Even the ‘great Adrian Newey’ would acknowledge this says James Allison

Michelle Foster
James Allison speaking in an FIA press conference. Azerbaijan April 2023

James Allison speaking in an FIA press conference. Azerbaijan April 2023

James Allison has denied he’s the key to turning Mercedes’ form around, the Briton saying even the “great Adrian Newey would probably tell you” that it takes team effort.

Conceding after the opening race of the season, one in which Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were both 50s down on race winner Max Verstappen, that their W14 was not going to become a contender unless drastic changes were made, Mercedes announced earlier this month that Allison was back in the technical director role.

The Briton has swapped jobs with former technical director Mike Elliott, the latter taking up his vacated chief technical officer role.

But on a weekend where Mercedes introduced a raft of upgrades, changes that don’t seem to have done the trick with the drivers complaining about a lack of pace around the Baku circuit, it has pundits wondering how long it will take before Allison’s influence is felt on Mercedes’ performances.

He says it doesn’t work like that, Mercedes is a team and even Red Bull design guru Newey would acknowledge that a car is a team effort.

“I think that sort of question is often asked in one form or another, and it betrays – forgive me – it betrays a certain lack of understanding of how our factories actually work,” he told the media in Baku.

“I mean, our factories, the grid’s factories. It’s many hundreds of people, a thousand-plus people in some cases.

“You don’t have one person’s hand on a car, it’s just not how it works at all. Each person puts their shoulder to the wheel, and if the whole place is well set-up and well organised, that wheel turns more and more effectively.

“Even the great Adrian Newey would probably tell you that if you pinned him down hard enough. It is a very big team effort.

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“And when I say that Mike and I would be slightly stronger, as a pairing, the other way around, it means that we’re able to put our respective shoulders to that wheel slightly more effectively, and help it turn just a little bit faster.

“I hope that that shoulder that I’m placing on that wheel will help from this point forward, and not a W14/W15 thing. But it is just a big team effort, the whole thing.”

And for those interested in Allison’s involvement in the America’s Cup, the 55-year-old revealed he’ll still have a hand in that.

“I’ve still got a small involvement in the boat project,” he said.

“And something which a TD [technical director] would ordinarily not have the space for, but the fact that Mike and I are sharing work between us – him looking more at the long term, me fighting in the season – actually gives me a slightly smaller space than a traditional TD has to work in.

“It gives me a little bit of room to keep some continuity with a project that I put some effort into previously.”