James Allison is the man behind the spectacular success of Mercedes in Formula One. He joined the Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team in 2017, and after that, there was no going back.
James Allison has played an important role in the success of several prominent Formula One teams. So, let’s rewind a bit to know who James Allison is and his achievements in the sport.
James Allison was born in Louth, Lincolnshire. He is the son of former Royal Air Force officer, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Allison. He attended the University of Cambridge, following which he ventured into the world of Formula One as a Junior Aerodynamic Designer in Benetton F1 in 1991.
Oscillating between Enstone and Maranello
Two years after working at Benetton F1, Allison shifted to the Larrouse F1 squad as Head of Aerodynamics. Unfortunately, the team went broke and failed to deliver results. Allison was soon back at Benetton as an Aerodynamic Designer.
Allison proved to be quite a blessing for Benetton as the team claimed the Drivers’ as well as the Constructors’ title with Michael Schumacher driving for Benetton.
As a result, James Allison was promoted to Head of Aerodynamics in 1997. However, he shifted from Enstone to Maranello to work as Trackside Aerodynamicist with Scuderia Ferrari. Allison brought his lucky charm to Ferrari as the team won six Constructors’ Championships between 1999 and 2004.
His time at Ferrari was not permanent as Allison came back to Benetton (by then known as Renault) and claimed the role of Deputy Technical Director in 2005. Allison was promoted to the position of technical director in 2009. Renault F1 changed its name to Lotus Renault GP in 2011 before reverting to Lotus F1 in 2012.
James returned to Ferrari in 2013, this time as Technical Director. Following a fruitless year for the team in 2014, James’ impact was crucial as Sebastian Vettel won three races the following year, establishing Scuderia as the closest rival to the title-winning Mercedes team.
Making a mark at Mercedes
Allison parted ways with Ferrari in 2016 following the death of his wife. He returned to Formula One in 2017 as the Technical Director of the Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team. Mercedes recently announced a change in their structure and declared that Allison would be promoted to Chief Technical Officer (CTO) role.
There were rumours doing the rounds that James Allison would replace Toto Wolff as the team principal. However, Wolff denied the rumours saying Allison was not interested in the position.
Allison clearly has a long list of impressive numbers on his resume. Since Formula One is a team sport, it’s obvious that Allison’s contribution behind the scenes is critical to a team’s success.
After all, Allison has been a part of a staggering number of driver and championships over the last three decades.