Allison facing ‘dizzying challenge’ combining F1 with sailing

Henry Valantine
James Allison, Mercedes F1 chief technical officer, in the Bahrain paddock. March 2021.

Mercedes chief technical director James Allison arrives in the Bahrain paddock. March 2021.

Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison is ready for a “dizzying challenge” of combining F1 with trying to win the America’s Cup, with team INEOS Britannia basing its design operation at the Mercedes factory.

Allison became CTO of the INEOS Britannia team back in October to boost their charge – with a partnership formed with INEOS as they are a one-third stakeholder in the Mercedes F1 team.

He will lead the campaign to design a vessel capable of winning the America’s Cup, which dates all the way back to 1851 as a competition.

The Mercedes head of technical operations said they had a taste of how the America’s Cup runs at the last edition of the event, and he wants to do his bit and combine his Formula 1 experience with the aim of bringing one of sport’s oldest titles back to Britain.

“We had a small involvement in the team’s 36th America’s Cup campaign which whetted our appetite. It was immediately clear to us that the America’s Cup is a very exciting, and very difficult, challenge,” Allison said on the INEOS Britannia website.

“Now we are one team, INEOS Britannia, with the team’s design base embedded in our Formula 1 HQ, and the clear goal to bring the America’s Cup back to Britain. We feel very lucky to be involved in this opportunity and we can’t wait for the challenge ahead, it’s a mouth-watering prospect.”

Mercedes have one of the largest teams of people in Formula 1, with around 1000 employees working between their two factories in Brackley and Brixworth.

Allison will have a much smaller team to work with in their pursuit of the America’s Cup, but he drew plenty of parallels in how the teams operate.

With his hefty Formula 1 experience under his belt, he hopes to translate that into another sport and make the move from aerodynamics into hydrodynamics – which he feels is a challenge worth taking on.

“An America’s Cup team may only be about 10% the size of a major Formula 1 team, but there is a lot of similarity in the difficulty of the challenge.

“Everything has to be right, or nothing is right. There are a lot of areas where we can contribute strongly from the beginning. We’re not bad at aerodynamics here, and it’s not a huge stretch into hydrodynamics.


“We’re also pretty good at structural design, structural engineering and we have a wide range of material science backing up our work here to date.

“There’s so many areas of overlap where we will be able to contribute to this campaign working alongside our experienced America’s Cup colleagues and hopefully at the end, we can produce something we will all be proud of.

“It would be an enormous deal if we brought the Cup back to Britain. I’m very aware of Britain’s maritime history and I’m certain that if this team can muster what we need to get the competitive boat and get this Cup brought to Britain.”


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