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What “gladiator” Allison’s reappointment reveals about Mercedes’ current F1 shortcomings



On Friday morning, Autosport revealed that Allison would return to his previous role with the team and his successor, Mike Elliott, would switch roles to become the team’s chief technical officer.

In several respects, this is entirely new territory for the modern Mercedes team, which finds itself in such dire straits compared to the F1 rulers that it has been deemed necessary to revise its technical staff. Make big changes, and it hasn’t been able to close the gap with rivals with an initial car design refresh program, such as it managed to do in 2021.

Just two weeks ago, team boss Toto Wolff publicly stated that Allison had not returned from a part-time CTO role to work directly on the Mercedes F1 car project. It also involves working with the Copa America team established by Mercedes co-owner INEOS.

At the same time, this reshuffle is very mercedes benz.

Wolf said the change was made at Elliott’s urging. Elliott felt that “with James, we have a gladiator on the battlefield, and the army will go through fire and water with him”. So far, there has been no official press release from Mercedes to indicate a change has been made, and it is understood that will remain the case, mitigating the impact on Elliott and his organization as a whole. But the team wants to break the news on its own terms and F1 editor Jonathan Noble gave Wolff an exclusive interview to discuss the development.

It’s both an attempt to preserve its much-touted culture of united teams and, apparently, to add fuel to the fire and revive its fortunes in F1.

What is not fully known is the extent to which Elliott’s decision is in response to the internal pressure Mercedes has been building up from the 2022 rule reset and return to running ground-effect cars.

Mercedes-AMG Technical Director Mike Elliott at a press conference

Mercedes-AMG Technical Director Mike Elliott at a press conference

Photography: FIA Pool

There is always the possibility that one of the leading teams arrives towards the end of 2021 and the new machines that end up rolling out lose their place. But while Mercedes fell sharply from the W13’s dolphin attack, Red Bull held on to the lead, roaring out once the RB18 and its downwash method were relieved.

The aerodynamic concept, which takes full advantage of the design of the key suspension and underfloor sections, which Red Bull has also identified, has proven to be the best option for the new era. Aston Martin, the team that took the lead and made a decisive switch to this path, jumped up the rankings.

By implementing a radically different evolution of its “zeropod” and inwash-sidepod cars in early 2023, Mercedes and Ferrari risk falling into their current positions.

This added to the pressure on top of the frustration, and actually ended up doubling it – as the massive concept changes that Mercedes publicly promised in Bahrain, but had been contemplating for some time beforehand, had to be successfully cancelled.

Ferrari has tripled that burden by apparently deciding not to commit to changing the concept until 2024…

Perhaps the most important word in the changes Mercedes has orchestrated with Allison and Elliott is Wolff’s statement that the change was “driven in large part by Mike Elliott.” . “Owned” showed Elliott reacting to the shortcomings of the Mercedes technical team under him, but Wolff’s subsequent reaction was again very mercedes benz.

In the traditional F1 sense, Elliott’s ax isn’t being swung the way Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto and McLaren’s James Key are. Instead, Wolff has kept Elliott with the company, and his role as full-time CTO reflects his value to the organization. Elliott will now address how best to deploy Mercedes’ technical resources from an overall organizational development perspective, while Allison will work directly on how to turn the W14 and W15 into winning packages.

There is also a secondary revelation in Wolff’s words, which shed light on how F1’s other massive rule shakeup – in financial matters – affected Mercedes’ previously super-successful design team.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Jack Grant / motorsport pictures

That’s why lead designer John Irwin “became a cost cap administrator” after 2021, with “a lot of additional work to follow” after 2021. Now, Owen is refocusing on vehicle design, with his deputy, Giacomo Tortora, as Director of Engineering and assisting the Cost Cap Resources department. It dates back to when Aldo Costa worked with Irving and Allison before leaving Dallara to take over the technical role in 2020.

As Mercedes’ technical division has undergone major changes between 2014 and 2021 into F1 – with other engineers moved into more senior management roles, perhaps most notably the departure of Allison’s predecessor Paddy Lowe Joined Williams as its technical director in 2017. However, the then Silver Arrows went on to win.

