Allison: We’re motivated by rules trying to stop us

Date published: December 19 2020 - Finley Crebolder

Mercedes celebrate the seventh World Championship for Lewis Hamilton

James Allison says that the fact that upcoming regulations aimed at ending Mercedes’ era of dominance motivate the German team.

Sweeping changes to the sporting and technical regulations will be introduced for the 2022 season that Formula 1 hopes will level the playing field.

It presents Mercedes with their biggest challenge yet to remain the dominant force on the grid, but Alisson, the team’s technical director, says that it also motivates them more than ever.

“They’re not — they don’t have Mercedes written on them — they have at their heart the idea that they don’t want a pyramid, they want a continuous churn of teams that are capable of winning one day and not winning the next, and for each weekend to be unpredictable,” he told ESPN.

“But if you are in the position we are currently in, then it doesn’t feel that way, it feels like this is a set of rules that are designed to try to make sure a team like us can’t exist in the future.

“The potential unintended consequence of that is that if you are seven years into a winning streak and finding it difficult to come up with fresh rhetoric that gets people stirred up for the challenge of an eighth or a ninth, then in many ways the sport does you quite a big favour by coming up with a set of rules that are aimed squarely at your heart.

“There is nothing more motivating for this group of people than to set to this new challenge and go, ‘We’ll show you! We’ll show you that we will not go quietly into the night!’

“That’s the thrill for us now, to take this regulatory challenge and, as we have done with previous ones, try to show what we are made of and that we are a team that just wants to try to do the best it possibly can. With luck, that best is good enough to be at the front.”

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Red Bull were the dominant team before Mercedes, but the regulation changes at the start of the hybrid era saw them drop behind the German team, and they haven’t won a title since.

Allison puts falls from grace like this down to complacency amongst other things and is confident his team won’t suffer the same fate.

“It’s normally complacency of one form or another and then add to that complacency there are other attritional factors, like the people in the championship team tend to be very attractive prospects for the competitors to poach and eventually you lose one or two, who become ten or 15 and ten or 15 become 50 or 100 and what was an absolutely unbeatable combination of people starts to be a different animal,” he added.

“So it can be lots of different things stacking up on top of one another. How have we tried to deal with that? We have at least been very aware that those are the risks, because the cycle of success and subsequent decline, all of us have seen happen a few times and many of us have actually lived through it in other teams.

“And so we have been quite self-conscious in our determination to try and avoid those risks, try to remind ourselves that there is nothing special, nothing god-given about our success and it’s a result of hard work and effort and, to a degree, some sacrifice in terms of people being willing to spend their time here at work committed to this instead of in the arms of their family, quite often.”

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