James Allison explains why he stepped away and then returned to TD role

© Daimler AG

James Allison explain what led to him leaving the role of Mercedes technical director, and why he is now ready to again be “up to my neck in it”.

Last Friday it was revealed that Mercedes decided to return the team’s Chief Technical Officer James Allison to his previous position of Technical Director, while current TD Mike Elliot assumed the CTO role.

Back in 2021 Allison stepped away from his TD role to become the team’s CTO, while Technology Director Mike Elliott got promoted to Allison’s former position.

Allison’s new position meant that he stopped having day-to-day duties when it comes to the design of Mercedes’ F1 cars, while his influence expanded to the team’s applied science division.

He also became INEOS Britannia sailing team’s Chief Technical Officer, as they prepared to challenge for the America’s Cup.

In these roles, James reduced his work schedule to only three days a week, but now he has again taken on a full-time role with the team. So, what changed?

In an interview on the F1 Nation podcast, Allison explained why he decided to step away back in 2021.

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“A lot of that goes back to the very, very long tragic shadow cast by my wife dying,” the Briton said.

“And being lucky enough, a few years later, to meet somebody else, who at the time was living in France, and working in France, and had all her life in France, and had done for 20 years or so.

“And when she kindly, and some would say foolishly, agreed to come and cast her lot in with me, so that we could live together, she was giving up an awful lot.

“It was a little unfair, or it seemed a little unfair from my point of view, to cast her adrift and say thanks for coming over to England, I’ll see you five minutes a week!

“The stepping back from the frontline role of technical director allowed some space for our relationship to flourish in a way that would have been tough otherwise.

“But that was over two years ago now that Chloe moved over and, and she has some roots in this country now doing her own thing that doesn’t depend on my face.

“And so it’s much more believable, much more possible now to do this than it would have been two and a bit years ago.”

Allison admits it will take some time for him to get back up to speed again with Mercedes’ day-to-day operation.

“I was much less involved than I had been as a technical director. I was more manoeuvring around in the sort of 2026 space than in the here and now of the current car.

“It certainly is a fair chunk of effort to get up to speed with everything. Not merely the regulations, but the full engine of the factory and the race team and all the things that are currently in play in the championship fight.

“But it’s exciting and fun and interesting, and a pleasure to be back up to my neck in it,” he concluded.

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