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Formula 1

Mercedes F1 technical director Allison swaps to new role

by Edd Straw
4 min read

The Mercedes Formula 1 team has announced a reshuffle of its technical leadership, with James Allison becoming chief technical officer as of July 1 and Mike Elliott succeeding him as technical director.

Allison joined Mercedes as technical director in February 2017, having held the same role at Ferrari and Renault/Lotus, and has overseen four consecutive world championships in that position.

A Mercedes statement indicated that Allison “will turn his energy instead to help the team meet the strategic challenges of the sport’s next era”, with his role described as being “to work closely with the technical leadership at both Brackley and Brixworth to help ensure that the team always has the right capability to meet its needs”.

Mike Elliott

This suggests that while Elliott (pictured above), who joined Mercedes as head of aerodynamics in 2012 before becoming technology director in 2017, will focus on the day-to-day technical operation, Allison will be able to take a wider and more strategic view – particularly with the ongoing demands of adapting to a cost-cap era F1 and the long-term challenge presented by the next phase of rule changes that will start with the new engine formula in 2025.

It will also allow Allison to share some leadership responsibilities with team principal Toto Wolff, particularly on the technical side. Allison referenced “supporting Toto” as part of his role when it comes to the strategic challenges the team faces.

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“I firmly believe that people have a shelf life in senior roles in this sport, and I have chosen to step away from my role as technical director in order to pass on the baton at the right time for the organisation and myself,” said Allison.

“I have enjoyed four and a half wonderful years as technical director, and it has been a special privilege to lead the technical effort of the team in that time.

“It is a great pleasure to be succeeded by Mike, an exceptional engineer in a tremendously strong group of senior leaders in the team.

“We will benefit from the freshness that he will bring to the role – and I hope I can continue to make a useful contribution across a new sphere of activity in my role as CTO, with a focus on increasing our capability across the board and supporting Toto with the major strategic challenges we face in the near future.”

Lewis Hamilton Mike Elliott 2013

Elliott – pictured above with Lewis Hamilton in 2013 – has worked in F1 for two decades, initially joining McLaren as an aerodynamicist in 2000. Having risen to the role of team leader, aerodynamic performance, he left to become principal aerodynamicist at Renault in 2008 – where he first worked with Allison.

Since joining Mercedes in 2012, he has been a key player in its emergence as a race-winning team and its unprecedented run of seven consecutive world championship doubles.

“It has been a great pleasure and privilege to work for James earlier in my career at Renault, and for the past four years at Mercedes,” said Elliott.

“His track record in the sport speaks for itself, and he has been a fantastic team-mate and leader for me during that time. They are big shoes to fill and I am delighted that we will be able to call on his expertise in his new role as CTO.

“On a personal level, it is an amazing opportunity to become technical director of a team like Mercedes, and I must thank Toto and our company for trusting me to make the step up to this new role.

“It is an incredible privilege to be part of this team and I know that the leadership strength at every level through the company will be vital to our future success. I can’t wait to get started and to tackle the many exciting technical challenges ahead of us in the next months and years.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship United States Grand Prix Race Day Austin, Usa

Wolff paid tribute to the contribution Allison – pictured above on the 2019 US Grand Prix podium – has made as technical director and described Allison’s promotion as an example of “effective succession planning”.

Given Elliott is already so well-integrated at Mercedes, this should mean that when the official handover happens at the start of July it will be as seamless as possible.

Wolff also stressed that Allison’s intention to step down as technical director this year has been known for some time.

“Since joining Mercedes in 2017, James has been an exceptional technical leader for our team, and he has made an enormous contribution to our performance: he combines huge passion and determination with detailed expertise and exceptional moral character,” said Wolff.

“We have known for a while that his time as technical director would be coming to an end this year and I am delighted that we have been able to shape this new role to keep him within our motorsport family; he will be an important sparring partner for me in the next years and I know that we still have much to achieve together.

“We often say that the organisation is a dynamic organism, and that we need to adapt continuously if we want to truly thrive. Effective succession planning has been a strength of our team, so I am delighted to announce Mike in his new role as technical director.

“We first met at the beginning of 2013 when I joined the team and have spent many hours talking about the team and its evolution since then.

“Mike has developed from our head of aerodynamics to now being ready to take the step up to become technical director. Together with an exceptional group of senior technical leaders, this puts us in the best possible position for the sport’s next era.”

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