Allison: The stats are against us for 2024

Allison: The stats are against us for 2024

Allison: The stats are against us for 2024

Mercedes tech boss James Allison is playing down his team’s chances for the 2024 Formula 1 season, claiming statistics are against them making a strong comeback.

The 2023 F1 season was another tough one for the eight-time Constructors’ Champions, despite finishing second behind Champions Red Bull, beating Ferrari in the process.

And as Mercedes plot their resurgence for 2024, they have re-appointed James Allison in the hands-on role of Technical Director in order to steer the team away from the dreaded “zeropod” concept that debuted on their 2022 car the W13 and followed on into 2023 with the W14 under the technical eye of Mike Elliott – now out of Mercedes.

Since Allison took over, Mercedes dropped their slim sidepods in favor of a more conventional design, but could not maximize it in 2023 as the W14 was built around the outgoing philosophy, so Lewis Hamilton and George Russell would have to wait for the upcoming season for a brand new car with a new design concept.

And while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff trumpeted that a gap of 2.5s is achievable next year, his top engineer, Allison, is playing it more safe, based on stats and history that showed that, if a team starts a new era of F1 on the back foot, it will be tough for them to catch up.

No one could catch Mercedes from 2014 when they hit the ground running at the start of the Turbo-hybrid era, and before that no one could catch Red Bull between 2010 and 2013 during what is now known as the blown diffuser era, a concept the Milton Keynes squad pioneered and perfected securing four consecutive Title doubles with Sebastian Vettel.

Speaking to Georgie Ainslie in the Performance People podcast, Allison was quizzed whether Mercedes will be winning again in 2024, he said: I don’t know.

“If you look at the long march of F1 history, then the stats are against us,” he went on. “Teams do not bounce back from slipping from their previous peak in the length of time we have set ourselves but we have nevertheless set a pretty ambitious programme.

“We have quite a lot of strength in depth here and we’ve made quite a lot of progress with next year’s car,” he pointed out. “Whether it proves sufficient enough, only time will tell, but that’s what I’m hoping for us and I know that all my colleagues and team-mates around me will be hoping for the same.”

A backward-looking mentality can be quite depressing

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Allison shed some light on how he and his team tackle to challenge of getting Mercedes back to the front, and stressing the importance of “not lamenting what you once were”.

He explained: If you have that sort of backward-looking mentality it can be quite depressing and likely to prolong the downturn.

“The sooner, on the other hand, you’re able to say ‘we are where we are, let’s not pretend we are deserving of winning at the moment. Let’s figure out what we need to do so we are deserving of winning and let’s enjoy that transition from what we deserve to be right now and what we’re going to be in the future.’

“The sooner everyone can be on that page, A the shorter the slump is and B the more fun it is, because the sense of growing momentum is deeply joyful and the idea that you’re building the things that are going to allow you to walk around the paddock with your chest out at some point in the future, that’s a really energizing thing.

“As much as maybe the outside world might imagine this is deeply painful internally, and on one level it is, it’s also really exciting,” the British engineer concluded.

While Hamilton was vocally unhappy with the “zeropod” concept, Mercedes chose to ignore the advice and feedback of their seven-time F1 Champion driver, which meant that benefitting from 2023 as a year to start their resurgence was not possible.

Now 2024 will be the year they make the transition to a new concept, which realistically means they would have to wait for 2025 until they maximize their potential.

Mercedes beat Ferrari to runner up in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Championship by only three points, and were a whopping 451 points.