Wolff insists Allison remains "very important" for Mercedes

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has rubbished claims that technical chief James Allison has returned to a more active car design role to rectify the team's ongoing ground effect struggles.

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG, and Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG

After the disappointing start to life for the limited W14 machine, the successor to the porpoising 2022 car, there was speculation that Allison had resumed a more hands-on role at Brackley.

The former Lotus and Ferrari technical boss joined Mercedes in 2017 and after four years at the helm of the design department, he stepped back from daily duty to occupy the more overarching role of chief technical officer.

This revised position has allowed Allison to split his time with other projects, such as team co-owner INEOS’ involvement in the America’s Cup sailing competition. Wolff has clarified this arrangement has not changed in light of the eight-time constructors’ champion’s recent dip.

Speaking exclusively with Autosport, when asked if Allison was taking an active role in upgrading the W14, Wolff said: “No, he's not really involved.

“He's involved in the long-term strategy of the team. But he's doing more activities like America's Cup.”

Faced with the suggestion that the team might have been tempted to parachute Allison in to assist his successor Mike Elliott, Wolff continued: “It's not one person always in an organisation.

“But you need to find the right people for the right roles. Sometimes it can mean that you're super competent in one area, but maybe not overall.

“James, for sure, as a technical director in the past, has a big record and is a people's person. He's somebody that is still very important for the organisation.”

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

The Mercedes technical team has been subject to steady turnover throughout its championship-winning pomp.

Notably, Allison’s predecessor Paddy Lowe left to head up Williams, while former chief aerodynamicist Eric Blandin switched to in-form Aston Martin in 2021.

Likewise, engineering director (latterly a team advisor) Aldo Costa departed Mercedes to head up the technical department of race car manufacturer Dallara in early 2020.

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Asked about the difficulties in replacing these figureheads, Wolff said: “People like Aldo, you can never replace.

“But you need to find within the structure, you divide the job on a few others.

“Aldo [was] very good in structuring his succession also - it's not something that happened from one day to the other.

“We've had basically two and a half years of advanced warning that he would go. He shaped the department in his sense.”

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