Ferrari’s best weekend of F1 season overshadowed by Allison repatriation story
Scuderia Ferrari
James Allison
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jun 2016   |  3:42 pm GMT  |  53 comments

By general consensus this was an excellent weekend for the Ferrari team, only just coming up short of the race victory they felt might be possible and qualifying a tenth behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. It was a huge step forward and a boost to morale.

But in the background this weekend there have been strong indications from well placed sources suggesting that technical director James Allison is headed back to live in the UK after the tragic death of his wife Becky in March.

Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene had little choice at this point but to issue a denial and a strong one at that,

“It’s absolutely not true. James is our technical director. He went through a very difficult period that I would not wish on anyone to go through,” he said.

“We’re all around him and he with us. And this is the most important thing. Talking about him in the way I have read in the last few days, it shows a lack of respect, I am sorry to say so.”

James Allison

Allison, 48, is an extremely strong man, but the sudden loss of his wife, mother of his three children, from meningitis was unbearable and most of his peers in the F1 paddock, especially those of the same generation, felt his agony.

He spent some time in the UK afterwards then returned to work in April and has been masterminding the development of the Ferrari car, which culminated in the performance step seen in Montreal this weekend.

Allison is regarded as one of the best engineering leaders in the sport. He was apprentice to Ross Brawn and has shuttled between Enstone under its guises of Benetton and later Renault and Ferrari, where he did his first spell under Brawn in the Michael Schumacher years.

Behind Adrian Newey and Paddy Lowe, his is probably the most valuable signature on an engineering contract in F1. James Key, who is currently at Toro Rosso, is in high demand, but Red Bull has made it clear that he will not be going anywhere.

Sebastian Vettel

If it turns out that Allison is headed back to the UK it will be a huge loss to Ferrari and he will be very hard to replace. He has strong chemistry with the two design leaders in chassis and engine, Simone Resta and Mattia Binotto and gets the best out of both. But Ferrari learned in the past with Aldo Costa, that a great designer doesn’t necessarily make a great technical director. It’s the job of a band leader, who knows where and how to deploy resources and Allison has taken on the Brawn mantle in that respect.

The team has Jock Clear in a chief operations role and he is beginning to make his presence felt after joining earlier this season following gardening leave from Mercedes. But operations is his game.

He knows Meredes’ operations better than anyone outside Brackley and the strategy moves in Canada bear the hallmarks of him and his strategy team feeling that an aggressive approach in the race was the only way to go; Ferrari couldn’t match Mercedes pace on the soft tyre so even though Vettel was leading in the first stint he was not likely to win by doing the same thing as Hamilton. The decision was to put Mercedes into a position where they needed to counter Ferrari’s move with a one-stop strategy, which was not the original plan.

For the second race in a row, Hamilton got the tyres to last and pulled off the win.

Allison has inevitably been linked with a move back to Enstone, which is close to the family home in south Oxford. The team has Fred Vasseur as team principal and Bob Bell in his customary technical overseeing role. There is certainly space to Allison there.

Time will tell, but there were enough people inside teams and the higher echelons of the sport at the weekend, who were talking openly of Allison returning to the UK to make it more than just media speculation.

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I gotta be honest,

I am with Arrivabene on this.

No matter what James Allison decides, I doubt that speculation over where he will be employed within a year is very appropriate right now considering the circumstances.

This is a man dealing with a tragedy in life. I think it’s unfortunate to complicate things like this for him with these reports. If he is thinking of making a life change, he deserves privacy while he is sorting out his decision.


Agree with Arrivabene, speculation is a lack of respect. My thoughts are with Allison through this horrific time.


Just another suggestion – Allison could consider moving his children to Italy and put them through school there. They would have a second language and learn a new culture. Lots of families up sticks.


Must be an incredibly tough time for Allison but Im just wondering if theres another way to do this. Maybe working from home in England or even bringing the family to Italy- it may be the distraction they could use right now. But if not, the first priority especially for a sole parent must be the kids. Can only wish him well he seems like a top bloke.

Ferrari must be taboo for top people now after the axings of 2009 & 2014. The only question now is do they have anyone within who can step up to the plate.. 2017 project is just getting off the ground and they really need some continuity at least till the start of next year.


Is Italy such a bad place to raise children? I’m pretty sure that Ferrari has the resources to supply a very comfortable family home and whatever support he and his children need, nannies, tutors, chefs, accommodation for the grandparents etc. Hardly the other side of the world, it’s under 3 hours by private jet for visits to the relatives. If he really wants to stay at Ferrari I really don’t see any obstacles that can’t be overcome.


