Allison: Doubly important to get 2024 car good

Allison: Concept is actually nothing to do with the car

Allison: Doubly important to get 2024 car good

James Allison, Mercedes’ Technical Director, corrected the phrase “concept” used by many in Formula 1, revealing the process the team has gone through to change ahead of 2024.

Mercedes are gearing up for a fresh start for the 2024 F1 season, as they plan to overhaul their car concept after two underwhelming campaigns in 2022 and 2023 where they finished third and second in the Constructors’ Championship.

Mercedes debuted a striking slim sidepod car in 2022 but that machine failed miserably turning out to be slow bouncing trap that Lewis Hamilton and George Russell dreaded every moment they spent in its cockpit.


The team persevered with the same design in 2023 the results no better but have now decided to follow a different path with Allison retaking the Technical Director job from Mike Elliott – in charge of the slim sidepods – the latter briefly holding Chief Technical Officer role before leaving Mercedes altogether.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Allison shed some light on Mercedes’ process of change, also busting some myths or misconceptions regarding the word “concept” which he insisted is a process.

Allison said: “To the mind of a designer or a performance person in F1, concept is actually nothing to do with the car.

“It’s about a process by which you decide what good looks like, and what bad looks like. It’s your methodology for sort of sieving out all the many, many things you might put on the car and finding only the ones that you really think are going to add lap time, it’s method. The car itself is just the output of that method,” he explained.

“So when you talk to us about concept, we’re hearing, ‘What, you think our wind-tunnel weighting system wasn’t right?’ And we’ve changed that, or our way of meshing in CFD was wrong and we’ve changed the concept of that.

“That’s what concept means to us and the car just pops out at the far side of that when we apply that process and that concept,” the engineer revealed.

Allison went on to explain that as a result of the “concept” change Mercedes have applied, the 2024 car will end up being a different beast.

He said: “Of course the last two years have required us to adjust our approach and our methodology, our concept, if you will, and as a result of that the hardware that pops out the far side of that, will necessarily be different hardware, because it’s defined by different decisions and different weightings of what’s important and what isn’t.

“You get all excited by the end result, but actually our fate is made by the approach,” Allison maintained.

Slim sidepods not the only reason of Mercedes’ troubles

Drastically upgraded Mercedes in Bahrain, almost no sidepods

As for the slim sidepods or the “zeropods” as they became known, Allison insisted they were not the only reason why the 2022 and 2023 F1 cars were so bad.

“I don’t quite see the world the same way as you guys do, looking at a sidepod and deciding that’s a concept,” he said.

“We definitely took a path with our car, and I would say that’s from the tip of the nose to the very back of the tail, which was not a competitive one.

“The most visually notable aspect of that was our sidepods, but by no means the definitive factor,” he pointed out.

“It was not right from front to back and that’s the thing we have had to learn and have had to deal with – that’s taken us longer than we would have like.

“But the sidepods are maybe emblematic of a team that took a little too long to figure out which way was up, but by no means the distinguishing feature that sealed our fate,” the Briton concluded.

Allison has recently signed a long-term extension to his Mercedes contract, and while the exact duration of the contract was not specified, the team said their tech boss will be around when the new F1 regulations (power unit and cars) debut in 2026.