Things are very different now for Allison and Wolff. It’s no coincidence that Aston has hired former Red Bull aero chief Dan Fallows and, by the end of 2021, former Mercedes aero chief Eric Blanding as deputy technical directors. So rather than the top of the pyramid being replaced, the key internals, at least metaphorically, are weaker than when Allison was handed over as Mercedes technical director in early 2021.

So this puts the spotlight on this new development. Mercedes is shifting the onus on Allison for the pressure to get back to winning ways, but doing so precisely because of his value to the team.

It’s worth remembering that when Allison stepped down as technical director, he wanted to “walk up to my couch and cheer on the team from the sidelines as a punter” to avoid “being an old embarrassment.”

But instead, Wolff installed a part-time chief technical officer for him and kept him, a decision that appears to be paying off remarkably for now, as Mercedes tries to revive with a proven technical director. its fate. Meanwhile, a major role swap reflects Wolff’s pivotal moment at the helm of Mercedes – its second change of technical director – which ultimately didn’t work out.

But Wolff, via Elliott’s explanation of Allison’s “gladiator” status, reflects that Mercedes sees the appointment of a third technical director as a well-received internal shake-up.

A popular and respected figure among Mercedes employees, Allison’s affable and nuanced personality resonated with Mercedes fans. Allison’s bringing it back to F1 also restored Mercedes’ loss in that regard, as he lost the very good and well-rounded James Wallace to Williams.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes-AMG Team Principal and CEO

Toto Wolff, Mercedes-AMG Team Principal and CEO

Photograph: Sam Bloxham / motorsport pictures

Allison also has a pretty decent F1 record. During his time at Michael Schumacher/Ross Brawn he was head of aerodynamics at Benetton before following the superteam to Ferrari and was an integral part of its recent domination of F1 until 2005.

That year he joined Renault as deputy technical director and won two doubles with Fernando Alonso.

So when Allison rejoined Ferrari in 2013, the Spaniard was delighted – first as chassis technical director, then overall technical director – with his stock and popularity thanks to the cars designed under his tutelage at the time. The Lotus machine rose to win over Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull Romain Grosjean that troubled Sebastian Vettel.

A second stint at Ferrari didn’t work out, with Allison doing far less hands-on design on those red cars and having to grievely deal with the death of his wife shortly before leaving the Ferrari team in 2016 to support his family .

F1 came as a bit of a surprise when initial expectations that he might end up rejoining the company known as Renault again turned out to be his first move to Mercedes in 2017 as technical director.

His work on improving Mercedes’ chassis design, which in the early days of the turbo-hybrid era had been considered generally weak compared to Red Bull’s, has been greatly improved by the team’s engine output, as the powerplant shares stability, he becomes more and more important. Ferrari (controversial) and Honda (surprisingly) eventually overhauled Mercedes in this regard, but it went on to win in an era of ultra-high downforce.

Allison didn’t lead the technical department that produced the W08 during the initial design period early in that era, but by the time the 2020 regulation period was spiritually over, his team had built the W11 with DAS innovations, a package that revived the Mercedes Huge profit advantage in 2014-2016.

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes-AMG

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes-AMG

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

That car would certainly become F1 legend, but was very impressive to produce in an era of stable rules and, of course, disappeared from competition due to Ferrari’s “settlement” with the FIA’s engine design in early 2020 also contributed to its development.

But just because Mercedes’ return to the leadership of the technical division has taken it to previously unattained heights of success in F1, and the last of its eight consecutive titles in the constructors’ championship, doesn’t mean it will. Instantly win again.

In fact, Allison had to inspire the now-altered technical structure before leading it from Red Bull’s current overwhelming dominance onto a concept path fully laid out by the Mercedes rival.

But in the era of new F1 design rules, convergence is always possible. It was unexpected that Mercedes’ team culture and the decision surrounding Alisson’s succession as technical director were so tested at the team, producing two bad cars in a row. So the kind of response that is happening today couldn’t have been foreseen until it had to be considered.

But for Mercedes and Wolff, the imminent outcome of this unexpected challenge will be the story of how the modern F1 superteam develops across the board. Mercedes has either peaked or can no longer climb to such a high level, despite steps to correct the decline. Or, its current dire woes are just blips between winning chapters.


