Wolff says “technical twin brother” Allison doesn’t want Mercedes team principal role

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff said the team’s technical director James Allison made it clear he isn’t interested in taking over as team principal.

The team announced last week Allison will move into a new role as chief technical officer later this year while Mike Elliott will take over as technical director.

Wolff said Allison “would absolutely be capable to be the team principal and also he has so much respect within the organisation”, but doesn’t want the job.

“He said ‘never, ever would I do this’,” Wolff explained. “Team principal requires different skills, and so he said ‘no, thank you, no’.”

Wolff called Allison his “technical twin brother”
“James and I speak multiple times every single day, and he’s totally coordinated on the strategic direction of Mercedes motorsport and Mercedes Grand Prix,” Wolff explained. “We decided the CTO role, it must have been a year or two ago we discussed the future of the team principal role in Mercedes, and he made it very clear that that was not for him.

“Since then, obviously, I’m thinking and I’m looking and I’m observing what is happening out there and who’s doing a good job. So finally, I can step back from this madness.”

Wolff described Allison as his “technical twin brother” within the Mercedes organisation.

“I’m also the head of Mercedes motorsport, and so it makes sense to have a technical director for all motorsports programmes. So if you see, I’m the CEO and he’s the CTO and for him, that he enjoyed the idea so we’ve worked on that for a year.

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“On the other side, Mike Elliott just about joined with me – he came from Renault and was the head of aero there – and I have had such a great relationship with him over all these years, and he’s a hugely competent, intelligent and intellectual engineer and someone who has been a fundamental pillar in the team’s success and recognised from the whole organisation, and that’s why I’m really happy that he’s become the technical director.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2019
Allison oversaw Mercedes’ Brazil 2019 weekend in Wolff’s absence
Allison said he decided in 2019 he wanted to step away from the role of technical director, which he took up when he joined Mercedes two years earlier. However it took time to agree his move into the CTO role.

“It was merely a question of organising the timing of that,” said Allison, “in a way that would allow it to be something where the company could grow in strength as a result of handing over to a really, really strong engineer in Mike Elliott, and to do so in a way that allowed the company to attack the championships without missing a step.

“So it was a long time ago that I reached that in my own head and then it takes a while to sort of get building blocks in place to make it a reality.”

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He joined Mercedes after a four-year spell as Ferrari’s technical director which came to an end following the unexpected death of his wife, Rebecca, from meningitis. Allison said his time at Mercedes has brought him happiness at a difficult period in his life.

“Purely professionally, [this was] head and shoulders more fun than anything else that’s happened to me,” he said.

“I think it’s common knowledge that the tragedy in my personal life, losing my wife has meant that the overall experience of being alive has had some difficulties attached to it in the last five years.

“But from a professional point of view, I have been very lucky to find a home in this team and to be welcomed into it in the way that I have.”

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3 comments on “Wolff says “technical twin brother” Allison doesn’t want Mercedes team principal role”

  1. Really happy for him. Mercedes seems to be the most friendliest team for engineers. I don’t think he moves to another team from now on unless Toto/Merc give their blessing.

  2. Translation: Allison will be team principal in the future

    1. Rui (@colinmcrui)
      18th April 2021, 9:10

      I’m not so sure @Balue. This looks like a move for cost cap reasons, as if I remember correctly top executive salaries are excluded. They will put Elliott as TP as soon as there is an engineer groomed for tech director

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