Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team evolves technical leadership for future success
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team today announced the next step in the evolution of its technical leadership structure for the years ahead.
Effective 1 July 2021, James Allison will begin a newly created role entitled Chief Technical Officer (CTO). In this role, James will step back from the day-to-day management of the F1 technical operations which he has led since early 2017 and will turn his energy instead to help the team meet the strategic challenges of the sport’s next era. As the CTO, James will continue to work closely with the technical leadership at both Brackley and Brixworth to help ensure that the team always has the right capability to meet its needs.
At the same time, Mike Elliott will be promoted to the role of Technical Director of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. After beginning his career at McLaren in 2000, and a subsequent stint at the Renault F1 Team, Mike joined Mercedes in 2012 as Head of Aerodynamics and was central to developing the sport’s leading aerodynamics group in the subsequent years. Since 2017, he has been the team’s Technology Director and has played a key role in developing the team’s performance capability as part of our senior technical leadership.
The transition to the new organisation will take place across the coming months as we continue the 2021 championship battle on track and prepare for the significant challenge of the 2022 technical and sporting regulations in our development programmes back at base.
Toto Wolff: “Since joining Mercedes in 2017, James has been an exceptional technical leader for our team, and he has made an enormous contribution to our performance: he combines huge passion and determination with detailed expertise and exceptional moral character. We have known for a while that his time as Technical Director would be coming to an end this year and I am delighted that we have been able to shape this new role to keep him within our motorsport family; he will be an important sparring partner for me in the next years and I know that we still have much to achieve together. We often say that the organisation is a dynamic organism, and that we need to adapt continuously if we want to truly thrive. Effective succession planning has been a strength of our team, so I am delighted to announce Mike in his new role as Technical Director. We first met at the beginning of 2013 when I joined the team and have spent many hours talking about the team and its evolution since then. Mike has developed from our Head of Aerodynamics to now being ready to take the step up to become Technical Director. Together with an exceptional group of senior technical leaders, this puts us in the best possible position for the sport’s next era.”
James Allison: “I firmly believe that people have a shelf life in senior roles in this sport, and I have chosen to step away from my role as Technical Director in order to pass on the baton at the right time for the organisation and myself. I have enjoyed four and a half wonderful years as Technical Director, and it has been a special privilege to lead the technical effort of the team in that time. It is a great pleasure to be succeeded by Mike, an exceptional engineer in a tremendously strong group of senior leaders in the team. We will benefit from the freshness that he will bring to the role – and I hope I can continue to make a useful contribution across a new sphere of activity in my role as CTO, with a focus on increasing our capability across the board and supporting Toto with the major strategic challenges we face in the near future.”
Mike Elliott: “It has been a great pleasure and privilege to work for James earlier in my career at Renault, and for the past four years at Mercedes. His track record in the sport speaks for itself, and he has been a fantastic team-mate and leader for me during that time. They are big shoes to fill and I am delighted that we will be able to call on his expertise in his new role as CTO. On a personal level, it is an amazing opportunity to become Technical Director of a team like Mercedes, and I must thank Toto and our company for trusting me to make the step up to this new role. It is an incredible privilege to be part of this team and I know that the leadership strength at every level through the company will be vital to our future success. I can’t wait to get started and to tackle the many exciting technical challenges ahead of us in the next months and years.”
James Allison, Chief Technical Officer
Date of Birth: 21 February 1968
Place of Birth: Louth, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
2021 Chief Technical Officer, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
2017 Technical Director, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
2013 Technical Director, Scuderia Ferrari
2009 Technical Director, Renault F1 Team
2005 Deputy Technical Director, Renault F1 Team
1999 Trackside Aerodynamicist, Scuderia Ferrari
1997 Head of Aerodynamics, Benetton F1
1996 Head of Aerodynamic Design, Benetton F1
1994 Aerodynamic Designer, Benetton F1
1992 Head of Aerodynamics, Larrousse UK
1991 Junior Aerodynamic Engineer, Benetton F1
Effective 1 July 2021, James Allison will begin his new role as Chief Technical Officer of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Why did James want to work in Formula One? “It was a great alternative to growing up and getting a proper job.” With that answer, it seems inevitable that James would end up in motorsport.
