Technical director James Allison has signed a long-term deal to remain at Mercedes

Mercedes technical director James Allison has signed a new „long-term” contract to commit his future to the team in Formula One's next technical regulations until 2026.

The deal follows the news earlier this week that team chairman Toto Wolff had signed a deal to stay at the club until the end of the 2026 season, strengthening the leadership position at the former champions.

„Simply put, he's the most impressive technical leader in our sport,” Wolff said of Allison. “His gladiator spirit, coupled with his knowledge, experience and determination, make him second to none.

„Since joining in 2017, he has been a key ally and sparring partner for me personally. We can challenge each other openly and honestly; he is the epitome of the team's 'tough love' culture, which helps us all perform better. So much better. Most importantly, James is a true Friend, you can be trusted not only in times of success, but also in times of difficulty.”

Allison's news comes at the dawn of a new Formula One season, with Mercedes looking to return to winning ways after only one race win in the past two seasons.

Before the current set of regulations were introduced in 2022, the team won eight consecutive constructors' championships in an unprecedented run of dominance.

In 2021, with the team's winning season coming to a close, Allison played a reduced role when Mike Elliott took over as technical director and was named chief technical officer.

Following the team's struggles in 2022 and early 2023, Elliott and Allison switched positions to increase Allison's involvement in leading technical decisions before Elliott left the company at the end of the season.

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Allison said the challenge his team now faces in catching Red Bull, who won 21 of 22 races last year, is one of the main reasons he wants to stay in his role.

„It's actually a lot of fun!” He told reporters through video. „It's not as fun as winning, that's for sure. But you have to love the game as a whole, and that includes taking your licks when you're not doing enough.

„One of the things to admire about Red Bull's current performance is that they have been sporting their work in the wilderness for so long and are now enjoying the fruits of that hard work. That's as long as the team is collectively confident that it is making the right moves to try to re-establish itself as a force to be reckoned with.

„There's a lot of fun in it. It's not linear or expecting anything, it's always a roller coaster of getting your confidence up, getting slapped and beaten by the racing gods and then picking your skirts back up again. Another motivation. And I'm sure the ride will be steeper and stronger and safer. But for our competitors. It's going to be a lot of fun trying to drive it as fast as we can to give it a good old fight.”

Catching up with Red Bull

Mercedes will launch its new car on February 14 ahead of a three-day preseason test in Bahrain from February 21 and the first race of the season on March 2.

Asked if his team was in a position to challenge Red Bull this year, Allison said: „I think Toto has drawn a comparison between climbing Everest and the challenge ahead of us. And I think it's a very apt comparison because Everest is the toughest of challenges, but it's also a possible one.

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„And I think we're taking it absolutely as a challenge rather than a favorite. But we believe we've done a good job with the new car and we've addressed some of the flaws that were publicly displayed last year.

„And there's also a little bit in the back of our heads, which is that the rules for the amount of lap times that these cars are capable of producing have a very clear upper limit to them. Very clear. They're more bound to them than the older generation cars, and the more love you put into them, the more work you put into them. Quickly they became endless.

„If you look at last year, I think you see from the start of the season, to the end of the season – even though Red Bull's dominance was almost complete, they didn't look vulnerable even to the last race of the year. – If you look at the big picture, it's a gradually narrowing phase, and all in Q1 The cars were also crushed within a second of each other, and that was no coincidence.

„This is a trend that has been going on since 2022, continued in 2023, and I think will continue to show itself in 2024, because the gains are becoming more and more asymptomatic. Then I think, in addition to us I hope that I worked well, this time and for the top of the last phase. My guess is that it will be relatively busy nearby.

„There, if we're good in that fight, the operational stuff – driver excellence, the reliability of the car, the skill of the service crew – all start to become different factors. There, too, we've cleaned up a performance that was less than stellar at times last year.”

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Hope for a new car

While the new Mercedes car — dubbed the W15 — hasn't hit the track yet, it's running in a virtual world in the team's driver-in-the-loop simulator.

Many of the issues that plagued drivers last year appear to have been resolved, but he stopped short of being positive about the car's potential competitiveness until he saw what rival teams produced.

„At this time of the year nothing is possible but fear, excitement, fear… It's always the emotions you feel, even at Red Bull I would imagine that after a year so good. Performance, they won't sleep easy in their beds because what everyone has to offer No one knows.

„However, some of the obnoxious characteristics of the rear end of our car are a bit friendlier to us, and we have some confidence that the car will be a joy to handle. It's all in the simulation. , we have good reason to believe that we've made some gains there.

„On top of that, you've got all the normal housekeeping-type stuff to lighten it up, make it more lean, and get a little bit of improvement from the power unit side with the calibration level tinkering. It can be done under these current rules.

„So it's going to be a long enough time, but it's going to be interesting because we've seen some things that we know are problems, and we've hypothesized what causes those problems. We've fixed those causes. It's going to be interesting. Find out how accurate we were in that diagnosis.”

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