As much as I’d like to see Allison staying with Ferrari, it’s a no brainier if he decides to go back to UK. Family is more than F1.


hi james…..what was your first question to hamilton after the canadian grand prix qualifying session and what was it’s intention? his response was very nervous.


I asked him if he felt he had it under control throughout. The intention was to get him to explain how confident he had felt as the session went on


Would not surprise me if he took a years break. When you loose a loved one, everything seems totally irrelevant and and far from important. The best place for James is with his family imo


I would say beg and plead with Ross Brawn to come back, but after Schumacher’s tragic accident, i doubt if Ross Brawn has the motivation for a high stress job. Besides, the Scuderia of the past during Brawn-Todt-Schumi-Byrne days and the Scuderia of today are very different.

Stephen Taylor

James why was Kimi 58 seconds behind his team mate at race end? His race was dismal.


The no. 2 driver was flying too high after the first few races – how dare he. His wings needed to be clipped. So it has happened in the last 2 races.

H.Guderian (ALO Fan)

1) He is slow.
2) He does not know how to “develop” the car.

P.S.: 3) The car does not suits his “driving style”???


Starting 6th was as usual they key problem of his own making. The first pitstop was ill fated because the VSC switched off as they committed him to pit and he dropped to 13th. He was fine coming back through the field till he was asked to fuel save which caused his tyres to cool outside their peak then the race slid away from him.
I guess if a bad weekend means starting 6th and finishing 6th. Then a fantastic weekend starting 2nd and finishing 2nd really shouldnt get people excited but somehow it does.


Kimi said after the race that when he had to fuel save his tyres lost their grip. They were fine when he could push but he couldn’t push all the time…he’s always had issues with getting heat into his tyres – sometimes that is good as the tyres last longer, and sometimes it is bad when you need the heat to get any grip.


Maybe you answered your own question


As Kimi fans, week after week for almost 2 and a bit years, we have been blaming something or the other to explain the gap between Kimi and his team mates.. but on the whole, if we keep noticing it, there must be something amiss right?

Unlike 2014, this year’s project has more James Allison in it than even 2015. Was Kimi and Grosjean both ordinary at Lotus in 2013 under performing to the Lotus’s full potential then?

I really have my doubts about Romain because Esteban, an aging Kimi and Pastor – they really were not the best comparisons and that too Kimi had superiority over Romain in 2013 except for the last few races after Kimi announced his shift to Ferrari.

I would be disappointed to see Romain at Ferrari next year, not when Hulkenberg, Perez and Sainz are also driving on the grid and hopefully available. Bottas again is very similar to Massa who was well past his prime even before he joined Williams.

Honestly they would be better off with Jenson Button even next year if Kimi doesnt feel like driving anymore but please not Bottas or Romain. I would hope for Sainz or Perez or even Rosberg!


Not blaming anything .It wasnt good enough qualifying 6th. From there it was always tuff to make the tyres work whilst following cars and saving fuel. Kimi is not good in cold / wet conditions – same for Rosberg actually.

H.Guderian (ALO Fan)



The Woking area apparently offers a good quality of life for anyone working in F1.


As a father myself, were I in his shoes I’d move back for the children in a heart beat. I think most fathers would,but not all. One can only hope that should he choose to return home Ferrari release him without any hesitation. No doubt a long period of gardening leave would be required as is the contractual norm.
God bless him and his family.


Agree. Only one thing matters in this whole situation… 3 things… those kids. A man can get over a woman but a child will never get over a mother.


“Get over a woman”?? She was his wife of 25+ years and she died unexpectedly! They did not break up so that he “gets over” her!
I am sorry if I am appearing agressive but I found your comment quite cynical!


Your comment is justified. It seems a different situation to what I’d imagined. (older children)
I just saw it from my perspective and what saddened me most was a child losing a mother.


The kids are 17 years upwards


17 upwards? So with three kids and assuming they are not triplets, at least two of them are 18 or above, which means College or Gap year.. travel to Italy maybe? Also, a change of scenery may be something to look forward to for the kids, and a boat load of work pressure might be good for the grieving husband to divert his attention to. So we should not be critical of him if we still find him at Ferrari next year.


Let’s face it, if you check Allison’s past achievements, regarding the cars he was involved with and the championship positions they took:
you have to come to the conclusion that teams that run Allison’s creations are usually booked for Place 3 to 4 in the championship. With big Ferrari money and the usually great teams (Red Bull, McLaren) performing sub standard because of engine troubles a second place for Ferrari was possible in 2015, but we can see that Red Bull are on the rise and McLaren is slowly working its way forward again and I doubt that Allison has what it needs to make Ferrari win a championship.

