James Allison sets out the one thing he would ‘never’ do with Mercedes W14

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton speaking to his mechanics in the Mercedes garage. Azerbaijan April 2023

Lewis Hamilton speaking to his mechanics in the Mercedes garage. Azerbaijan April 2023

James Allison has ruled out designing a B-spec car at Mercedes with the returning technical director revealing he isn’t considering a “wholesale revamp clean sheet”.

Off the pace in this year’s championship, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff declared earlier this season that he does “not think this package is going to be competitive eventually”.

This sparked speculation that a B-spec car could be on the way but while Wolff downplayed that, reports claiming Mercedes could soon ditch their zero-pod sidepods concept have continued to do the rounds.

With just one podium from three races and a deficit to Red Bull that has left Lewis Hamilton staggered by the RB19’s straight-line speed, Mercedes have acknowledged they need to something.

That something, at least for now, was to bring Allison back into the role of technical director to guide the W14’s development path.

And he’s made it clear he would “never” scrap the current concept and go with something completely different.

“I don’t think any of us would ever consider a wholesale revamp clean sheet a good or prosperous approach,” he said in Friday’s press conference in Baku.

“If the rules change, then of course you have to change with them, but engineering is about iteration.

“And, in all likelihood, if you tear things up, and I am going to mix metaphors horrifically here, but you are going to just throw away an awful lot of baby along with a small amount of bathwater.

“All of these cars, from the top to the bottom of the grid, are unbelievably good cars and it is merely a question of how competitive are you? Are you the best in the whole world?

“And you are going to use the platform you have and you’re going to choose the paths forward that allow it to get better in the fastest possible way.

“And almost never, in fact never, would you ever tear things up and say: ‘no, enough with that, let’s change and do something completely different.’”

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This weekend Mercedes have brought several upgrades to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix including a new rear suspension, rear endplate and front and rear corner.

“We’ll be trying to add downforce to the car and try not to add too much drag for the downforce we’re adding,” Allison revealed.

“We will also be trying to improve the balance of the car. I think there isn’t a car out there with a perfect balance, and ours is very much less than perfect.

“We’ll be trying to work on that aerodynamically and in terms of platform control with the suspension. But there is no great revelation there, all the things that will make our car faster would make every car on the grid faster.

“The trick is to try to make sure we’re bringing them quickly enough that we make a relative improvement on our competitors. But there’s no magic to that.”