“You have to find people for the right tasks,” says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff when asked about the possible return of James Allison into the role of development. For the second year in a row, Mercedes is underperforming its own expectations in Formula One. But that doesn’t mean James Allison will return to the fold.
Despite calls to return James Allison to a more active role in development as the team’s long-time technical director, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has now explained the situation in an interview with Motorsport-Total.com.
Allison, who stepped down from his car development role for the 2022 Formula 1 season and took over the higher-level position of overall group technical director, is “not actually involved” in working on the Mercedes W14 in the 2023 season, Wolff says, who is keeping Allison away from the new W14 2023 F1 car.
The day-to-day technical business surrounding the Formula One car will continue to be the responsibility of Mike Elliott, Allison’s successor as Technical Director at Mercedes. Allison, in turn, is entrusted with the “long-term strategy” of the racing team, says Wolff.
“He is also more involved in the America’s Cup activities”, a sailing project of Mercedes partner Ineos.
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Wolff: “Everyone has their tasks …”
You have to get rid of the idea that in such a big team the individual is decisive anyway, says Wolff. He explains:
“You have to find the right people for the right tasks. Sometimes someone is supremely competent in one area but maybe not broadly.”
“James has had great success as technical director and he is well liked. He continues to be very important to us as a team.”
But further development of the W14 was not one of Allison’s primary tasks, he said, especially as Mercedes had put structures in place to adequately cushion personnel changes.
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Mercedes restructures itself again and again
Wolff refers to the departure of Aldo Costa, who had accompanied the team for years as chief engineer:
“You can never replace people like Aldo. But: you can find someone within your structure and spread the work over several shoulders.”
“Aldo, by the way, was very good at managing his succession. It didn’t happen from one day to the next. We basically had two and a half years’ warning before he left. He built up his department accordingly.”
Allison did not give up his position at Mercedes overnight either, but wanted a change after a total of 30 years in Formula One day-to-day business. In 1991, Allison had started at Benetton, moved to Ferrari for the 2000 season and returned to Benetton, now called Renault, in 2005. From 2013 to 2016 he worked for Ferrari again, and since 2017 Allison has been with Mercedes.
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