Mark Hughes says James Allison will “have a much greater impact upon 2024”

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F1 journalist Mark Hughes takes a look at what the change of technical director means for Mercedes, and what we can expect regarding the development of the W14.

Earlier today 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 will assume the CTO role.

In his The Race column, F1 journalist Mark Hughes took a look at what this change means for Mercedes.

“Having James Allison back in the Mercedes technical director seat will have a much greater impact upon 2024 than this Formula 1 season,” Hughes wrote.

“The development plan for the current car is already well-established and would be happening regardless.”

Hughes then said he believes Mercedes will try to start from scratch with their 2024 car.

“Having travelled a long way down the wrong path, Mercedes is effectively looking to start again with its 2024 car which will, we can assume, be much more Red Bull-like in concept.

“Allison will now be leading that project, while Elliott concentrates on longer-term research and technical resource allocation, with particular emphasis on 2026.”

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As for the development of this year’s car – the W14, Hughes believes this is what we can expect:

  • “The new sidepod that will appear on the car soon was already in the planning before the car was launched as the gains in the tunnel of the original concept had already dried up in February. The new geometry can be expected to be a move away from the zero-pod.”
  • “There will be a host of regular aerodynamic tweaks based upon the realisation that the car can be run much lower than previously assumed. Perhaps stung by the problems of last year’s car, the W14 was developed in simulation around a certain range of ride heights. Bahrain showed the team it had been over-conservative with that range and the regulation-prescribed floor changes of 2023 allowed it to be way more tolerant of very low ride heights. The optimisation around the recalibrated aero map will involve a lot of new floor parts.”

In the end, Hughes believes any progress made with the W14 will not be a result of this switch.

“These changes were underway already and are unconnected with the Allison/Elliott switch. The real effect of that won’t be seen until next year.

“Any improvement in form we see from the developments of the current car might be attributed to Allison, such will be the time correlation, but it would probably be a mistake to tie that correlation to causation,” Hughes concluded.

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