“Rather than becoming an embarrassment”: Allison discloses why he quit Mercedes job

Mercedes technical director James Allison recently revealed that he will be taking up the role of Chief Technical Officer from July. Mike Elliott, who is the technology director, will replace him.

Allison joined Mercedes back in 2017 and played a key role in keeping the outfit at the top. However, it has been clear for some time that he did not want to stay in this role anymore.

Back in 2019, during his contract discussions, he already had plans to step back as that would help him hand things over in the best possible shape.

“I wanted to make sure that I could be true to this team, 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,” he said.

“I would much rather that was done while I was still useful than becoming an old embarrassment, 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.”

Allison was expecting to end all ties with Mercedes after stepping down from his position. But Toto Wolff felt that he would be beneficial for the outfit and decided to hand him the position of CTO.

“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 explained.

“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.”

Do you think Allison’s new position could play in Mercedes’ favor? Let us know in the comments below!

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