Mercedes’ James Allison has insisted it is a “pleasure to be back up to my neck in it” after returning as Technical Director. Allison had handed the reins over to Mike Elliott 20 months ago when moving into the wider-scoping Chief Technical Officer role, but after frank reflection within the team the decision was taken to swap the duo around to better reflect the strength of each individual. The switch comes after only three races of the new Formula 1 campaign, with Mercedes’ W14 showing signs of improvement at the Australian Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton secured a second-place finish. But the gulf in performance to Red Bull has left the Brackley-based outfit racing to add performance to the car in the hope of building on the solitary victory earned last season during a lacklustre campaign. When asked how involved in the current machinery he was as CTO, Allison told the F1 Nation podcast: “Well I was much less involved than I had been as a Technical Director. “I was more manoeuvring around the 2026 space than in the here and now of the current car. It certainly is a fair old chunk of effort to get up to speed with everything, not merely the regulations but the full engine of the factory and the race team and all the things that are currently in play in the championship fight, but it is exciting and fun and interesting and a pleasure to be back up to my neck in it.” Strengths and weaknesses Mercedes’ minor improvement since the opening round of the season has seen it rise from the fourth-fastest car in Bahrain – behind Red Bull, Aston Martin and Ferrari – to the third-quickest in Saudi Arabia and then the second-fastest in Melbourne. On where the strengths and weaknesses lie within the W14, Allison explained: “It is reliable, that’s a definite strength. “It has got a very quick pair of punters pedalling it around, it is better than most of the grid out there but until it is the quickest one, it will always feel like a weak car to all of us. “It is adequately kind to its tyres but not as good as some of the cars we have made in the past, it has 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 have been talking about it most weekends and it is a part of what this team needs to address to get winning material back in our hands.”

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