F1 fan working in AI

“Behind Adrian Newey and Paddy Lowe”
By who’s measure? The number of constructors/driver’s championships, or both? In any case, one could argue Allison’s signature is more valuable than Newey’s given Adrian’s self confessed lack of motivation in F1 due to him starting to lack ideas.

I also find your comment about the strategy having the hallmarks of Jock Clear quite dubious. Jock came from a team that has got their strategy more often right than wrong. And I seriously hope that the Canadian strategy doesn’t bear these hallmarks as these were more akin to those of Luca Baldisserri when he sent Kimi out with extreme wets when there was no rain or when pitted Alonso to cover Mark Webber in Abu Dhabi.


What are you talking about? Newey is still very much involved in designing the RBR cars. Setting aside the engine woes, RBR always has very good aero performance. With the new rules next year, they will most certainly be a serious contender to Mercedes. Ferrari, not so much…


Let’s see how fast next year’s Red Bull is then discuss Newey’s value. He’s still involved, don’t worry!


IMO Allison will quit Ferrari to go back to England and raise his children.
They are very young.
A ToroRosso swap with James Key could be a solution.
Or also Lotus-Renault to go back to Enstone.


Just how untouchable is James key for Ferrari?!
It could only be a matter of how long the ‘gardening leave’ would be.
Regardless fo whether Allison were to go, or not, Ferrari should already be signing the contract with Key.


He’s not the right guy for them and for that culture


Is there anyone else in the paddock who you think could potentially do a great job at Ferrari?


Would be sad to see him leave Ferrari. And if he does leave, that would be the end of Kimi at Ferrari too. He was the main proponent and had pushed for Kimi to join Ferrari after their time together at Lotus.


Can’t they just have Allision work in their UK offiice like John Barnard did ?


Ferrari prefer everything to be in Italy.
Thereby stating that it’s a home team.
They wouldn’t anything to happen outside their F1 building in Italy.


Or Ferrari buy the old Caterham offices in Leafield to work out of? 10 minutes from Enstone.


Isn’t that owned by Haas now?


Things have changed a lot in modern F1. Now the technical director pretty much have to live in the factory.

Ricki Sanguinetti

This is really really going to hurt.Allison is a great guy.For him to be able to stay apolitical in Maranello speaks great volume of how wonderful he is.
In life,all is not about wealth.He certainly needs to balance work and life especially when you have young kids.
I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
Great and straight shooting guys like him are hard to find.


Well if Allison heads back to England then Renault will be a good Team to return too.
Ferrari will have to stick with Arrivabene…for a while longer ,before another neck is placed on the Ferrari ceremonial block as head of their F1 team.


It has to be extremely difficult for him right now. Family first. You have to assume that family support is critical these days and the kids need both their direct and extended family, and their dad. Best wishes.


Could you not have found a picture where it looks a bit less like James has been snapped making secret plans to abandon Ferrari?


I really hope he sticks around. I would understand his reasons if he left, but it would hurt.


Would hurt whom, Ferrari or his children?


Sorry, I thought the context was quite clear; it would hurt Ferrari. Were you genuinely confused, or were you just trying to be a pain in the rear?

Tornillo Amarillo

It sounds like a no-brainer ALLISON has to return because of his children, at least for a couple of years.

James, you mention Key and Toro Rosso, but is it just me or Toro Rosso will be the new “Red Bull” in 2017? Like equal powerhouses…

I mean, it seems they are upgrading the car with PU, gearbox, suspension… Maybe they have such a good lot of drivers and money and it appears that upgrade the whole team is better that let SAINZ go. With 3 or 4 good drivers and cars they could be unstoppable from next year on, do you see that?


Poor guy…I really feel for him…Ferrari need him but they will find another…I hope he returns to the UK…


If this rumor is true, What a loss to Ferrari. He did a great job. Just pay Aldo costa whatever he wants and get him back. Why not Ross Brawn himself?


Why would a man Ferrari showed the exit door too ,want to return to a place where the exit door is always flashing .
Aldo is in charge of his department that he developed, loved at Mercedes and is in a similar position to Adrian Newey and paid big bucks. You’d be a mentalist to go back to Ferrari and all that stress and threat of sacking looming over his head…again. Aldo would give them a ???????? down .


In my opinion he’d be a lunatic to go back; but hen Kimi did… Big bucks I guess!


Who has been fired in the last two seasons? You make it sound like a revolving door when in fact a good deal of the team was sacked for years of lackluster performance at Ferrari at the end of 2014. Since then Ferrari has been extremely stable.

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