Mercedes have reportedly undergone major change within their technical department, as James Allison and Mike Elliott swapped their roles within the team.
James Allison joined Mercedes as Technical Director from Ferrari back in 2017 and replaces Paddy Lowe who at that time moves to Williams. Allison remained in his role as the tech boss until 2021, when he took a step back and was given the role of Chief Technical Officer as the engineer wished to slow down a bit and reduce his job commitments.
Mike Elliott was chosen by Mercedes to take on the role of Technical Director, but from what we have seen in 2022 and 2023, Elliott has failed miserably is leading the technical team through the major technical changes Formula 1 has applied since 2022 with the new generation of ground effect F1 cars.
Mercedes’ first car under the new regulations, the W13, was radical with a slim sidepod design, but ended up being prone to “porpoising” with any changes done to its setup to reduce the bouncing having the unwanted side-effect of slowing the car down.
Mercedes have kept their design philosophy for 2023, and despite the W14 behaving well in the bouncing department, it turned up being too slow with Aston Martin overtaking the eight-time Constructors’ Champions in the F1 pecking order.
Mercedes have reacted since and planned a major upgrade to the W14, that can be considered as a B-Spec car expected to debut later in May at Imola, with Elliott given an ultimatum to sort out the team car performance problems.
However, a new report in Motorsport.com revealed that a major restructuring was done within Mercedes’ technical department where Allison will return to his role and Technical Director while Elliott become Chief Technical Officer.
Elliot takes the brave decision
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed the change came as an initiative from Elliott who admitted he was not suitable for the Technical Director role and suggested the switch.
“This was very much driven by Mike Elliott owning the process,” Wolff revealed. “So, we have reversed the roles. Mike has moved up to CTO, as he has a brilliant switched-on scientific mind. And James Allison has returned to his technical director position, reporting into Mike.”
“What Mike’s assessment was, and the introspection is really admirable, is that with James we have a gladiator on the field and the troops are going to go through the fire for him and with him,” the Austrian added.
“Mike came to the conclusion that the way he approaches things, his skill set, is best utilised in developing the organisation going forward: from technical capabilities to human capabilities and putting together the structure that can be successful for many years to come,” he explained.
“It’s about creating a structure that can be sustainably successful going into the next generation,” Wolff went on. “We’re seeing huge changes in the technical developments, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“And at the same time, looking at how is a modern Formula 1 team going to be organised and structured: what kind of innovation can be brought in.
“Mike sees himself very much in his sweet spot there and obviously he’s a super capable engineer, very credible and respected in the organisation. He is going to be a coach and sparring partner for the most senior people.
“And I’m actually very happy that Mike took this decision by himself to put himself in this role, with both him and James coming to this conclusion, as we are having both of them in their genius,” the Mercedes boss concluded.