Mercedes’ James Allison on modern Formula 1 technical director role

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes’ technical boss James Allison talks about the role of technical director in modern Formula 1 and how it evolved through history.

“In general terms, the technical director is responsible for making sure the car is legal, safe, fast and reliable,” said Allison.

“He or she tries to marshal all of the technical resources the company is able to provide, to maximise the possibility that you’ll win a championship in any given year.

“My role – I guess – is to coordinate with those folk to try and find consensus among them where it’s not self-evident what the path forward should be. On occasion, I make single decisions because they just require somebody to make a decision.

“That job is like many managerial jobs, in that it requires the setting of objectives, and putting in place the resources to follow those objectives.”

Allison, who honed his craft with Benneton and Larrousse in the 1990s and later held senior positions with Ranault, Ferrari and Mercedes, is the perfect person to talk about how the TD role changed with the times.

“It really is a different job now,” explained the Brit.

“When the teams were smaller, they tended to be run in a very autocratic style by someone with an extremely strong personality – which is the polite way of saying a horrendous bully. Teams would labour under the whip of one person whose vision would be stamped on every part of the car.

“A good team would have an autocrat who made good decisions and a bad team would have a similarly autocratic figure who made bad decisions – but that model simply doesn’t work anymore.

“Once you scale the team up above a certain size, however much bandwidth a person has, they can’t cover that much ground.

“The organisation gets logjammed by the inability to make decisions – because the apex predator just can’t make enough of them quickly enough.”

You can read more in Formula1.com’s feature article.

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