James Allison, Mercedes, 2022

Allison replaces Elliott as Mercedes technical director amid reshuffle

2023 F1 season

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Mercedes have confirmed former technical director James Allison has returned to the position in place of Mike Elliott, who in turn has taken Allison’s role of chief technical officer.

Elliott had been technical director of the Mercedes team since 2021, when he tradied positions with Allison. However, ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku next week, Mercedes have swapped the two senior technical staff back to their previous positions.

Mercedes chief designer John Owen’s position has also been amended in the reshuffle, with Giacomo Tortora being made the team’s new engineering director. A Mercedes spokesperson confirmed details of the changes to RaceFans.

The team lie third in the constructors’ championship behind rivals Red Bull and power unit customers Aston Martin after the first three races of 2023. The team endured a difficult 2022 season, out of contention for the championship and only scoring a single race victory.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted the team have been disappointed with their start to their 2023 campaign. “It’s been difficult so far,” Wolff said in a Q&A on Mercedes’ website this week.

“With the way we developed the car, we were hopeful of sorting out our issues from last year. And we realised we weren’t coming out of the blocks where we expected to be. Having said that, we don’t feel any sense of entitlement. This is the toughest competition in the world, and it wouldn’t be such a fantastic challenge if it was easy.”

Mercedes have taken a single podium finish over the opening three rounds, with Lewis Hamilton finishing second in the Australian Grand Prix earlier this month. Team mate George Russell had led the early laps of the race before losing out when he pitted under an early Safety Car, then retiring with a power unit failure.

“In terms of car development, it is encouraging to see that within three races, we understand the car much better, we have defined a clear direction where we need to go and I believe we are on the right trajectory,” Wolff said. “We need to consolidate our understanding and hopefully over the next few races we can make another step.

“It’s also important to keep on track and not oscillate too much between exuberance and depression; to stay rational and believe in our trajectory, believe in the capability of the team. There will be setbacks but there will also be upgrades and plenty of work that will help us get closer to the front.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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17 comments on “Allison replaces Elliott as Mercedes technical director amid reshuffle”

  1. Imagine failing spectacularly with two of your designs, and then getting promoted to CTO just to get you out of the design office.

    Someone’s got the dirt on someone. Like, proper loads of dirt.

    1. Raymond Pang
      21st April 2023, 14:35

      You know that pre-2021, Elliot was CTO and Allison was TD? It’s not a promotion.

      1. Itsmeagain (@)
        21st April 2023, 15:32

        It’s called ‘promotion’,… and yes we know the former jobs

  2. Is telling your technical director to step aside and let his old boss takeover from him and dictate the design direction also part of “we blame the problem not the people”. A politically correct move by Wolff to tell Elliot to get out of the design office.

    Promoting him to the CTO role and probably locking him with a long term contract is just a move to protect Mercedes intellectual property and work secrets knowing that Vasseur have already got the green light from Ferrari top management to sign whatever available big-wigs in the paddock.

    1. I consider Mike Elliot to be a great aerodynamicist and very experienced F1 engineer. However, that’s not sufficient to be a great TD. Many great engineers considered to be the best aero experts messed up a big time. Take McLaren MP4-18 as an example. Can anyone help me to recollect who designed the car I mentioned that never raced?

      1. Adrian Newey designed the MP4-18

      2. I consider Mike Elliot to be a great aerodynamicist and very experienced F1 engineer

        I have never said otherwise. I was criticizing Toto’s behaviour and their management style. As for the McLaren MP4-18, it was arguably Newey’s worst ever car that came in a period when he was outclassed by his opposite at Ferrari, Byrne. There is no doubt in my mind that Newey, Murray, Byrne, Chapman and Forghieri belong all to the ultimate F1 designers bracket.

        The MP4-18 and the Brabham BT55 share a common trait – they were both unsuccessful ventures. However, their failure led to a series of ideas that were eventually incorporated into other successful cars.

        For Adrian Newey, the extreme packaging ideas he used in the MP4-18 required further refinement and advancements in technology, which he eventually achieved at RBR. On the other hand, Gordon Murray’s lowline concept in the BT55 was sound, but the issues were engine and gearbox related.

        1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          21st April 2023, 21:28

          Add Aldo Costa to that list please?

          1. Also Costa was Rory Byrnes protege. Ferrari should never have let him go!

  3. harsh vardhan harsh vardhan
    21st April 2023, 17:29

    The way Mercedes handled the cry over is like they wanted to do something to convince the board that they did. It is so impatient and the cry over social media is immense.

    What will they do if the car doesn’t outpace rbr by end of 2023 ?

  4. Why do I get the feeling that the 2024 car is going to have even larger side pods? This move by Mercedes is best described as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Russell and Hamilton might want to get into lifeboats and change cruise lines.

    1. I look at my child and I say ‘It’s so nice to be a kid’. I read your post and I can’t help not to say ‘it’s so nice to be Jim from US’.

    2. Probably because you’re not an aerodynamicist, and don’t understand that larger sidepods only create drag.

      I look forward to your detailed explanation for the W14’s lack of pace, and how it relates to their sidepod concept.

      1. True, but they also give you a bigger surface to control and steer the airflow so you have more control.

  5. Mercedes is showing its team members have a mature approach to matching people to the skills needed in any given role. The two engineers arranged this swap between themselves. They want to win not flash their egos about the place.

    Fred at Ferrari will be looking on with envy as the divas at his back and above his head wail on and on focusing on passion not professionalism.

  6. It’s a huge mistake to put Allison in, his main skill is Iterating a successful, championship winning car. His successes have come when he inherited someone else’s great design. It’s not a mystery why he wanted out of the hotseat when new regulations came in. Allison will send Mercedes further backwards.

    1. Whose design was the car? That ykunare talking about.

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