James Allison has hit back at the notion that a cockpit position tweak could be the key to Lewis Hamilton’s return to winning form.
There is no doubt that the latest major upgrade to Mercedes’ 2022 and 2023 ‘no sidepods’ car concept has finally put the team on the right track to chasing down Red Bull’s dominance.
But Allison, who returned to the top technical role at the Brackley-based team recently, says it’s about much more than the sudden emergence of Red Bull-like sidepods.
“Absolutely not,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “Anything we changed on the car could have been done with the old sidepods.
“Our old sidepods were no more the reason for our problems than the geometry of the sidepods explaining Red Bull’s success,” he told the German magazine.
Seven time world champion Hamilton, however, said recently that he’s “100 percent” determined that Mercedes must tweak the cockpit positioning for 2024, because he is seated too closely to the front wheels.
“Lewis doesn’t like the handling of the car,” Allison admits. “And he sits in a different position compared to before.
“But I’m not sure one is related to the other. I’ve had a few conversations with Lewis about it. And I don’t think the seating position is a big factor in the issues he’s feeling with the car.
“What he’s right about is his criticism of the handling of the car. It’s our job to fix that because that’s laptime.
“But if we change the seating position, it’s for many other reasons and not because we think that alone will solve all of Lewis’ problems.”
Allison also rejects the idea that the key to Red Bull’s success is the highly complex floor, with many observing that the dominant 2023 car produces more sparks on the straights compared to any other team.
“We mostly saw that early in the season where they bottomed on the straights much earlier than other cars at certain tracks,” he said. “But at the moment, we are no longer seeing that.”
Therefore, Allison thinks it’s incremental change that will ultimately enable Mercedes to catch up with Red Bull.
“I keep saying it internally as well, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen this season as long as we’re able to keep improving our car,” he said.
“The challenge is to do that and at the same time build up enough knowledge so that we can do it from the start of next season too.”