James Allison: His involvement equals winning championships

28-01-2020 14:26
by Matt Gretton
F1 News
James Allison: His involvement equals winning championships

When you think about Formula 1, you think about the teams and the drivers. Those two are the most important factors behind the sport. But, there are many names within the teams that are hidden. Except of course the team bosses and other influential people, but the vast majority of the employees are completely unknown to the outside world. Between unknown and known is another intermediate step and someone who more or less falls into that category is James Allison.

Decent career

James Allison was born on 22 February 1968 and has been active in the top class of motorsport since 1991. Through the years he has worked in several (legendary) teams and he has been involved in the F1 circus almost continuously. Nowadays he works for Mercedes-AMG as technical director, but what did he do in the past?

After graduating from Cambridge in 1991 he joined the aerodynamics department of the Benetton Formula 1 team. Here he only worked for a few years, because two years later he switched to the small Larrousse Formula 1 team, where he started work as head of the aerodynamics department. It didn't take long there, because due to financial problems with the team, Allison quickly moved back to Benetton as a designer.

That brought him more success because in 1994 Benetton became champion together with Michael Schumacher. The team managed to win both the championship and the constructors' title and that was partly thanks to Allison. A year later the same trick was repeated by Benetton with another two titles. His talent didn't go unnoticed, so in 1997 he was promoted to the position of head of aerodynamics. 

Ferrari heydays

Schumacher had already switched to Ferrari in 1996 and in 1999 Allison went after the German by drawing in Maranello. Here he fulfilled the role of 'Trackside Aerodynamicist' where he contributed to the success of the Italian race stables that won the world title after world title with Schumacher. 

In terms of constructors' championships, Allison was even more successful in combination with Ferrari, because from 1999 to 2004 that championship was won every year. Five drivers' championships and six constructors' titles over a period of six years. 


After the successful years at Ferrari, Allison switched to Renault in 2005, the team formed on the basis of Benetton. Here he stepped into the role of deputy technical director with once again the prospect of great success, as Fernando Alonso caused a storm in the French car. In both 2005 and 2006 the doubles were won by Renault, which gradually paints the picture that Allison equals success or making the right choices at the right time by changing teams.

Afterwards, however, the successes declined somewhat, he stayed with the team where he was promoted to technical director in 2009 and he was stuck when it was taken over. Under the flag of Lotus F1 Team, he stayed with the team until 2013, after which he switched to Ferrari in 2013 to take on the role of technical director. The year wasn't particularly successful as Mercedes started to gain momentum. 

To Mercedes

Allison stayed at Ferrari until mid-2016, after which he joined Mercedes in 2017, also as technical director. This was after Paddy Lowe left the team to join Williams. Mercedes was of course very successful at that time and even after he joined the team, the German car brand kept bringing the titles. To date Allison is still active at Mercedes, which has a good chance to win the two titles again this year.

It is clear that Allison has quite some impressive statistics on his resume. Formula 1 is a team sport, it is also clear that Allison's contribution behind the scenes is very important for the successes of a team. After all, in the past thirty years, Allison has been involved in an extraordinary number of driver and constructor championships.

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