Allison: Red Bull a 'worthy opposition to hunt down and overtake'

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Mercedes technical director James Allison says he is focused in priority on improving the team's W14 rather than fixated on beating a specific rival.

But in due course, Red Bull will become "a worthy opposition to hunt down and overtake".

Allison has returned to the front line at Mercedes after swapping positions with Mike Elliott who has assumed his colleague's previous role of chief technology officer, a move that will allow both men to better use their natural abilities and specific skills for the benefit of Mercedes' recovery.

"We think that the overall fighting strength of this team is maximised by this role swap," Allison explained on the latest F1 Nation podcast.

"We just had a bit of a an examining of our own navels here in Brackley, and between Mike and I, we concluded that the pair of us can cover the ground reasonably well but that perhaps I was better suited to the short-term fighting on the championship with the car, and he was the much better chess player of the pair of us and he would be better suited to doing the job I was doing as a CTO previously.

"So we jiggled it about and came up with something that we think is a better fighting machine overall."

Forever the racer, Allison admitted that "it’s exciting and fun and interesting and a pleasure to be back up to my neck in it."

While progress has been made this season by Mercedes, especially in terms of fielding a more predictable and stable car rather than a wild bouncing bronco like last year's recalcitrant silver error, the Brackley squad is no match for Red Bull's dominant RB19.

And it also must contend with rivals Ferrari and Aston Martin for the current runner-up spot behind the bulls.

A comprehensive upgrade programme destined to boost its W14 is in the works and will soon begin to unfold. But Allison ensures that in relative terms and in its current state, Mercedes' contender isn't a bad car.

"It’s reliable, touch wood, that’s a definite strength," he said. "It’s got a very quick pair of punters pedalling it around.

"It’s better than most of the grid out there. But until it’s the quickest one it will always feel like a weak car to all of us.

"It’s adequately kind to its tyres but not as good as some of the cars that we’ve made in the past.

"It’s got more downforce than most of the cars on the grid but not sufficient.

"Its handling characteristics leave a little to be desired, and need to be worked on for sure.

"But none of this stuff is revelatory. We’ve been talking about it most weekends and it’s part of what this team needs to address to get winning material back in our hands."


When asked which teams he sees Mercedes fighting with this season, Allison insists his immediate focus is on improving Mercedes' W14 in absolute terms. But eventually, it will put arch-rival Red Bull in its line of sight.

"I’m trying not to think really in those terms. Just concentrating on what are the areas of opportunity on the car," he says.

"How quickly can we fill those opportunities with hardware or different approaches, with the expectation that that will improve our chances at any given weekend?

"The sooner we can do that, and on the steepest slope possible, the better our chances will be in any given weekend and up against any given team and in the championship.

"But we’re completely realistic about the significant performance of the Red Bull and particularly Max.

"They’re going to be extremely worthy opposition to hunt down and in due course overtake."

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