Allison didn’t want to be ‘old embarrassment’ for Mercedes F1 team

Mercedes technical director James Allison said the trigger point for him deciding to change roles was that he didn’t want to become an ‘old embarrassment’ for his Formula 1 team.

Allison didn’t want to be ‘old embarrassment’ for Mercedes F1 team

Allison announced recently that he will move in to a new position as chief technical officer in July, with technology director Mike Elliott stepping up to replace him.

While Allison has played an important role in helping Mercedes stay on top of F1 since he joined the outfit at the start of 2017, he has been clear for some time that he did not want to stay on beyond the point where he felt he was at his best.

During his last contract discussions back in 2019, he was already planning to step back as he wanted to be sure he handed over things in the best shape possible.

“I wanted to make sure that I could be true to this team, to make sure that I committed to being a technical director over a period where I could earn my salt but not to outstay my welcome, and to know when the right time to step away was,” he said.

“I would much rather that was done while I was still useful than becoming an old embarrassment, and that was what was playing on my mind at the time.

“During the period I was really comfortable and confident to commit to as technical director, we have been collectively working to make sure that the transition from me to Mike would be a success, and would give the company all the benefits that would come from the vigour of a new set of hands in charge.”

Allison originally thought that stepping away from the technical director role would mean the end of any links to the Mercedes team. However, team boss Toto Wolff felt it important that Allison keep close ties with the outfit, which is why he has elected to move him into a new CTO position.

“When I felt this was the right thing for me, and the best thing for the team to do, to step away, I very much thought that I would be stepping away to my sofa to cheer the team from the sidelines as a punter,” he explained.

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG, and Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG, and Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

“I didn’t imagine there would be a space in the team having relinquished this brilliant job.

"Happily, Toto saw it a little differently and, between us, we worked to save the manner in which I could contribute to the team but with the absolute backstop that my future role could not in any way undermine the crucial importance of the technical director having the real proper responsibility that the technical director should have for the challenge beneath him.

“The new role had to be one that was not in the front line, was not part of the day-to-day, was not part of the current car or indeed next year’s car.

“It had to be a role where I could focus on longer wavelength stuff than that, and looking at what challenges the entire company might face and how could we best equip ourselves technically to make sure we are well set to face them.

Read Also:

“It really is what it is described as. It is not an operational role that is the preserve of a technical director.”

And while Allison reckons his time at Mercedes has been the most fun period he has had in his F1 career, he is convinced he is doing the right thing in taking a step back.

“I’m sure it is the right thing to do but a huge part of me is screaming at me saying ‘what on earth are you doing?’” he said.

“It is definitely the right thing for me and it is definitely the right thing for the team. The second of those two is the more important.

“I’m pretty sure that I will be able to look back at this golden period that I have been lucky enough to have late in my F1 career, and think how lucky I was to fall in with this group of people at this time and be part of what is arguably the most successful and amazing Formula 1 team that there has ever been.”

shares
comments

Related video

Brivio: Team radio biggest difference between F1 and MotoGP
Previous article

Brivio: Team radio biggest difference between F1 and MotoGP

Next article

Red Bull: Mercedes trying to put pressure on us with favourite tag

Red Bull: Mercedes trying to put pressure on us with favourite tag
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Plus

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title Plus

The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title

After two terrifying crashes, one of the best British racers of the 1950s retired before his career peaked. But that’s why GP Racing’s MAURICE HAMILTON was able to speak to Tony Brooks in 2014. Like his friend Stirling Moss, Brooks was regarded as one of the best drivers never to have won the world championship. Here, as our tribute to Brooks who died last month, is that interview in full

Formula 1
Jun 27, 2022
Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022
Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons Plus

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Plus

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022