Allison didn’t want to become ‘old embarrassment’ for Mercedes

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 become ‘old embarrassment’ for Mercedes

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 didn’t want to stay on beyond the point where he felt he was at his best.

So 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.”

Read Also:

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.

“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.

“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
Remembering Michele Alboreto: F1 ace, Le Mans winner and good man
Previous article

Remembering Michele Alboreto: F1 ace, Le Mans winner and good man

Next article

Red Bull: Mercedes trying to pressure us with 'favourite' tag

Red Bull: Mercedes trying to pressure us with 'favourite' tag
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021