His motorsport career started in 1991, when he joined the Benetton F1 Team as a Junior Aerodynamic Designer immediately after graduating from the University of Cambridge.
Just two years later, James was appointed Head of Aerodynamics for the small Larrousse F1 squad. Sadly, the cash-strapped team struggled for results and James returned to Benetton as an Aerodynamic Designer.
Success soon followed, as James celebrated Michael Schumacher’s Drivers’ Championship success in 1994, with Schumacher and Benetton claiming the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles the following year.
James was promoted to Head of Aerodynamics in 1997 and, just two years later, swapped Enstone for Maranello and the new position of Trackside Aerodynamicist with Scuderia Ferrari, playing an important role in a period of unprecedented success, as the team won six Constructors’ Championships between 1999 and 2004.
After six years in Italy, James returned to the United Kingdom and a familiar home at Enstone, now under the Renault name, taking on the role of Deputy Technical Director. With young Spaniard Fernando Alonso at the wheel, Renault were the team to beat – taking top honours in the Constructors’ Championship in 2005 and 2006.
James was promoted to Technical Director in 2009 and remained with the team as it transitioned to Lotus Renault and later Lotus F1 Team, fighting back to the top step of the podium in 2012 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Kimi Räikkönen scoring the team’s first win in four years.
In 2013, James headed back to Ferrari, this time as Technical Director. After a fruitless year for the team in 2014, James’ influence was crucial as Sebastian Vettel claimed three wins the following year, when the Scuderia emerged as the closest challenger to the title-winning Mercedes team.
James departed Ferrari midway through the 2016 season and returned to the Formula One grid in 2017 as Technical Director of the Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team.
When asked what he loves about Formula One, here’s James’ full, non-abridged answer: “I love the fight. I love that it is grindingly, desperately difficult because that is what makes any success so meaningful. I love that nothing about it is vanilla; technology, skill, cunning, personality, humour – everything is extreme. But above all, I love the sense of shared purpose and belonging that comes from being in an F1 Team. It is not a mere job, it is a brilliant, exciting, challenging and deeply fulfilling way of life. All of us who have experienced it are deeply fortunate.”
Mike Elliott, Technical Director
Date of birth: 4 June 1974
Place of birth: St Austell, UK
2021 Technical Director, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
2017 Technology Director, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
2012 Head of Aerodynamics, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
2008 Principal Aerodynamicist, Renault F1 Team
2006 Team Leader, Aerodynamic Performance, McLaren F1 Team
2003 Trackside Aerodynamicist, McLaren F1 Team
2000 Aerodynamicist, McLaren F1 Team
Effective 1 July 2021, Mike Elliott will be promoted to the role of Technical Director of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. After achieving a Master of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering followed by a PhD in Aerodynamics from Imperial College London, Mike embarked upon what would quickly become a steep rise through the ranks of Formula One aerodynamicists – achieving significant success along the way.
But, why did he want to work on F1? It’s a rather interesting story… “The guy I shared an office with during my PhD convinced me it would be an interesting career to pursue,” he explains. “Ironically, he is our Chief Designer now and we sit two desks apart!”
While primarily focused on aerodynamics, Mike has also spent three years on the race team and two years working on the effect of aerodynamics on vehicle handling, giving him a rounded understanding of car performance.
20 years into a Grand Prix career which has spanned three front running-teams (McLaren, Renault and Mercedes), Mike has thus far achieved seven Constructors’ Championship titles and a further eight top-three finishes.
When asked what his favourite memory with Mercedes has been so far, he replied: “Collecting the Constructors’ trophy on behalf of the team. It is a humbling and emotional experience to collect a prize that so many people have sweated blood and tears to achieve.”