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Mercedes' Allison on 'dizzying challenge' of going from F1 to sailing

James Allison, Chief Technical Officer at Mercedes, is now using his many years of experience in Formula 1 to support INEOS Britannia’s 37th America’s Cup Challenge in the world of sailing.

Mercedes' Chief Technical Officer, James Allison, has been explaining the new challenge he faces as he applies his many years of expertise to sailing.

Allison is taking on the additional role of Chief Technical Officer at INEOS Britannia’s 37th America's Cup Challenge, which he will hold alongside his position at the Silver Arrows, and the design operation is set to run from the Mercedes factory.

The Mercedes Applied Science department were involved in the team's previous America's Cup campaign, and Allison is relishing the prospect of this upcoming project.

"We had a small involvement in the team’s 36th America’s Cup campaign which whetted our appetite," he explained in INEOS Britannia's Moving Parts series.

"It was immediately clear to us that the America’s Cup is a very exciting, and very difficult, challenge. Now we are one team, INEOS Britannia, with the team’s design base embedded in our Formula 1 HQ, and the clear goal to bring the America's Cup back to Britain.

"We feel very lucky to be involved in this opportunity and we can't wait for the challenge ahead, it's a mouth-watering prospect."

Differences between America's Cup and F1

Allison has been working in Formula 1 for 30 years, and before joining Mercedes held roles at teams including Renault and Ferrari.

Whilst he has many years of experience in his role, he admits that entering the America's Cup has been a "dizzying challenge", given the differences involved between the two sports.

"What is quite different coming into this world from F1 is quite how much of the design space is broad and unexplored," Allison explained.

"In F1 we have rule changes year-to-year but those are small compared to the America's Cup where the campaigns are often three or four years apart. That means the space you need to explore, the number of variables in the design challenge, are really large.

"We would be completely lost were it not for the fact that this team has a great group of seasoned America's Cup engineers who are able to guide the team through that design space, only spending the effort in the areas that are likely to give us the most performance on the boat."

"A lot of similarity in the difficulty of the challenge"

However, there are also clear similarities between the challenges posed by Formula 1 and the America's Cup.

"An America’s Cup team may only be about 10 percent the size of a major Formula 1 team, but there is a lot of similarity in the difficulty of the challenge," Allison added.

"Everything has to be right, or nothing is right. There are a lot of areas where we can contribute strongly from the beginning. We're not bad at aerodynamics here, and it's not a huge stretch into hydrodynamics.

"We're also pretty good at structural design, structural engineering and we have a wide range of material science backing up our work here to date.

"There's so many areas of overlap where we will be able to contribute to this campaign working alongside our experienced America’s Cup colleagues and hopefully at the end, we can produce something we will all be proud of."

Watch the video below to see Allison discuss the challenge further!

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