Mercedes tech chief quizzed on ‘failed’ F1 2022 regulations amid Red Bull dominance

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen lapping in the Red Bull RB20

Max Verstappen in the Red Bull RB20.

Mercedes technical director James Allison has claimed that Red Bull’s dominance does not mean F1’s current regulations have been a failure – but he sees a clear flaw in the rules.

For 2022 new regulations swept through Formula 1, triggering a return to ground effect aerodynamics and carrying the aim of closing up the grid via cars which could follow more easily and were more limited in terms of innovation.

James Allison says up to the teams to catch Red Bull

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

And this F1 era has very much belonged to Red Bull, who have hoovered up all Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles on offer, winning 21 of the 22 grands prix in 2023, 19 of those claimed by Max Verstappen who is now chasing a fourth World Championship in succession.

Allison was therefore asked by media including whether Red Bull’s dominance means these rules have been a failure. In that sense, he says blame cannot be placed on governing body the FIA, though picking through the rules, he identified areas “in the regulations that don’t serve any of us well.”

“I don’t necessarily think that they’ve failed in those terms, because our job is to try and make sure that we can make a good fight of it,” said Allison.

“I think that there are things in the regulations that don’t serve any of us well.

“I don’t think it’s sensible to have cars that hug the ground in the way that these cars target and I think the idea that you get good racing by controlling wakes, while ignoring tyres and the whole idea of controlling wakes being something of a tilting at windmills type of challenge, I think that side of things has been tested to destruction fairly evidently.

“But I think that Red Bull are doing a good job and the rest of us have a duty to do a better job. I don’t think that’s the fault of the regulator.”

The next regulatory reset will arrive in 2026 when new chassis and power unit rules are introduced, with Allison calling for the rear ride height-responsive floors to become a thing of the past at this point.

Asked whether his concerns raise question marks over the 2026 rules, Allison said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong in particular with ground effect floors, but the particular layout of these ones that have a response to rear ride height that is not particularly good for the cars, that isn’t something that we should carry into 2026.”

As for whether his view is widely accepted within the world of F1, Allison clarified: “I think that amongst the teams, that would be a pragmatically accepted response. I think the FIA is still very much of a mind to place weight management at the top of the tree of everything, sacrificing other stuff.

“And I think it’d be helpful if there was more of a balanced approach to that.” recommends

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Mercedes went back to the drawing board for their F1 2024 car, the W15, the first creation to be designed under Allison since his return to the technical director role.

Red Bull picked up where they left off though at the start of the new season, as Verstappen led home a comfortable one-two finish for the team in Bahrain.

However, Allison was having none of the suggestion that Red Bull are out of reach until 2026.

“Ah, come on. It’s a 24-race season,” he stressed. “We’ll be pushing ahead with this, trying to make sure that we’re competitive in this season.

“Still more the following year and the year after that too, so don’t be so pessimistic [laughs].”

Mercedes will go into the final year of the current regulations with a new driver pairing, as their seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton will be wearing Ferrari red come 2025.

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