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Allison didn't want to "become an embarrassment"

NEWS STORY
26/04/2021

Mercedes technical boss, James Allison insists that the decision to move aside for Mike Elliott was his, the Briton saying that he didn't want to "become an embarrassment".

Ahead of the Emilia Romagna weekend, Mercedes announced that it was to "evolve" its technical leadership at Brackley, with a new role of Chief Technical Officer (CTO) being specifically created for James Allison, while, former McLaren and Renault man, Mike Elliott would be promoted to the role of Technical Director.

An integral part of Mercedes since joining the team from Ferrari in 2017, Allison insists that the decision to vacate the role of technical director was his.

"I wanted to make sure that I could be true to this team," said the Briton, according to Motorsport Week, "to make sure that I committed to being a technical director over a period where I could earn my salt but not to outstay my welcome, and to know when the right time to step away was.

"I would much rather that was done while I was still useful than becoming an old embarrassment," he added, "and that was what was playing on my mind at the time.

"During the period I was really comfortable and confident to commit to as technical director, we have been collectively working to make sure that the transition from me to Mike would be a success, and would give the company all the benefits that would come from the vigour of a new set of hands in charge."

Admitting that he presumed stepping down as technical director would mean leaving Mercedes, Allison says the decision to create a new role for him was Toto Wolff's idea, a move that was unlikely to have been for sentimental or altruistic purposes.

"When I felt this was the right thing for me, and the best thing for the team to do, to step away, I very much thought that I would be stepping away to my sofa to cheer the team from the sidelines as a punter," he admitted. "I didn't imagine there would be a space in the team having relinquished this brilliant job.

"Happily, Toto saw it a little differently and, between us, we worked to save the manner in which I could contribute to the team but with the absolute backstop that my future role could not in any way undermine the crucial importance of the technical director having the real proper responsibility that the technical director should have for the challenge beneath him.

"The new role had to be one that was not in the front line, was not part of the day-to-day, was not part of the current car or indeed next year's car. It had to be a role where I could focus on longer wavelength stuff than that, and looking at what challenges the entire company might face and how could we best equip ourselves technically to make sure we are well set to face them.

"It really is what it is described as. It is not an operational role that is the preserve of a technical director."

Allison, who first entered F1 with Benetton after graduating from Cambridge in 1991, and who enjoyed spells with Larrousse and Lotus F1, as well as Ferrari and Renault, insists that he has no regrets in making the decision to stand aside, despite, at 53, being relatively young.

"I'm sure it is the right thing to do," he said, "but a huge part of me is screaming at me saying 'what on earth are you doing?'

"It is definitely the right thing for me and it is definitely the right thing for the team. The second of those two is the more important.

"I'm pretty sure that I will be able to look back at this golden period that I have been lucky enough to have late in my F1 career, and think how lucky I was to fall in with this group of people at this time and be part of what is arguably the most successful and amazing Formula 1 team that there has ever been."

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