James Allison ‘stigma’ hanging over Ferrari in their search for top F1 talent

Michelle Foster
James Allison Ferrari

James Allison Ferrari

Respected Italian journalist Leo Turrini believes one of the reasons Ferrari struggle to bring in foreign engineers is because of yesteryear’s treatment of James Allison and the “stigma” it left behind.

British designer and engineer Allison has a long history with Ferrari having initially joined the team in 2000 for five years before moving to Renault and then returning to Ferrari in 2013.

Taking on the role of technical chief, he abruptly left the team in August 2016 following the death of his wife in March of that year.

”It’s a sad story and in hindsight, it was also a mistake from Ferrari’

How Ferrari dealt with Allison’s leave of absence after his wife’s passing is a stain that Ferrari are still having to deal with, says Turrini.

“Quite a few foreign technicians hesitate in the face of Ferrari proposals because they know the Scuderia’s recent history,” he declared on his blog.

“And Allison’s story, unfortunately for [former bosses] Marchionne and Arrivabene, is a stigma across the Channel.

“Some debts are not paid immediately, but later.”

He went on to elaborate on how Allison’s second exit from the team played out.

“Allison had already been with Ferrari, then he had left, then he returned,” he said. “He was highly regarded by everyone.

“In 2016, while he was returning from the Melbourne GP, his wife died suddenly. Having three children, James requested and was granted permission to work, for a time, from home in England.

“Meanwhile, Vettel and Raikkonen’s car was not at all competitive.

“[Ferrari president Sergio] Marchionne got nervous, and asked Allison to go back to the factory, he asked for a little more time, which he wasn’t granted.

“The rest is known, he then moved to Mercedes.”

Turrini added: “It’s a sad story and in hindsight, it was also a mistake. Resounding.”

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Joining Mercedes, Allison played an integral role in the team’s continued success through to 2021, the last season in Mercedes’ eight-year Constructors’ Championship run.

Now back in the role of technical director, the 55-year-old is working to help Mercedes regain the titles they lost to Red Bull.

Meanwhile, new Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur is making it his mission to persuade rival teams’ top talent over to Maranello.

“This soon became the main part of my work at Ferrari,” he recently told Gazzetta dello Sport. “You have to build good relationships and get people to move.”

“The first ones you take are the most difficult, then the others seeing them follow suit.”

Vasseur has reportedly landed his first big signing in Mercedes’ performance director Loic Serra, although he won’t be joining the team before 2025.

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