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Mercedes ties down James Allison on ‘long-term’ contract

Merc completes factory reset, nails down last successful technical director on multi-year deal

Published: 18 Jan 2024

Ever have to reset your computer to the last time it worked properly? That’s effectively what Mercedes did when it realised it’d built another dud of a car after just one race last season, almost immediately re-installing James Allison as technical director.

And now the team has made sure the highly regarded 55-year-old - who oversaw four Lewis Hamilton titles and five constructors' championships in a first stint that started in 2017 - can’t leave his desk again any time soon by handing him a long-term contract.

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“F1 has brought me a lot of good fortune, but none greater than answering Toto's call to join Mercedes in 2017,” said Allison. “It is a great privilege to continue this adventure, working alongside brilliant colleagues and fighting together for championship success.”

And team boss Toto Wolff added: “I am thrilled that James has committed his long-term future to the team. Put simply, he is the most impressive technical leader in our sport. His gladiator spirit, along with his knowledge, experience, and determination, make him second-to-none.

“His influence and impact, however, goes so much further than that. Since joining in 2017, he has been a key ally and sparring partner for me personally. We can challenge each other openly and honestly; an embodiment of the 'tough love' culture of the team that is vital in helping us all perform at our very best.

“Most importantly though, James is a true friend you can rely on, not only in times of success but in difficult moments too. It has been a pleasure to work with him over the past seven years and I look forward to doing so for many more to come.”

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Allison initially left the technical director role in 2021, with his replacement Mike Elliot overseeing the final months of design for the W13… which bounced so uncontrollably that Lewis Hamilton admitted he couldn’t “express the pain” he was in while driving it. Ouch.

But with George Russell winning the Sao Paulo Grand Prix that year, Mercedes chose to stick with the so-called ‘zero-sidepod’ concept for 2023. And it was a disaster: in pre-season testing it was clear the team was still well off Red Bull’s searing pace, and a matter of days later Wolff admitted they were screwed for the entire season.

By April Allison was back as technical director and in October Elliot and Mercedes quietly parted ways.

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Now that the team has secured its last successful technical director for the foreseeable future, can it bounce back to the front of the grid any time soon? Testing begins at the end of next month…

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