The recent reshuffle in the Mercedes technical department has reportedly been a source of encouragement for Lewis Hamilton, with the return of technical ‘guru’ James Allison particularly well received.
The development, revealed by Sky Sports pundit David Croft, comes as Mercedes introduce a new floor to their W14 car for the upcoming São Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil.
Previous success encourages Hamilton
As Technical Director, and subsequently in his broader role overseeing the technical side before his recent return to a more direct involvement back to the TD role, Allison’s impact on the team has been both transformative and enduring.
With a storied career that has seen him play key roles at various F1 teams, including Ferrari and Renault, where he was instrumental in the championships won during the Alonso era, Allison brought a wealth of experience to Mercedes. He joined the team in 2017, following in the footsteps of the veteran design engineer Paddy Lowe, at a time when Mercedes were already a dominant force in the turbo-hybrid era.
Allison’s impact at Mercedes has been multifaceted. Under his leadership, the team has not only maintained but extended its competitive edge, as evidenced by an unbroken string of Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships from 2017 to 2020.
The technical mastery of Allison’s leadership was evident in the development of innovations such as the DAS (Dual Axis Steering) system, a novel approach to steering that allowed Mercedes drivers to adjust the toe angle of the front wheels on straights to improve tyre wear and aerodynamic efficiency. Despite its controversy and subsequent ban after 2020, the DAS system epitomised Allison’s philosophy of pushing the boundaries of regulations in the pursuit of performance.
In addition, Allison’s approach to ever-evolving technical regulations has been pragmatic and forward-thinking. He oversaw the adaptation of the car to major changes in regulations, ensuring that Mercedes stayed ahead in the development race. This was less successful with the transition to the current ground effect regulations, but by then Allison had stepped back from the Technical Director role at Mercedes.
His technical oversight has ensured that the cars excel not only in terms of speed, but also in their operating window, making them adaptable to a wide variety of tracks and conditions – a hallmark of Mercedes’ dominance during the pre-2022 rule change to ground effect.
Return to winning ways?
Back to the present day, the new floor upgrade has created a sense of optimism within the Mercedes team, especially as they return to the site of their last Formula One victory, secured by George Russell last year at Brazil.
With their sights now set on the 2024 season, the departure of Mike Elliott as Chief Technical Director and the resumption of Allison’s leadership role signal a significant shift in Mercedes’ approach. The move appears to have been well received by Hamilton, with Croft indicating that the seven-time world champion is happy with the direction and cohesion of the technical department.
There’s a renewed belief that Mercedes have identified where they fell short at the start of the season and are now on the right track to addressing those issues.
Red Bull not the only target for Mercedes resurgence
According to Croft, the feeling within the team is not just about overtaking their current dominant rivals, Red Bull. Instead, there is a broader focus on building a solid foundation for the future – a goal that matches Hamilton’s philosophy says the seven time champion. He has often said that being quick to identify problems is crucial to finding effective solutions.
Evidence of Mercedes’ turnaround can already be seen in their improved track performance. While catching Red Bull may not be the immediate benchmark, laying the groundwork for upcoming contests seems to be what is driving the team’s spirits
. It’s this forward-thinking strategy, along with Allison’s strategic influence, that seems to be the key factor in boosting Hamilton’s confidence and overall morale at Mercedes.
As the team prepares for the Brazilian Grand Prix, where the new floor will make another appearance, there is a palpable sense of anticipation. If Mercedes’ recent changes are indeed the solution they have been looking for, it could set the stage for an impressive comeback and a potentially brighter season ahead.
For Hamilton and the rest of the Mercedes team, this period could well be the precursor to a resurgence as they work together to reclaim their place at the pinnacle of F1.
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