Mercedes explain reason behind recent staff turnover as ‘big’ teams make moves

Thomas Maher
James Allison, Mercedes, 2024 Imola Grand Prix.

James Allison has shared his thoughts on recent staff turnover at Mercedes.

Mercedes’ James Allison has said recent staff departures are part of the regular ebb and flow of a team’s ecosystem.

The Brackley-based squad is going through a difficult time in its quest to unlock more pace from the truculent W15, while also going through a period of change on the personnel front.

Mercedes part ways with aerodynamic chief

Ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Ferrari confirmed the signing of former Mercedes performance director Loïc Serra to head up their chassis performance engineering department – Serra having been with the Brackley-based squad for over a decade.

Jerome d’Ambrosio, who had been touted as a possible eventual replacement for Toto Wolff in the future as the Belgian headed the Mercedes driver development programme over the last two years, also departed the team for personal reasons as he moved back to Europe following his stint in the UK.

D’Ambrosio has since signed with Ferrari to act as deputy team boss under Fred Vasseur, as well as heading up the Scuderia’s driver academy.

Both had left Mercedes earlier this year and will begin work with the Maranello-based squad in October 2024.

Over the Imola weekend, Mercedes also confirmed it had parted ways with Gioacchino ‘Jack’ Vino, chief aerodynamicist, who has begun six months of gardening leave from the team.

With some high-profile personnel leaving alongside the onboarding of engineers from other teams, Mercedes’ technical director James Allison spoke to the media at Imola and dismissed any concerns that the losses are indicative of needing new skillsets to be hired.

“No, I think it’s more in the normal ebb and flow of an F1 team,” he said in Friday’s team personnel press conference.

“The teams are big these days and, in any given year, you are shipping out a whole bunch of people and shipping in a matching number. That will be true in nearly every team.”

More on the latest Mercedes F1 news:

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Asked whether he feels any concern about the number of people parting ways with the team and about the reasons behind the various departures, Allison said the rate of hirings is easily keeping pace with the number of splits.

“I don’t think there’s any point in me offering a commentary on motivation,” he said.

“Clearly, a team needs to have a critical mass of experienced and good people. And we would not wish to see experienced good people leave us.

“But we also are gathering experienced and good people at a similar rate. So I guess it’s our job to try and make sure we act in such a way that everybody would rather be with us than anywhere else.”

Allison himself is calling upon all his experience and know-how to turn what has been a tough start to life with an enigmatic W15 over the opening six races of 2024, with the Mercedes’ technical director leading the team’s change of development direction following Mike Elliott’s influence over the past two year’s designs.

With success proving difficult to unlock at this point, he admitted that the situation is not one he’s enjoying, but he’s savouring the prospect of the moment when things finally start to click.

“I don’t think it’s any more difficult for me than it is for all of us in the team,” he said.

“It’s always tough when a car isn’t where you want it to be. And that is not an enjoyable situation. On the other hand, once you do start to get your head around it and start to move it forward, that then becomes extremely pleasurable.

“So hopefully we’ve got the worst of the grim feeling behind us and are now on the upward slope of that.”

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