Mercedes: Allison returns as Technical Director

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Photo credit: Mercedes F1 Team

A rough start of the season for Mercedes, with Team Principal Toto Wolff announcing – as early as the first Saturday of running in Bahrain – the team was going to give up on the concept of a W14 that simply seemed to be struggling too much.

Coming home from Australia with a podium and a DNF, things for the Silver Arrows seem to be on the way of improving.

Nonetheless, with a flying Red Bull leaving everyone far behind, they are certainly making the most of this spring break down in Brackley.

Not only to work on the single-seater, but also to reorganize the team in order to ensure that it is structured in the best way to “deliver sustainable success in the future”.

“We are focused on building the best racing car – and building the best team to develop that car, with everybody playing to their greatest strengths in the organisation,” commented a spokesperson for the team.

A significant shuffle on their quest to return to the top of the grid that Team Principal Toto Wolff introduced this way to

“It’s about creating a structure that can be sustainably successful going into the next generation.”

“We’re seeing huge changes in the technical developments, artificial intelligence and machine learning. And at the same time, looking at how is a modern Formula 1 team going to be organised and structured: what kind of innovation can be brought in.”

It’s in this scenario that comes the return of James Allison as Technical Director, twenty months later.

“This was very much driven by Mike Elliott owning the process,” said Wolff.

“We have reversed the roles: Mike has moved up to CTO – as he has a brilliant switched-on scientific mind – and James Allison has returned to his technical director position, reporting into Mike.”

A decision – explained Wolff – prompted by Elliott himself as he came to the realisation that Allison’s skillset is better suited for the role.

The switch, with Mike Elliot taking the Chief Technical Officer position, will allow both engineers to focus on their respective strengths and give their very best to the development of the car.

“I’m actually very happy that Mike took this decision by himself to put himself in this role, with both him and James coming to this conclusion, as we are having both of them in their genius.”

“What Mike’s assessment was, and the introspection is really admirable, is that with James we have a gladiator on the field and the troops are going to go through the fire for him and with him,” he said.

Elliott had become Technical Director throughout the 2021 season, with Allison taking over as CTO in his place.

“Mike came to the conclusion that the way he approaches things, his skill set, is best utilised in developing the organisation going forward: from technical capabilities to human capabilities and putting together the structure that can be successful for many years to come.”

A sharpness of decision Wolff greatly appreciated, as it is in the best interest of the team.

“Mike sees himself very much in his sweet spot there and obviously he’s a super capable engineer, very credible and respected in the organisation. He is going to be a coach and sparring partner for the most senior people.”

The reorganisation extended – this time to better manage the work needed to comply to the cost cap – to another crucial area as well: the design.

In this department Mercedes decided to split John Owen’s role in order to allow him to concentrate on the actual design, while his deputy Giacomo Tortora takes care of the “organisational development”.

John Owen as the director of car design had a very different job profile under the cost cap because, in addition to the creative part of designing a car, you have a tonne of extra work that comes with it. What happened is that the chief designer became a cost cap administrator.”

“So, we’ve split the role: John stays as the chief designer, but we have mandated Giacomo Tortora to become the engineering director.”