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Allison: Job swap makes Mercedes "better fighting machine" in F1

Mercedes Formula 1 technical director James Allison says that the recent job swap at the Brackley team will make it a "better fighting machine."

James Allison, Mercedes

James Allison, Mercedes

Mercedes AMG

After a difficult start to the 2023 season for the W14, Allison has traded his previous chief technical officer role with erstwhile technical director Mike Elliott.

In essence, it means that Allison will now have a more hands-on approach with the car and the current racing programme while Elliott will take a longer-term strategic view.

Allison previously served as technical director before taking a step back for personal reasons in 2021.

"We just had a bit of an examining of our own navels here in Brackley, and between Mike and I concluded that the pair of us can cover the ground reasonably well," Allison explained on the F1 Nation podcast.

"But perhaps I was better suited to the short-term fighting of a championship with a car, and he was the much better chess player of the pair of us, and that he would be better suited to doing the job I was doing as a CTO previously.

"So we jiggled it about and came up with something that we think is a better fighting machine overall."

Asked why the change came after a strong performance by the team in Australia, Allison stressed that there was a bigger picture.

"I don't think that this decision is particularly dependent on the fortune of the car at a given race weekend," he said.

"It was based on a sober assessment of what the pair of us are best suited to. And we think that the overall fighting strength of this team is maximised by this role swap.

"Let's hope that Melbourne is just the first step in a general pick-up and recovery that allows us to get more competitive by the weekend.

"But Mike and I are convinced that with the jobs that we're setting out to do, that we'll be playing our best part in that recovery in the time ahead of us."

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Allison admitted that it will take him time to get fully up to speed with the day-to-day details of the racing programme.

"I was much less involved than I had been as a technical director," he said. "I was more manoeuvring around in the sort of 2026 space than in the here and now of the current car.

"It certainly is a fair chunk of effort to get up to speed with everything. Not merely the regulations, but the full engine of the factory and the race team and all the things that are currently in play in the championship fight.

"But it's exciting and fun and interesting, and a pleasure to be back up to my neck in it."

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Regarding his decision to return to a job that will involve extensive travel to races, Allison stressed that he took a step back in 2021 as he was in the early days of a new relationship.

However, time has created the opportunity to spend more weekends away from home.

"A lot of that goes back to the very, very long tragic shadow cast by my wife dying," he explained.

"And being lucky enough, a few years later, to meet somebody else, who at the time was living in France, and working in France, and had all her life in France, and had done for 20 years or so.

"And when she kindly and some would say foolishly agreed to come and cast her lot in with me, so that we could live together, she was giving up an awful lot.

"It was a little unfair, or it seemed a little unfair, from my point of view to cast her adrift and say thanks for coming over to England, I'll see you five minutes a week!

"The stepping back from the frontline role of technical director allowed some space for our relationship to flourish in a way that would have been tough otherwise.

"But that was over two years ago now that Chloe moved over and, and she has some roots in this country now doing her own thing that doesn't depend on my face.

"And so it's much more believable, much more possible now to do this than it would have been two and a bit years ago."

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