Vandoorne to drive Aston Martin F1 car in Pirelli tyre test at Spa




Aston reserve driver Vandoorne will share driving duties with team principal Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will each drive a day for McLaren.

It will be the Belgian’s first time driving an active F1 car on track since December 2020 when he represented Mercedes in Abu Dhabi testing.

While the Spa test will focus on Pirelli’s no-carpet tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to sample the 2023 car, helping him correlate with Aston Martin’s simulator work.

If either Stroll or Fernando Alonso were unwell at any point for the rest of the season, his life would also be made easier.

The 31-year-old shared the Aston substitute with defending Formula Two champion Felipe Drugovich, and the two took turns on call.

Dubovic drove the AMR23 for two days during the Bahrain test in February, when Stroll was not present, and he had the opportunity to test drive the AMR23. Since then, the Brazilian has continued to rack up more miles in private testing of the 2021 car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

As well as his role at Aston, Vandoorne is one of McLaren’s backup drivers and his performance at Spa will also make it easier for him to step into the MCL60 should the need arise.

As well as giving him a general feel for downforce levels for 2023, the two cars share the Mercedes powerplant and thus have similar settings on their respective steering wheels.

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Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston team-mate Alonso.

He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. He finished 16th at the World Championships in both seasons, with a best finish of seventh.

He was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, but has since rebuilt his career in Formula E, winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes and serving as an F1 substitute.

He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a substitute for the Peugeot WEC team.

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McLaren “true contenders” for F1 best of the rest tag




McLaren has only scored one point after three rounds in 2023 as it struggles to find the car competitive.

But both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have seen plenty of upgrades in recent races, allowing the former to finish second in a row, while Piastri has finished in the top five in each of his past two races.

Despite being 136 points behind second-placed Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, Russell believes McLaren is a real threat for the remainder of the race behind leaders Red Bull.

“Obviously they’re a real contender for second fastest team,” Russell said of Woking.

“Oddly enough, Aston Martin was clearly second at the start of the year.

“And they don’t seem to be that competitive now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. McLaren has made huge progress.

“So without McLaren we’d be very, very happy with the progress we’ve made. Leading the midfield, widening the gap and closing in on Red Bull.

“McLaren has just fully embraced it. But that makes you optimistic that bigger strides are possible.

“I believe in my team. I think it gives us the confidence and optimism to take this step towards Red Bull.

“We’re not too focused on McLaren, Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. We’re trying to make that big step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

Russell fought his way back from 18th on the grid at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, jumping to sixth at the checkered flag after Mercedes strategists told him 11th was his favorite.

Russell was pleased with the final result, but felt it was “proof” of a “missed opportunity” for Hungary.

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“The strategy tells me that if we maximize everything, the P11 is the most realistic, the P7 is the most realistic,” Russell told Autosport.

“Sixth place without a safety car, without a VSC, it’s a really great result.

“But it also proved that this weekend could be a missed opportunity. I believe I could have gone there with Lewis yesterday, it’s one of my favorite circuits and the car always does well here.

“When you have two cars out there, fighting for second gives you more options, and Lewis is also very strong. If things turned out a little differently, he would also be P2.

“So as a missed opportunity we will learn from it. But the positive side is we are leading Aston and Ferrari.”

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Top speed, car sizes, race weekends and more compared




Formula 1 has relied on junior classes to develop the next generation of drivers, and its teams are eager to snag their brightest talent.

The ‘old’ Formula 2 car was a ruleset rather than its own separate entity, sometimes sharing the grid with F1, and later rule changes made the two cars separate championships.

The second class was renamed the F3000 in 1985 as the series switched to a naturally aspirated engine formula and extended the life of the earlier Cosworth DFV lineage. Throughout the life of the F3000, different engine and chassis suppliers came and went, with companies including Reynard, Lola, Ralt and March among them, all producing cars before the championship became a single specification.

When the F3000 championship began to fade due to declining team interest and declining track quality, the second level of racing was reborn in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone tried to bring the junior championship to F1’s bottom line and, along with Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, helped build the GP2 series.

GP2 became the FIA ​​Formula Two Championship in 2017, but many key hallmarks of GP2’s early series have stood the test of time. The GP3 series, a third-tier category designed to compete with the myriad Formula 3 championships around it, was added to the F1 Act in 2010 and became FIA ​​Formula 3 in 2019.

