Chasing Red Bull in F1 "exhilarating" for Mercedes - Allison

Mercedes tech chief James Allison says chasing Red Bull is "exhilarating" despite the team going through leaner years in Formula 1.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, the rest of the field on the opening lap

Red Bull has taken over Mercedes' position as the dominant force in F1 since the 2022 regulations change to ground-effect based cars, with Max Verstappen an overwhelming favourite to grab his third consecutive world drivers' championship this year.

Mercedes dropped the ball with its 2022 car and has since been working its way back in contention, with a concept change of its 2023 car offering hope that it has finally turned the page.

And while that downturn in form has been repeatedly described as painful and humbling by team principal Toto Wolff, technical director James Allison opened up on how that chase can also be exhilarating with an adjusted mindset.

"We're all going to feel a bit miffed about [not being competitive], even though that sort of unhappiness we see every time they win is offset hugely by the fact that it is thrilling in its own way to be fighting back, to be improving our car week-on-week," said Allison, who has returned to the technical director role after a job swap with successor Mike Elliott, now the team's chief technical officer.

"They don't have a God-given right to be in the lead, they're there by merit, having worked really well. If we can do as good or better job, we’ll be there and that is actually a lot of fun.

"It’s a very, very exhilarating thought once you frame it correctly in your head, and something that we're all tucked into trying to make a reality."

Mercedes' spirits were lifted by a double podium in the Spanish Grand Prix, which proved the clearest example that its new floor, sidepod and suspension designs have given it a better baseline to challenger Red Bull with.

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes-AMG

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Hamilton followed that up with another podium in last week's Canadian Grand Prix after a scrap with Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso.

When asked if Hamilton shared Allison's excitement at the fightback, he replied: "I don't know, I find it really thrilling.

"I think that both our drivers are very similar to the rest of the team in that if you sense that there is a change of momentum, that gives you a huge boost that you keep this running and the good times and the champagne will flow again.

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"And for the drivers, who get the sort of visceral excitement of actually feeling their car overtaking other people, that lifts their spirits.

"But I imagine when they're actually standing on the podium and reflecting on the fact that they're not on the top step that may temper their enthusiasm somewhat."

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