LONDON, England - Highly-rated technical director James Allison is leaving Lotus and will be replaced by Nick Chester, the Formula 1 team said on Wednesday (May 8, 2013).The announcement before the first race of the European season in Spain this weekend (May 10-12) will be seen as a blow for Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 World champion is second in the standings to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.JOINING FERRARI?Allison has been with British-based Lotus, previously Renault, since 2005 after previous stints in the 1990’s when they raced as Benetton. No details were given about his likely destination, although early speculation focused heavily on Ferrari given his past employment there. Allison worked for the Italian team for five years - during Michael Schumacher's dominant years - overseeing trackside aerodynamic operations prior to joining Renault. However, Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo claims this possible move is "just a rumour".Nick Chester was previously Lotus's engineering director and worked for now-defunct Arrows before moving to the Enstone factory in England in 2000.Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said: "He is already directly involved with this and 2014's cars, ensuring a smooth transition. The 2014 technical regulation changes present many challenges, while our current position of second place in both the Constructors' and Drivers' World championships mean we cannot lose sight of 2013's development battle."Nick really has his work cut out, but we know he is more than capable of handling the tasks ahead," said Boullier.F1 faces major rule changes at the end of the 2013 season, with a switch from the current 2.5-litre V8 engines to a new 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid V6 unit. Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Formula 1 season – fresh reports every day.