Mercedes technical director James Allison is still unsure about the potential of Mercedes’ troubled 2023 F1 car.
Following a difficult start to the 2023 season where Mercedes lost further ground to rivals Red Bull, Allison swapped jobs with his successor Mike Elliott during Formula 1’s three-week spring break.
It means Allison is back in the paddock for the first time and already looking at erasing Mercedes’ gremlins which have plagued the W14 since pre-season testing.
“If you go off Melbourne, we were the second quickest car, but if you look at Bahrain, we were fourth quickest,” Allison told the press ahead of the 2023 Azerbaijan GP.
“I think we’re on an improving trend, but the tracks are quite different in the opening phase of the year, and it’s a little too early to tell.
“What I do know is that they’re all manner of opportunities to improve the car, and we intend to do that.”
Happy to be back in the paddock
After spending two seasons lending his focus to projects outside of F1, such as INEOS’s America’s Cup challenger Britannia, Allison returns to the Baku paddock after a long hiatus.
The Brit also explained why he and Elliot switched roles, believing that it was best for the team to swap back to their pre-2021 jobs.
“Just being back at the race track is a lot of fun, I haven’t been here for ages, and it is a place which is always fun to be at, said Allison.
“It was fun getting on a plane to come out here.
“You see a whole heap of faces you haven’t seen for ages in all different teams, and that’s a pleasure as well cause there is a family feeling to being in the paddock.
“Between the pair of us, we reckoned we could cover the ground better with him doing my old role and me doing his old role.
“We’ve both got certain skills and after a couple of years of trying it that way round, I think a sober reflection of what we’re both good at meant it would be a little bit more powerful swapping around.”
Fan of the new sprint format
Baku sees the arrival of a new sprint format with practice reduced from two sessions to one, whilst Friday qualifying sets the grid for Sunday’s race.
Saturday is instead dedicated to the sprint, with a morning qualifying session dedicated to the Sprint, which takes place on Saturday afternoon with eight points going to the winner.
“I like that free practice is ace because you get to learn about the car, ” explained Allison. “All of us like the adrenaline of the qualifying and the races more than practices.
“Although it feels loaded with fear and jeopardy, the fact you get into the paying end of the weekend much quicker by having four scary sessions instead of two is fun.”