James Allison reveals issue with ‘deeply uncomfortable’ Adrian Newey comparison

Jamie Woodhouse
James Allison pictured in the Mercedes garage.

James Allison in the Mercedes garage.

Mercedes technical director James Allison says it is “completely ludicrous” for team members outside of the drivers to have a title tally next to their name, as he brushed off the Adrian Newey comparisons.

Newey is regarded as one of the greatest designers which Formula 1 has ever seen, having enjoyed title-winning spells with Williams, McLaren and now Red Bull.

But, Allison also has a wildly successful career in Formula 1, with his challengers having been driven to title success at Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes.

James Allison finds Adrian Newey comparisons “deeply uncomfortable”

Michael Schumacher won five titles on the bounce from 2000-04 with Allison-designed Ferrari machinery, before Fernando Alonso ended that streak with back-to-back successes in 2005 and 2006, that in Renault challengers designed under Allison, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton the latest beneficiaries on the title front from Allison’s work.

However, when 1996 World Champion Damon Hill bought up the comparison between Newey and Allison on the F1 Nation podcast, Allison made it clear that he merely has played a part in these title-winning teams, and would not even begin to consider claiming the success as his own.

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“I have to say I just find that whole line of argument so deeply uncomfortable,” he said.

“First of all, a person doesn’t do a car, a team does a car. There’s 1300 people here and everyone has to play their part. Yeah, I’ve got a part to play, but it is only a part.

“The second thing is, and this is really a very, very important distinction, I think all of Adrian’s championships, he was technical director for them. And he could perhaps, if he were the type of person who wished to lay claim to stuff, he might have a more valid claim than me, who was merely in the teams that had those championships.

“Okay, laterally in my career, I’ve been lucky enough to be in the technical director seat in a [Mercedes] team that deservedly brought itself to brilliance long before I arrived.

“If someone is in a team, and that team wins a World Championship, that person is a lucky lucky person in whatever shoes they’re filling in the team.

“That I’ve been lucky enough to be in a range of teams, Benetton, Ferrari, Renault, and now Mercedes, where I’ve been just brilliantly fortunate to be alongside a group that is performing well enough to be World Champions, that’s made me have the most deeply fortunate career.

“I’m glad that I’ve played my part in them, but this sort of counting of championships and attributing them to individuals is completely ludicrous. And definitely not how any right-thinking person should think about the challenge of the sport.”

Allison clarified that he does not include the drivers in that way of thinking, saying they should very much be recognised for driving their machinery to title success.

“I would say very differently for a driver, by the way,” said Allison. “A driver has to win the thing.

“But an engineer in a team or any team member, they’re part of the team and it’s a team thing. And that’s actually what makes it fun. If it were an individual thing, it would be greatly greatly devalued.”

While Red Bull have already secured a further title double in F1 2023, P2 in the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships remains very much on for Mercedes, the team currently holding that P2 spot, while Hamilton is now only 30 points behind Sergio Perez as he looks to deny Red Bull their first one-two result in the Drivers’ standings.

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