James Allison on chasing Red Bull down: “It is thrilling in its own way to be fighting back”

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Mercedes F1 Technical Director James Allison remained very candid when asked about Formula 1’s aerodynamic testing regulations and catching Red Bull.

Mercedes have failed to grasp F1’s new ground effect regulations brought in in 2022, languishing behind Red Bull and winning just one race since the new regulations came into place.

Nonetheless, signs are there that they’re on the way back. A double podium in Spain was followed by another strong drive in Canada. Team boss Toto Wolff stated he’s aiming for victory at Silverstone during a post-race interview in at the last event.

Allison explained he is ecstatic to be the hunter and trying to challenge the Austrian team: “It is thrilling in its own way to be fighting back.”

The ATR provides a minor handicap to F1’s most successful teams, limiting their wind tunnel time and allowing the 20-car field to become more competitive.

Red Bull were given a hefty $7m fine and a 10% reduction in wind tunnel time for breaching the budget cap heading into 2023.

Allison said: “From my perspective on it, each team has its own personal ATR limit based on what happened to them over the past little while.

“And from Mercedes’ perspective, we’re just trying to work the best we can with our own ATR limit, not worrying too much about the people behind us who have more or the people who were behind us having more or the people in front of us having less..”

The Briton explained that the aerodynamic testing regulations aren’t the outstanding factor in regards to Mercedes’ slump in form

“I think as regards to lost opportunity, don’t really separate out the ATR particularly from every other aspect of resource that we brought to bear on the current car we have, which is clearly not competitive with respect to Red Bull.

“Until it is, we’re all going to feel a bit miffed about that, even though that sort of unhappiness we see every time they win is offset hugely by the fact that it is thrilling in its own way to be fighting back, to be improving our car week-on-week and to hold clear in our heads the target that they’re not, they’re not some sort of… they don’t have a God-given right to be in the lead, they’re there by merit, having worked really well.

“And if we can do as good or better job we’ll be there. And that is actually a lot of fun. It’s a very, very exhilarating thought once you frame it correctly in your head, and something that we’re all tucked into trying to make a reality.”

Allison was also quizzed on whether Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton finds the teams resurgence as fascinating as he does.

“I don’t know, I find it really thrilling. I think that both our drivers are very similar to the rest of the team in that if you sense that there is a change of momentum, that gives you a huge boost that you know that, keep this running, keep this running, keep this running and the good times and the champagne will flow again.

“That is just a good feeling up and down the grid. And for the drivers, who get the sort of visceral excitement of actually feeling their car overtaking other people, that lifts their spirits, but I imagine when they’re actually standing on the podium and reflecting on the fact that they’re not on the top step that may temper their enthusiasm somewhat.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team