Mercedes has hired former Ferrari and Lotus Formula 1 technical director James Allison, it was announced today.
The 48-year-old Englishman left Ferrari last summer after the death of his wife and reports of rift with the Scuderia’s chairman, Sergio Marchionne. He will join Mercedes on 1 March 2017.
Before taking up his position with Ferrari, which was his second stint at the Italian team after he worked there during its dominant F1 years at the turn of the century, Allison was the technical director at the Enstone-based Renault and Lotus squads.
Speaking as the news was announced, Allison said: “I am very excited to be getting back to work after this time away from the sport. It’s a massive privilege to be given the trust of a position in a team that has done so spectacularly well in the past three seasons. I am really looking forward to playing my part in helping Mercedes go from strength to strength in the coming years.”
The news of Allison’s appointment at Mercedes comes a month after the world champion squad’s former technical executive director Paddy Lowe left the team and began a period of gardening leave, which is expected to lead to him joining Williams in a senior management position.
Mercedes 2017 challenger, the W08, will be revealed at the Silverstone circuit on 23 February, and will be driven in the upcoming season by triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, and new recruit Valtteri Bottas, who was hired to replace the 2016 title winner, Nico Rosberg.
The Brackley-based team has won the last three drivers’ and constructors’ championships, and is attempting to retain its titles despite the major regulation changes that F1 is introducing for the 2017 season.
The new cars will look visually more aggressive with wider bodywork and front wings, wider and lower rear wings, as well as bigger tyres. The changes will create a significant increase in downforce and will emphasise the need for strong aerodynamics performance, which was a notable feature of Allison’s race winning Lotus cars from 2012 and 2013.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff welcomed Allison to the team and described him as “the perfect guy” to head up its technical department.
He said: “I am delighted to welcome James to Mercedes and very much looking forward to working with him. Our technical team is extremely skilled at every level and at the top of its game after delivering three world championships in a row.
“It wasn’t an easy task to find the right personality who can strengthen our experienced group of engineers, give our talented young team members the space to develop and also bring his own vision to this role. James is a sharp engineer; I think we have found the perfect guy and the right fit with our senior leaders.”
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