New F1 rules are a ‘big favour’ to Mercedes – Allison

Mercedes technical director James Allison says that F1’s regulation overhaul in 2022, while it may stem the championship winning squad’s dominance, will also provide its troops with a fresh impetus.

The advent of the hybrid era in Formula 1 in 2014 ushered in an unprecedented period of supremacy in the sport, marked by a record seven consecutive world titles for the Mercedes team and its drivers, with Lewis Hamilton owning six championships and Nico Rosberg collecting one in 2016.

There’s no denying the outstanding engineering excellence displayed by Mercedes, year in and year out, with no signs of the German outfit letting up as its crews check their sense of security at the team’s door.

Allison, the prominent mastermind who leads Mercedes’ tech department, says that F1’s future rulebook feels like it is specifically aimed at killing off the manufacturer’s domination. But the Briton says the upcoming changes will be first and foremost a source of renewed motivation.

“You have unintended consequences with many things and if you are sitting, as we are, happily at the top of the pyramid right now — but not in any way feeling like you are securely placed there and that you’ve got to keep scrabbling your way back up to that apex position — then a lot of those changes do look like they are targeted at us,” Allison told ESPN’s Laurence Edmondson.

“They’re not — they don’t have Mercedes written on them — they have at their heart the idea that they don’t want a pyramid, they want a continuous churn of teams that are capable of winning one day and not winning the next, and for each weekend to be unpredictable.

“But if you are in the position we are currently in, then it doesn’t feel that way, it feels like this is a set of rules that are designed to try to make sure a team like us can’t exist in the future,” he added.

“The potential unintended consequence of that is that if you are seven years into a winning streak and finding it difficult to come up with fresh rhetoric that gets people stirred up for the challenge of an eighth or a ninth, then in many ways the sport does you quite a big favour by coming up with a set of rules that are aimed squarely at your heart.

“There is nothing more motivating for this group of people than to set to this new challenge and go, ‘We’ll show you! We’ll show you that we will not go quietly into the night!’

“That’s the thrill for us now, to take this regulatory challenge and, as we have done with previous ones, try to show afresh what we are made of and that we are a team that just wants to try to do the best it possibly can.

“With luck, that best is good enough to be at the front.”

©Mercedes

Allison insists that Mercedes isn’t immune to a decline similar to the downturns experienced by several of its rivals over the years.

But a rigorous management of the outfit’s human resources, whereby any signs of wear and tear among its troops are swiftly dealt with, ensure its form remains unaffected as much as possible.

“We have at least been very aware that those are the risks,” Allison said. “Because the cycle of success and subsequent decline all of us have seen happen a few times and many of us have actually lived through it in other teams.

“So a big amount of effort is put into trying to nurture the sense of team spirit we have here, making sure we have some sort of succession plan for the key roles in the team for when people are spent, because it is a sport that uses you up gradually because you have only got a certain amount of vim and vigour to keep at this level of intensity.

    Read also: Wolff says three-year commitment to Mercedes is ‘misunderstanding’

“And when people have given their all, enjoyed every drop of it but are ready to hand the torch on, it’s important to make sure there is someone to hand that torch to and that the company can exchange from one to the other seamlessly without it causing a loss of form.

“There have been a number of exchanges like that that we have been able to manage and show a resilient team structure.

“That’s the things we have tried to do, but it would be completely ludicrous for me to say ‘and therefore we have the winning formula’, because it’s completely against the first thing I said, which is the complacency that all of us feel and need to remind ourselves that it is simply not a given.

“We need to keep earning it and, hopefully, if we enjoy it sufficiently and we recognise that we do it for the enjoyment every bit as much as we do it for the winning, then with a bit of luck the sheer pleasure of the enjoyment of doing a good job here has the consequence that you produce a thing good enough to win with and then you enjoy the winning as well.”

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