There are major differences in the way F2 is run compared to F1, there are subtle changes in form and there are big differences in the overall performance of the cars. The following are the key areas of comparison between F1 and F2.

F1 vs. F2 – key differences


Formula 1

Formula Two

top speed

220+ mph

208 mph

Minimum weight including driver

798 kg

788 kg




engine size

1.6 liter V6

3.4 liter V6

Approximate Power

1,000 horsepower

620 hp

car size

5.63m x 2m x 0.95m

5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m

tire size

18 inches

18 inches

game every weekend

One (two for sprint weekends)

Two (one sprint, one feature)

game length

305 km/190 miles

Sprint – 120 km/74.5 miles

Features – 170 km/105.6 miles






twenty two

2023 Pole Times – Red Bull Ring

1 point 04.391

1 meter 14,643

2023 Pole Times – Monaco

1 meter 11.365

1 meter 21.053

2023 Pole Times – Silverstone

1 meter 26.720

1 meter 39,832

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

What is the difference between F1 and F2 racing?

In F1, each team designs its own chassis according to a set of well-defined technical regulations laid down by the FIA. For the 2022 ruleset, the FIA ​​has updated the wording of the rules to better define the bounding box within which bodies can be developed and build a system more in line with the proliferation of available CAD products.

It features a range of safety systems such as a roll cage, halo and anti-intrusion panels mounted around the monocoque. There are also anti-collision structures on the side, front and rear of the car to minimize the impact on the driver in the car.

F2 is a single-spec series with all teams using the Dallara F2 2018 model. The car and driver must weigh a minimum of 788kg and feature F1 standard safety features such as the aforementioned crash structures and halos. Use only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland or sold by F2 promoters.

F2 cars use floor venturi tunnels, which F1 adopts in 2022, 40 years after banning ground-effect aerodynamics. These designs aren’t as extreme as those in F1, but they work on the same principle, and the car is also enhanced with front and rear wings to create downforce. Like F1, F2 cars are fitted with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates on the same parameters as its parent series.

While F1 cars typically reach speeds in excess of 220 mph during a race, with DRS switched on, an F2 car could theoretically hit 208 mph at full low downforce.

What is the difference between F1 and F2 tires?

Pirelli supplies all championships on the official F1 ladder, and F2 and F3 also use the Italian company’s rubber.

F2 started using 18-inch tires in 2020, two years before entering F1. F2 tires are slightly narrower than F1 tires and generally have less grip because of the naturally lower speeds of the junior series cars.

There are four dry-weather tire compounds for the F2: hard, medium, soft and supersoft – with the first three using the same white, yellow and red color coding as the F1. Extra soft textures are indicated by purple text on the side walls. Each car is supplied with five sets of dry weather tires per wheel, consisting of two of the prescribed compounds, with a set of “premium” tires to be returned after practice. Three sets of wet tires are also available – the F2 has no intermediate compound.

Tire blankets are banned in F2, meaning drivers must warm up their tires naturally. This often creates a larger offset during the pit stops, with drivers leaving the pits vulnerable to those who have already completed laps in the new group.

The “primary” and “option” compounds (harder tires are the main tires and softer tires are the options) must be used during featured races, and pit stops are required to replace them. Tire parking is allowed during a sprint, but not mandatory. Since only two dry compounds are used each weekend, Pirelli and F2 decide which tire to use before the weekend. There may be a single step in the compound (for example, medium and soft), or there may be a larger step for greater excursions (for example, medium and extra soft).

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

Photography: Sutton Images

What is the difference between F1 and F2 powertrains?

F1 has used a turbo-hybrid system since 2014, with a turbocharger and a motor-generator set on the rear axle to form a hybrid package. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter V6. By 2022, F1 engines run on E10 fuel, where 10% of the fuel composition consists of combustibles of biosourced origin.

The MGU-K in an F1 car can produce up to 160bhp for a total power output of around 1000bhp. Figures for F1’s current four powertrain manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Red Bull Powertrain) vary but are all believed to have efficiencies in excess of 50%.

