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Mercedes

Mercedes' latest deal puts Hamilton in pole to make F1 history

The latest contract renewals of senior management at Mercedes put Lewis Hamilton in prime position to achieve his goal of an eighth World Championship.

Hamilton Allison
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

When Mercedes decided to conduct a mid-season cabinet reshuffle midway through the 2023 season, you knew something was awry behind the scenes.

Mike Elliott, who succeeded James Allison in the technical leadership of the team in 2021, was moved over to the broader Chief Technical Officer role.

It was seen as a demotion after Mercedes went from championship juggernaut's to a distant runners-up. Elliot would later leave Mercedes six months later, after 11 years at the Brackley-based outfit.

Much of the blame for their current form was aimed at Elliott, given he was in charge of the overall direction they took for the W13 which fed into last year's W14. The team rightly took risks based on what their data led them to believe in the wind tunnel, but it turned out to be a nightmare on track.

Elliott himself was aware of the problems they faced, so much that he led the review into their technical organisation and decided to step back on his own terms. Handing the keys back to Allison sealed his fate, and now Mercedes have secured the long-term future of someone who was at risk of either leaving for good or being poached by a rival.

Allison will be key to their rebuild

Mercedes is now in rebuild mode after a win-less season and one of their worst since taking over the Brawn GP team in 2010.

Lewis Hamilton is arguably operating at his peak and needs a car worthy of regularly challenging for wins, while the team must prove to George Russell that it was worth the time invested when they signed him as a junior nearly 10 years ago.

Allison boasts a wealth of F1 experience beyond his time at Mercedes, picking up Drivers' and Constructors' titles at Renault and Ferrari since his started his career back in the early 1990s.

Mercedes has gone through a mass exodus of key staff members in the last three years, and Allison represents some much-needed stability at senior level.

He's an effective communicator, as evidenced by his ability to concisely explain difficult technical subjects either in TV interviews or through Mercedes' post-race strategy debrief videos.

Looking back on his time at Ferrari, his most significant early contribution was to change their mindset around car design. Often the team would persevere too long with a failing car and commence work on the following year too late.

With the current cost-cap regulations in F1 coupled with the aerodynamic testing restrictions, effective management of resources will be key to turning around a season - as evidenced by Aston Martin and McLaren.

Red Bull is expected to make smaller gains this season, with Team Principal Christian Horner highlighting the convergence as other teams catch up to their concept ideas. Mercedes will be hoping their W15 can capitalise on that out of the box, as they look to "climb Everest."

Keeping Lewis Hamilton

Allison's contract is not the only long term commitment from senior leadership within Mercedes.

When Team Principal Toto Wolff announced his contract renewal with the Silver Arrows, he made reference to the fact that him and Hamilton both have desires to achieve an eighth World Championship together.

The story is far from over and Hamilton has shown his willingness to fight for victories and poles, notably last year's US Grand Prix (even though he was later disqualified) and the Hungarian GP.

The big question mark was over whether he would continue beyond 2026, but commitments from Allison and Wolff should be enough to sway his decision in a period when it might seem like a lost cause.

The prospect of young driver Kimi Antonelli breaking through in F2 this year could also keep him on his toes, as Mercedes looks towards a successor in the near future.

For Hamilton, it's an opportunity to make F1 history and seal his rightful ownership of the eight-time World Champion crown.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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