Allison: Ferrari’s top-down leadership style can lead it astray

Allison Raikkonen

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes that the heritage and history of Ferrari can prove a burden for the team.

Prior to joining the Silver Arrows, Allison spent two spells with the Scuderia and said he still has plenty of affection for the Maranello outfit.

Ferrari have struggled during the opening three races of the 2020 season and currently sit fifth in the championship standings.

“Well, clearly, I wouldn’t have gone back to Ferrari a second time if working there was a miserable experience,” said Allison.

“I had two very important parts of my career at Ferrari and have massive affection for the brand, for the people there and I hope they wouldn’t mind me saying, I’ve got many friends in that team. So working at Ferrari is in many ways an unalloyed joy, but the country is so pro the team, the brand is so strong, the history and heritage of Ferrari are so important that you do feel that you are part of something that is itself important and that is a real strength for that group.”

However, Allison said that the fact that the team and the brand has so much support, history and heritage can also prove a burden that creates pressure.

“But it’s also probably their biggest burden that they carry, too, because along with that affection and joy that the nation shares in Ferrari’s successes comes a great deal of pressure when things are going poorly,” he added.

“That pressure is externally applied from the press in a much more intense way than any other Formula One team. It is internally applied from just everyone who feels the duty to be living up to the great performances that the team has shown in the past.

“And it is, I think, most powerfully internally expressed by a top-down leadership style that at Ferrari is probably more exaggerated than in other teams, and that tends to make the team make short-term decisions and can lead it astray instead of building fundamental strengths that will carry it from year to year. So it is a real mixture of these heady highs and base lows which have, at their root, the same origin which is the huge desire within the team and without, for the Ferrari brand to be fighting at the front of the field.”