F2’s single-spec powertrain is produced by French manufacturer Mecachrome, which briefly participated in F1 in 1998 and 1999, and took over Renault’s engine program. The Mecachrome unit was a 3.4-litre V6 engine, virtually the same one used in the F3, but with a modified turbocharger from Van der Lee. It produces around 620bhp and is driven by a six-speed Hewland gearbox.

To ensure fairness in powertrain supply, Mecachrome units are randomly assigned to teams, as there may be minor differences in overall power output.

F2 is currently being used as a test bed to assist F1 in developing more sustainable fuel, using Aramco-produced fuel with 55% of its content from sustainable bio-sources, with the aim of increasing this figure to 100% by 2026/27. The Saudi oil brand replaced longtime supplier Elf as the sole producer of the F2 fuel.

How much does F1 cost compared to F2?

In recent years, Formula 1 has been constrained by a cost cap of about $135 million through 2023, with some minor adjustments for inflation and other ancillary costs. The cost cap covers most development and operating costs, but excludes driver salaries, salaries of the team’s three highest-paid employees, travel costs and marketing expenses. As Red Bull found out in 2022, violating this cap carries a range of penalties depending on the extent of the overrun.

The bulk of this budget comes from the FIA’s prize money, investment and sponsorship mix. Some teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, are self-sufficient in terms of bonuses and sponsors and do not require direct input from their ownership structures.

F2 teams have much smaller budgets, and with the series’ fairly limited reach, teams will rarely start the season with a full sponsor portfolio ready to fund every race. As such, drivers should pay for their rides through their own sponsors or a driver academy.

Depending on the team, the budget of an F2 driver can vary from 2 million to 3 million euros, and can even exceed this budget to get a seat in a better team. To keep costs down, F2 limited the number of employees working on each car on race weekends and designed the cars to be relatively cheap. A team can buy a complete F2 car, without the engine, for around 500,000 euros.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

How do drivers get from F2 to F1?

To compete in F2, drivers must hold an A or B international FIA license. They cannot conduct private tests on F2 machines, only the group tests offered by the series. There are also restrictions on the single-seater cars that drivers can test in private, and if a driver is double-duty in another category, they must commit to racing in F2 in the event of any conflict.

Depending on a driver’s final standing at the end of the F2 season, they may receive Superlicense points to help qualify for F1. To obtain a super license to compete in F1, a driver needs to earn 40 points.

The distribution of Super License points is:

end of season position

SL points

first place


second place


third place


fourth place


the fifth place


sixth place


Number 7


number 8




No. 10


These can be applied cumulatively over the course of three seasons.

F1 VS F2 weekend format

F1 has been running in the same basic format for years, with FP1 and FP2 taking place on Fridays, each one hour long. FP3 races are also one hour long and take place on the Saturday before the three-stage qualifying format in place since 2006. F1 races must be at least 305 kilometers in length (excluding Monaco) and must not exceed two hours in duration, with a three-hour window if any red flags are raised.

However, sprint weekends are different and that changes for 2023. The only practice session kicked off with Friday’s race, followed by qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Sprint qualifying and the race are both held on Saturdays, with 2023 seeing six sprint weekends for added variety.

F2 has a practice session lasting 45 minutes on Friday, with a half-hour qualifying session later in the day. It’s effectively a time trial and drivers just need to maintain the fastest lap at the end of the race to secure pole for Sunday’s race.

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint race takes place on Saturday, using the same grid as qualifying, but with the top ten swapped. The number of laps “equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 120 km (100 km in Monaco)”, according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the score is finally dropped to eighth place, and the fastest lap points are awarded to the top 10 competitors.

The F2 weekend’s featured race “should be equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 170km (140km in Monaco, 160km in Budapest)”. It features mandatory pit stops where drivers must use both primary and optional compounds during the race. If a driver pits before completing the sixth lap, the mandatory stop does not count. This information is also not recorded if a driver stops under the Virtual Safety Car unless they are already in the pits when the VSC is triggered.

F2 attempted three weekend races in 2021, but the practice was generally unpopular and canceled for 2022 due to gaps left on the calendar. Prior to this, the main race was held on Saturday, and the starting position of the sprint race was determined by the results and the reversal of the top eight.

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