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Lotus shrug off front wing controversy

By Alan Baldwin

JEREZ, Spain (Reuters) - The Lotus Formula One team have shrugged off controversy surrounding the eye-catching split nose on their 2014 car.

"We have passed all the necessary crash tests and are very confident our design complies with all the FIA legal requirements," technical director Nick Chester told the team website (www.lotusf1team.com) on Tuesday.

"We have just taken an innovative direction and one that's different to the other teams.

"Where there are so many variations in design, there is always bound to be a little talk, but we remain relaxed and focused on our design and progression."

Lotus, who finished fourth overall last year despite financial difficulties, are the only team of the 11 contenders to be absent from the first pre-season test of the season in southern Spain.

They have however released a computer-generated image of the new E22 car which shows a nose that ends like a pair of unequal tweezers.

The Lotus solution, in response to new regulations from the FIA governing body that lower the tips of cars for safety reasons, was questioned on Monday by Toro Rosso's technical director James Key.

"The Lotus nose needs a bit of clarification. It's a very clever idea. The question really is 'is it within the spirit?' but we'll see," Key told reporters.

"I don't think it's illegal, it just whether it's in the spirit of the regulations."

Chester said Lotus, who replaced team principal Eric Boullier with co-chairman Gerard Lopez last week, were proceeding well with their preparations.

"The car's coming together pretty well now. The build is well advanced and we think we'll be in good shape for Bahrain come the next test," he said.

Lotus have Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Frenchman Romain Grosjean as their drivers this year.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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