Toto Wolff explains James Allison’s return as technical director

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff explains the reasons behind James Allison’s return to his former technical director role, and reveals it was Mike Elliott’s idea.

Autosport.com revealed earlier today that Mercedes decided to return the team’s Chief Technical Officer James Allison to his previous position of Technical Director, while TD Mike Elliot will assume the CTO role.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff reveals the switch was Elliott’s idea.

“This was very much driven by Mike Elliott owning the process,” Wolff told Autosport.

“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.

“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.


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“It’s about creating a structure that can be sustainably successful going into the next generation.

“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.”

Mercedes has also changed the job profile of its Chief Designer John Owen. Owen will now focus fully on car design, while his deputy Giacomo Tortora will become the engineering director, and he will focus on the design office and the organisational development.

Toto explained the reasoning behind the move.



“John Owen as the director of car design had a very different job profile under the cost cap because, in addition to the creative part of designing a car, you have a tonne of extra work that comes with it.

“What happened is that the chief designer became a cost cap administrator. So, we’ve split the role. John stays as the chief designer, but we have mandated Giacomo Tortora to become the engineering director.

“It means John can concentrate on the specifics of the car design, and Giacomo looks after the design office, and the organisational development.”

Wolff added that Allison’s return will not change the direction of Mercedes’ car development plan, as the team believes they are on the right path.

“We have a path now that we believe is the right one, it’s just different personalities and a different management structure,” he concluded.

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