Wolff says Allison is his ‘technical twin brother’ who doesn’t want Team Principal role
Toto Wolff has given some insight into the technical reshuffle that will see James Allison move away from the day to day running of the technical team and into a more strategic role, making him the equivalent – Wolff says – of his “technical twin brother”…
The shock news was announced last month, with current Technology Director Mike Elliott taking over as Technical Director, ending a run of four-and-a-half years in the role for Allison. Mercedes were keen to keep Allison onboard, and so created the new role of Chief Technical Officer, boosting his seniority within the team and given him a wider remit.
“James is a huge asset to the team, not only as a brilliant engineer but also as a leader, and he has a good overview of what is happening in Formula 1 beyond the technical space,” said Wolff.
“He is a sparring partner of mine when it comes to strategic discussions, political discussions and he is getting more involved in the other departments and racing programmes that we have. That’s why it was almost a logical step to make him my, almost, technical twin brother.
“I am the head of Mercedes motorsport and it makes sense to have a technical director for all motorsport programmes. I am the CEO and he is the CTO. He enjoyed the idea, so we have worked on that for a year.
“On the other side Mike Elliott just about joined with me, he came from Renault as the head of aero there, and I had such a great relationship with him all these years and he is a hugely competent and intelligent engineer and someone who has been fundamental pillar in our success, which is why I am really happy he has become our technical director.
“Having said that, we have such a solid group that he is one of a group that will lead the team in the future.”
Allison’s move to CTO led some to believe that it was a step closer to fulfilling an ambition of running the team in the future, but Wolff said that isn’t Allison’s desire.
“If you look at things, he would be absolutely capable of being the team principal,” he said. “People have so much respect for him within the organisation. But the thing is very easy: he said he would never ever do this. The team principal requires different skills and he said 'no thank you, no'.”
He added: “James and I speak multiple times every day and we are totally coordinated on the direction of Mercedes Motorsport and Mercedes Grand Prix. So pretty much earlier than we decided the CTO role, it must have been a year or two ago, we discussed the future of the team principal role and he made it very clear that it was not for him.”