James Allison is the Chief Technical Officer of Mercedes F1. Earlier this week, he stepped down from his previous role of being the Technical Director of the team. Allison is one of, if not the most respected and intelligent engineers in the F1 world. He’s had this unbelievably successful career, which is why he’s an incredibly valuable member of the Mercedes team. He joined the team in 2017 after he left Ferrari after his wife died from meningitis.
It is true Mercedes were already quick from 2014-2016. But the last 4 years have seen Mercedes pull away into an entire league of their own. Despite Ferrari challenging Mercedes in 2017, Mercedes began a strong ascent in mid-2018. They really started pulling away from the rest of the field. Mercedes have dominated both the constructors’ and the drivers’ titles since James Allison joined the team. This clearly proves my point, which is that his move to the team brought clear success. They have truly left their competitors in the dust, especially in the last 2 years.
2020 was an exceptionally dominant year. The Mercedes W11 had so much grip, so much engine power, so much technical superiority. Mercedes won the 2020 Formula 1 Constructors’ World Championship by 254 points. Out of the 17 races that took place in the season, a non-Mercedes driver only won 4 races. The amount of downforce the 2020 car generated and the stability of the car were far superior. And it was all thanks to the amazing mechanics and personnel of the Mercedes Team.
Allison already had a fantastic track record before joining Mercedes. In 1991, which is 30 years ago now, Allison graduated from Cambridge University, where he studied aerospace engineering. He joined the Benetton Formula 1 team‘s aerodynamic department and began his career in F1. Allison went to Larousse F1 as head of aerodynamics for a year in 1992, before returning to Benetton in 1993 with the same title that he held at Larousse.
He stayed with Benetton in this role for many years, and 2 of them were championship-winning years. In 1995, Benetton won the constructor’s championship, with the driver Michael Schumacher winning the drivers’ title for 1995 and 1994. It was glorious, and that means Allison’s name was famous. People noticed his talent, and Allison became the head of Ferrari’s aero department from 2000-2005. These were Ferrari’s most successful years in Formula 1. So James Allison already had a great reputation, and this was around 16 – 20 years ago. However, in 2005, Allison moved to Renault, with a much bigger role of being the deputy technical director. He got 2 more championships on his belt, as Renault won the constructors’ and drivers’ titles in 2005 and 2006.
This was really got for Allison, and it really boosted his reputation in the F1 paddock. And in 2009, Allison got the big promotion, and he became the Technical Director for Renault. He was their technical director throughout the transition from Renault to Lotus Renault to Lotus F1 Team. Allison, who had this massive role, played a big part in Lotus getting back to winning races. They claimed their first race win under the Lotus name when they won the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP. In 2013, James Allison returned to Maranello, this time as the Technical Director of Ferrari. From 2013 – 2016, had an up-and-down ride, but they only realised how valuable James was when he left the team.
Sadly, his wife died in 2016 because of meningitis, which was a big shock and very painful for Allison. He left his job at Ferrari, and then in 2017, he joined Mercedes. Ferrari had lost an incredibly talented and important person, and Mercedes had gained the same. James Allison no longer has the ropes in terms of being the Technical Director. The Technical Director has a day-to-day job of focusing on development on the cars. But as Chief Technical Officer, James Allison will be focusing on getting the team in top shape for the 2022 Aero Regulation Change, which is the biggest regulation change since 2014.
James Allison’s had an illustrious career, and he’s not done yet. But I definitely think he’s going to spend the rest of his F1 days at Mercedes, because that seems to have become a home for him. But this is Formula 1, and you just never know what’s going to happen. I hope you enjoyed this feature on James Allison! Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts.