The destination of James Allison

Once upon a time, in the world before Bruce Willis, a genteel form of entertainment was to go to the local theatre to watch Agatha Christie whodunnits, which had been translated into theatre from the original novels. It was always fun to try to work out who had murdered whom and why. The Mousetrap is still playing every night in London, 61 years and 25,000 performances after its opening. Everyone likes a nice mystery.

At the moment F1 has a great whodunnit going on. Lotus F1 has announced that its Technical Director is leaving, but no one knows to where he is headed. All the likely suspects have denied that they are responsible and the man himself is giving away no clues, except that he has signed an NDA and cannot speak. The primary clues are thus: who would make him sign an NDA and why and what the different teams have told one another and the media. McLaren and Ferrari have assured one another that they are not signing James, but perhaps some semantics has been involved. Perhaps when asked they had not actually signed, but were on the point of doing so. F1 is often like that. They tell “the technical truth”. I explained this some years ago, as follows:

“There is, let us say, a rumor in the paddock that Subaru is talking to Blue Wombat Racing and that a deal has been done for Blue Wombat to use Subaru V10 engines.
What does a good journalist do? He goes to ask the team if the stories are true. Oh look, here comes Mr. Talking Head, the team’s blue-eyed front man. Hello, you say. Can I have a word? No, he replies, and sweeps by, disappearing into a motorhome.

Grrr… An hour later he re-emerges. Can I have a word? You say politely. No, he says and sweeps by, mumbling some excuse about Bernie… Oh, you say loudly, that’s such a shame. I just wanted to know if you still have a job. This usually works when the talking head is a mere employee or a minority shareholder. If he is a team owner it is more complicated but any mention of the tax man usually results in a screech of soft leather as his handmade Italian shoes come to a sudden stop. He returns in a hurry. I hear you have a deal with Subaru, you say.

You cannot honestly expect me to answer that question, he says, trying to dodge the issue. Why not? It is an easy question. Do you have a deal with Subaru? No, he says, I do not. And there you have it. A novice F1 journalist will at this point rush off to the press room and file a “Blue Wombat Racing chief denies Subaru deal” story. But what did Mr. Talking Head really say? I-DO-NOT. When you think about it, why would HE have a deal with Subaru? The question should have been: “Does the team have a deal with Subaru?” The answer would, of course, have been “No”. But is that the truth? What is Subaru? It is a brand. A brand owned by a big anonymous company called Fuji Heavy Industries. Any deal would be between Blue Wombat Racing and Fuji Heavy Industries. So you ask the question differently. Have you spoken to Fuji Heavy Industries? No, he replies. What does that mean? You could argue that it is impossible to talk to an organization. One can talk to members of an organization but not to the company itself. And so one has to ask a different question. Have you talked to any person employed by Fuji Heavy Industries? No, he replies (just for a change).

So that is that. Or is it? Teams have agents, lawyers, acquisition managers and other assorted fixers to do all that rubbish. It is quite possible that Mr. Talking Head has not spoken directly with anyone from Fuji Heavy Industries. Do you have a contract with Fuji Heavy Industries? You might try. No (…well not on me. It is in my briefcase). Does Blue Wombat Racing have a deal with Fuji Heavy Industries? No (… the contract is between Blue Wombat Racing Cayman Islands Inc. and Fuji Heavy Industries). If you ask whether there is a contract between Blue Wombat Racing Cayman Islands Inc. and Fuji Heavy Industries, you will run into all kinds of trouble. No, will come the answer. (…what is a contract? Is it not merely a document which is the basis for a future negotiation rather than a binding legal entity?) Or worse than that. Don’t you trust my word?

This is an old trick in the F1 paddock. Most journalists are far too polite to admit that they do not trust the person with whom they are speaking. It’s rude to suggest such a thing and Mr. Talking Head is bargaining that the journalist will not be as uncouth as to accuse him of being untrustworthy. And so, you have to mumble that it is not a question of trust or a discussion about honesty. It is simply a question which requires an answer. Well, he will say, as far as I know there is no deal with Fuji Heavy Industries at the moment. That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? But what did he really say? “As far as I know” means that he can deny knowing the information if later challenged on the subject. In American politics they call this concept “deniability”. Just to make sure he has added “at the moment” so that he can later claim that when he denied the deal it had not been done…

You can go on all day. Dreaming up questions and then thinking of ways in which the slippery fish of the paddock will slide out of them. And, of course, you cannot really accuse them of lying later on because technically-speaking no lies have been told. The questions have been avoided or there is sufficient vagueness to render the answer deniable at a later date. Either that or the meaning of the words is being debated. It is a bit like having sex in the White House… I didn’t have sex with her, said the President, but she had sex with me…

What this means is that in the end asking questions is a pointless exercise – unless one knows the answer already and so you can challenge the target at the right moment and get the truth as they scramble to get out of trouble. If you catch them out, they often break down – and then the truth is out… and they cannot do anything to stop it. One leaves with a sense of victory. The information itself may not be that exciting but it is game and as everyone in F1 will tell you, winning is everything.

So denials mean very little. Logic is usually the best way to work out what is happening, but logic does not always work. Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes was not logical, except for Lewis Hamilton…

So what is right for James Allison? His kids have finished school so he could take off to Italy. He loves flying and has an aerodrome at the end of his garden. Why would he leave that? But he loved his time in Italy when he previously worked for Ferrari. Perhaps there is a house with an aerodrome next door near Maranello…

However… Ferrari has a technical director who is still settling into his chair. The chief designer has been round the block a few times, but does Allison want to be reporting to someone after having ruled the roost at Lotus?

Money is obviously an element but then so too is winning and James wants to win. Any man who has a plane of his own does not NEED money. Money is just a measure of his success.

Mercedes will soon get a new team principal in Paddy Lowe and there is no reason why he might not want a new TD. But Mercedes says “No, it is not us.” One can argue that McLaren and Williams need new technical leadership given the results, but both say “No it is not us.” Red Bull does not really need a new TD. Adrian Newey is doing a fairly decent job. Caterham says “No it is not us” and it makes little sense for James to be going anywhere else because he would not have the tools to win.

It is a real whodunnit. Or perhaps a real whosabouttidoit…

152 thoughts on “The destination of James Allison

    1. Has to be the favourite, they have hemorrhaged a lot of talent over recent years. I suppose the big question is, is it MW’s departure that will leave the vacancy?

      Where is Mr Talking Head when you really need him?

  1. I maintain that the Milton Keynes based team, Red Bull owned or otherwise are preparing for life post Newey.

    Allison and Key together could be solution.

    Joe, have your sources confirmed Paddy Lowe hill be a Mercedes man? the vague nature of the information available leads me to think he too could be in discussions with another team.

    1. Well now… Let us not forget also that (a) Christian Horner has been made to look like the Man With No Ballocks by Vettel and Marko, and presumably would not object to a change of scenery; (b) when Herr Mateschitz decides that motor racing is no fun any more because he’s not winning all the time, Milton Keynes Racing will sink into chaos; and (c) Horner and Tony Fernandes are already partners in an Arden operation in a junior formula…

      A shiny 10p piece says James Allison to Caterham, with Christian Horner joining as team principal this winter.

        1. This is a delightful fantasy for fans of the green team. However, I do not see them having such a revolutionary software upgrade in management coming any time soon.

  2. Joe, you’ve not answered the important question. Has Blue Wombat Racing Cayman Islands Inc. signed a deal with Fuji Heavy Industries?

    As far as James Allison goes if we believe everything at face value he’s leaving the sport or moving way down the grid. Is it possible someone is getting a new team off the ground and he is central to it?

  3. My wife is a big Agatha Christie fan, but I was very disillusioned when I found that she cheats in her plots, she lays false clues but never explains what they meant e.g. why he was standing there with a knife in the rain?

    Lewis’s move was not logical but maybe fortuitous, he would be even more miserable at McLaren now.

    By now James new employer must have signed something if only a letter of intent. So the question “Are the team or their representatives negotiating with James or his representatives on his behalf?” Should be reasonably cover things (representatives may have several customers)

    Don’t aeroplanes cost a lot of money to keep in good nick? I suppose it depends on what type of plane it is.

    Logically it must be Merc because it fits their strategy of buying up all the good blokes. Lucky they got that police box off of Dr Who, otherwise it would be standing room only! Mind you I still feel that at some point the critical director mass will be reached and a massive explosion will result leaving Merc in pieces.

  4. As any parent wants for their child, the next generation prospers: Mr Allison’s dad used to have to make do with flying some of Her Majesty’s aircraft. 🙂

      1. It is fair to say though Joe that you in previous post somewhat lambasted anyone who thought that perhaps one of your denial sources could be in fact not telling the truth as per your article above.

      2. 11 = I guess that might be one less source you trust. We’ll see what the outcome is, since any source can wriggle into a situation of deniability as you say.

  5. Just out of interest does anyone know the salary range (including bonuses) for a technical director these days. Sounds to me some are not far of a driver’s pay!

    1. I believe I read somewhere Newey signed originally for $10 million a season plus performance bonuses, in hindsight a bargain. I would assume Newey would be the top of the TD’s for pay.

      1. It would usually be the outgoing employer, so that the employee technically is still employed by them, and thus cannot perform their valuable services for a competitor during that period. Also acts as an implied NDA.

    2. I know that some of the guys at McLaren worked out that an average trip to the toilet for Mr Newey cost Mclaren about £300.

  6. Given that all the teams are denying his arrival, it tells us with certainty that one of the teams is lying (or being very creative with the truth).

    Who’s the liar? Were I forced to wager, I’d say he’s going to McLaren, though Mercedes wouldn’t be a shock.

    All the rest are either large steps down or have adequate talent in his department.

  7. I would love it if it was Williams, I`m not saying Mike Coughlan is not a good TD (look what he achieved last year, but I`m surprised no one has posted anything about the fact that Pastor Maldonado`s qualifying time this year was almost a second slower than last year) but Williams need strength in depth.
    And also James is a good fit for any team trying to be competitive on a restrictive budget.

  8. Which teams have lost senior personnel recently who need replacing? I dont keep totally up to speed with it all but Mclaren are the only team I am aware of who have lost someone recently? Although I have heard rumours that Ferrari may be running out of patience with the current senior guys? but that’s twitter and forums.

    1. I certainly hope so as it’s the pinnacle of motorsport.

      I enjoy F1 as the pinnacle of motor entertainment.

  9. I would have a tenner on Caterham , maybe he is looking at building a team into a winner. And do they need the help 😦

  10. Reading this made me think back to the BBC comedy ‘Yes Minister’

    Come to think of it, how ironic that the ‘Sir Bernard’ character would be the master of scheming & misdirection.

    And F1 has it’s very own Supremo Bernie….. Hmmm

    1. Don’t you mean Sir Humphrey?

      Bernard Woolley was the naive civil Servant.

      Most F1 types are less like Sir Hunphrey and more like Malcolm Tucker.

  11. I agree with James Allen that the reason for leaving is money, but not salary, rather development budget. That would suggest one of the four bigger teams. Red Bull have Newey, but for how much longer does he want to do this?

    1. If you believe the answer is development budget then of the big four it is just one team, McLaren, who will have Honda throwing resources at them int he very near future.

  12. Would love to see James pop up at Caterham just because I am so keen to see that team succeed. I find them a real breath of fresh air.

    How about Sauber? Are they still looking for the right bloke since Toro Rosso came knocking last year?

  13. So, to sum up –

    It’s neither here nor there if the interviewees are evading the questions or denying the truth.

    It’s all about the interviewer/journalist crafting a story entertaining enough to maintain a healthy number of followers/subscribers.

  14. McLaren certainly seems a possibility, despite their denials. How about going to Redbull as an understudy to Newey though? Adrian will not be with them forever…

    Or, are there any motosports outside F1 that would have the ability to draw someone with Allison’s skills and abilities? I can only think Porsche/Audi sports cars, but even that seems less likely than a long-shot!

  15. There is life outside the F1 paddock and James is one of those people who is good at whatever he does. Maybe he’s simply turning his back on F1?

    1. Very unlikely that there’d be the gardening leave and NDA in place if he were bidding farewell to F1.

  16. exciting stuff! My money is on McLaren as they need fresh ideas and direction the most but an outside bet on Mercedes as they appear to be buying up everyone they can and if Ross goes bye byes … either way he could stay near his aeroplane!

  17. Have you noticed Joe that a number of key top F1 folk of all disciplines have vanished off the map of late? Not to go to wherever but just gone. Is it (and it probably is) too much of a conspiracy theory to suggest that someone is piecing together a new team that is a world away from the HRT level?

    If they all have NDAs then chasing the people won’t go far but can one chase key items? Maybe looking to see who has an F1 useable wind tunnel that is not in current F1 use? All the world uses Toyota’s so it is not that one. Maybe component suppliers have some useful information?

    1. Toyota have 2 tunnels.

      2 tunnels, 2 top teams using them (McLaren and Ferrari) last I heard.

      Same source said that the tunnel at McLaren was being used by either Marussia or Force India, I forget which.

      1. Pat Symonds in a recent podcast stated that Toyota wind tunnels are used by both McLaren and Ferrari. McLaren and Ferrari both use separate tunnels and team personal from Toyota.

        The McLaren wind tunnel is used by Marussia I’m sure Pat said the deal was 80 hours a week.

  18. It’s got to be McLaren. They’ve lost Paddy Lowe and are struggling. Of course they’re going to try court Adrian Newey and James Allison. With Newey enjoying success at the front with Red Bull, why would he leave? That leaves the next best man, Allison. McLaren must have bid heavily for him.

  19. Mclaren, looks to be the most likely team with an immediate need, but I guess it will be Ferrari in the end! I’d seriously doubt if anything but the big 4 would be a lure for someone like Allison. .

    As for Mercedes, I am really not sure if Paddy was a better choice over James Allison, given Lotus too have been working on FRIC like the Mercedes and seem to have done a better job at it, i.e. in the words of Ross Brawn, I guess this has a bearing on 2014 car as well in terms of continuity.The other bit that is complimentary, is the fact that silver arrows has serious tyre issues and Lotus have been excellent in that department. It all seems logical, but where do you put Paddy Lowe then?

    Joe, between the Allison and Lowe, who do you think would bring more value to a team like Mercedes. On a separate note, how much of innovation leading to on track performance can be directly attributed to the technical directors at F1 teams ?

  20. Conversely, any man with his own aeroplane actually does need a lot of money in order to keep it. As someone once wrote, an aeroplane is a hole in the air, surrounded by aluminium, into which you pour a great deal of money.

    1. One four seater plane? He may like a fleet of them. A couple of yachts, ocean going and river cruiser. Appartment on upper east side. Greek island with its own fresh water spring. Paris town house in St Germain, near Joe’s. His own ladies tour de france cycle winning team in peach livery. Own ladies champion water polo team, peach livery. Chocolate from Marcolini in Brussels every day for life.

      Give me cash, and I’ll spend it.

    2. It might not be a “great deal of money” to him, though. When you reach a certain level of wealth owning a plane is no different than owning a car. The more money you earn the nicer your car/plane or even carplane. Lewis just bought himself a shiny new jet plane. I assume he earns enough to keep it and is not too concerned about its running costs.

  21. I don’t necessarily think it is likely but Williams or perhaps Caterham could benefit from his input and it would be good to see those teams competing nearer the front.

  22. How about this for logic.

    What is James’s biggest asset? I believe it to be in overall design of a car with emphasis on aerodynamics. Which top team lacks a lot in this department? Not Red Bull and not McLaren (ok their car is a pig but last year’s Aero worked well, they just need to tweak the current car). Ferrari have lagged behind but they have been hiring in this area and why shake it up before you know the fruits of your labour? Leaves Mercedes where there are a number of folk there or hired but to my Geoff Willis is the only one solely responsible for Aero (with Aldo Costa more on mechanics). I think it is fair to say Geoff has had a few opportunities now and who knows maybe it is just to bolster the team as they are light still compared to the other 3 big ones. There are two other logical reasons based on James desire to win. One is Lewis Hamilton which is in a fast car a match for anyone. the second one is Ross Brawn with whom he worked (and lets not forget with other big names like Rory Byrne). I hear you say, what about Paddy, well Paddy is just there to take over from Ross as team boss, with James as technical director, Aldo and Wills under him.

    Of course it will turn out to be Ferrari but at least for my own sake that makes no sense at all!

    1. Didn’t Alonso work with James at Renault? Could he be doing a “Schumi” by slowly surrounding himself with famliar names from his past team now that the curent tean haven’t been able to provide him with a dominant car the last 3 years (okay this year’s car at least seems to be there or thereabouts come raceday).

  23. If I may summerise you italics…. … slightly different… but anyway, how do you know if someone has even done or about to?

    A team might and then just direcet the question elsewhere, only to to reveal the contract later when it starts or is ‘done’

  24. with the loss of mark gillan , wiliams are in all kinds of very serious problems. allison, with a substantial wedge and an accompanying fistful of williams shares, toto wolfs and some of FW’s might just be what is going on. partial team ownership would be an attraction that no one else would be able to offer at this point in time.

  25. It will be interesting to see what Allison could do with a big budget. Lotus have tried some interesting concepts over the last few years. What could he do with Ferraris or McLarens development might behind him?

  26. Joe, does McLaren still ‘rotate’ car designers? I remember a few years ago reading about how one team would look after the design of one car and its development, while another would concentrate on the following year, and then when the new car came in, the other team would be free to work on the following year’s design…

    1. I think they claimed to have ditched that when they realised that every other year they seemed to produce a dog. No idea if they’ve since returned to that practice.

      1. …as opposed to every year now they produce a dog. 🙂 maybe they picked the wrong design team…

  27. “The primary clues are thus: who would make him sign an NDA and why…”
    I’m not sure you quite answered this part of your argument… If they’re all denying it, and one is lying… why are they lying. You mainly answer why they are denying…

  28. Joe, Alex Wurz claims to know more about this… he predicts an announcement in Monaco. Is that credible in your view?

  29. i think the question has to be, is this about a TD role or is this about a team looking to call upon his experience in Aerodynamics first as central to the TD role……………

  30. I would maybe suggest finding out why he is leaving. Lotus is doing a fairly good job, they won a race and are in the title fight. The rumor was that he was leaving because of a disagreement concerning the raising of capital for the team. but maybe we need to look into what team would benefit from him the most, and still provide a winning car.

    1. He was not getting on with the CEO this is true, but that had nothing to do with equity. Maybe a budget issue.

  31. Joe knows, he just ain’t saying……what questions should one ask a journalist to pry the story out of him? :-).

    1. As in bored of winning championships? A man who claims to make up his ideas in the shower probably does not have a lot of time to be bored…

  32. It seems to me that a lot of the comments and speculation is about teams with an immediate need. Realistically, can bringing in a new Technical Director at this point do anything for the 2013 season? I know the world of F1 moves quickly, but the results of management changes can take time. It seems to me that whoever picks up Mr. Allison might be looking towards the 2014 season, especially with the rule changes.

    1. Or even 2015 to have any real impact. With gardening leave of 6 months, Allison won’t see the inside of his new office until the start of December and will inherit a car probably in its final design stages.

  33. Herr Vettel and Sr Alonso shared a good laugh just at the closing of the drivers’ press conf, after Fred had poured lukewarm water on the Allison question.

    Maybe Hammy-san saw something in the Lotus he liked.

  34. I still say Ferrari, they just started building their new plant between the existing Maranello plant and restaurant Cavallino. Makes sense to invest in manpower along with the bricks and mortar. Maybe James really like’s pasta in addition to flying?

    Joe – do you think James’s move is more due to Lotus not having substantial future funding in place or the lure of a bigger team? Push or pull?

  35. Which is why good investigative journalism is still crucial in this world, despite the plethora of “copy and paste” journalists garnering their quotes and information from in front of a computer screen.

    Remember – good investigative journalism once led to the toppling of an American President (“Tricky Dicky” Nixon).

    Keep up the good work and asking those awkward questions.

  36. “Any man who has a plane of his own does not NEED money” Ha!
    From personal and expensive experience – I can confirm the opposite is true. Can you spare a dime Joe?? 🙂

    Kitchen Cynic. Mine isn’t even aluminium. A wood and fabric hole in the air costs just as much!!

  37. It must be very frustrating, but intellectually challenging at the same time, to deal with the type of thing you’re talking about. Non-denial denials, etc. Props to you for being able to sort through the BS as often as you do.

  38. I’d gamble on Red Bull as successor to Adrian Newey. Has tons of experience with the Renault ecosystem, builds fast, smart cars… Maybe they try to have a smooth transition – if something like that is possible at such a job level in F1.

    1. It’s definitely Red Bull. He will be the new CTO.

      With Adrian Newey changing roles to take over from Mark Webber.

  39. Joe,

    Allison left due to unhappiness at Lotus and a disagreement with their CEO. No one is a fan of the CEO. Nepotism from the GENII board keeps him there.

    Allison doesn’t have a destination at the moment.

  40. Maybe the biggest clue was what Eric Boullier said to DC during the after race red button show. When asked if he knew where Allison was going he said he didn`t however when asked what his food preference was Eric said “he liked pasta a lot in the past maybe he likes pasta again”

  41. So “denials mean very little”?

    In a previous comment on the same subject (on May 8) you wrote “when I say it has been denied, it has been denied”.

    It doesn’t really add up.

    1. You try to trust people and sometimes you get let down. I believed the source, but I’m not 100 percent sure any longer. Time will tell. It is easy to critical but you should try it sometime. If it was easy everyone would be doing it!

      1. Would you ‘out’ your source if they proved unreliable? Or is it just as likely they’ve been lied to as you? I presume the journalistic punishment for false information is to not let them have publicity again.

        Has there been any repercussions against Perez after he said he had to lie to the media about the mclaren move last year? I know a few journalists were quite unimpressed with that whole line of reasoning.

        I’d guess this is less public but amounts to the same thing.

      2. If Allison goes to Ferrari and Webber does end up at Porsche – what does this say about the quality of your sources?

        I sense some backtracking or back-covering reading through IP.

        1. My sources are so bad I get it wrong every time. I don’t understand why anyone reads this stuff, let alone bothers to make comments. After all, it is the easiest job in the world. You can do it from the couch at home having never met anyone in F1…

          1. I have not published any bold statements based on sources, and I don’t run a blog on F1. Whenever someone questions your judgement your typical easy response is always to dismiss readers with “you don’t know anything about F1 because you’re not in it”.

            It is pointless competing with readers…we don’t have your contacts or access to the sport. However, you made some bold statements on Allison that were quite different to many other well-respected journalists. We should be able to compare your predictions against that of your peers without any offence being taken.

            I am sure that you don’t get things right 100% of the time, and that neither do any of your colleagues.

            1. I am not competing with anyone. I do my best for your benefit. It is fairly clear that the vast majority of people who read this blog do not put a penny into my pocket and would go away if it cost them money. So, if what you get is not good enough for you then that is fine. Go away. If you like to hear what I have to say, don’t whinge if I get it wrong occasionally. It is not easy…

        2. My gosh people, it hasn’t even been announced yet and people are getting out the carving knives! I suspect there are not many who actually know where he is going, and even fewer who will admit to 100%. That’s why it’s called Non Disclosure. The best we can do is continue to speculate until its announced by someone with the authority to do so.

  42. I expect Toto Wolff to make an emphatic statement to the F1 world that he is the man in control at Mercedes AMG F1. The hiring of James Allison as Technical Director and the exit of Ross Brawn and Bob Bell makes that statement.

  43. Well, that was absolutely wonderful. I didn’t learn a thing and had a great time doing so. However, I was reminded of something I already knew: you can be a great writer when you’re in the mood!

    As for the guy’s plane: Does it resemble an old Cessna? Or does it look more like a new Gulfstream?

  44. Joe,

    We are all assuming that he will stay in F1, as some sort of TD, but looking at what Mike Gascoyne is now doing within F1 at Caterham, where he is Chief Technical officer of the Caterham Group, and his main role is in the technology & composites. With the JV between Renault and Caterham, and the composites side selling into a range of different industries, plus the JV with EDS, one does think, this could be a pretty rewarding and challenging job.

    So who else on the grid has a car division, which could use F1 technology, and look to expand into other areas, away from the day to day work of designing an F1 car? You could apply the cutting edge technology to other products in that groups operations. Given that he likes to fly a plane, there are some serious advancements in the composites department, plus an arrange of mega sport car companies who are in need of such skill set, and he seems to have the full set.

    As a side note I would be interested to hear what Mike Gascoyne is working on within the Caterham Group, given that he is a former TD with F1 race & design experience.

  45. The truth is that James Allison is going to Ferrari.

    It seems Pat Fry’s days at Ferrari are numbered. Last year it was suggested that Alonso does not get on well him.

    Italian press Autosprint says “Pat Fry was missing from the pit wall in Barcelona. Yet Ferrari won the race and were able to handle matters without such an important absentee. How was this possible without Fry on the wall, he plays the role of quaterback, but this did not affect the execution of the perfect race”.

    1. That just shoes how one-eyed the Italian media can be. One man does not make an F1 car. Secondly Pat Fry has not been there long enough to have even built his own team yet. He is on the process of doing it. He has also done a decent job getting Ferrari moving in the right direction. Lastly, Fernando Alonso does not choose the engineers…

      1. Ha ha, I was going to say, Alonso really mustn’t like Fry if he can cause organs to rupture…

  46. Well, here’s my conspiracy theory; Paddy Lowe signed with Williams but wants to follow Toto to Mercedes. Williams willing to let him go if Merc buy him out of the contract and replace him with Allison, so now all’s silent on where the two are headed until the mess is sorted.


      1. Good point.

        It’s a pity the Mole’s so quiet nowadays, this seems like a topic that could do with the touch of the Motor Racing and Trade Development Department .

  47. Racing cars and Planes.

    I had great deal of sporting sucess with my childhood friend, won championships, but couldn’t continue after braking my thigh skiing.

    So I introduced him to car racing and rallying. I nearly bancrupted myself trying to get F3 season together.
    He ended up owning a workshop making racing cars, ( still owns the business, but now making various car conversions).
    He bought a Czech made twin engine Morava plane, and asked me to fly it with him to the North Pole when it was 50 years old. I thought he was crazy, but he did it in 2008 !
    I still think he is crazy, but he now has 2 private Cessna jets and 5 other planes, and appartment in Monaco….

    Hmm, where did I go wrong…?

    one time F3 driver

  48. You can ask a horse if he has drunk the water, but he won’t necessarily tell you! McLaren makes most sense in HR terms. Ferrari makes most sense personally. Mercedes makes no sense whatsoever, but that hasn’t stopped them hiring everyone else. Red Bull will not move Mr Newey, unless Adrian demands to stay in England with his pencils and laptops instead of going to all those pesky races. Alex Wurz, a personal friend of James, said it will be pubic in a week or so. I doubt it. There are very good reasons why a team would not want to demotivate a lame duck, while the new boy is busy tending his roses for 6 months. Curiouser and curiouser! Someone knows. My guess is if Mr Joe Saward doesn’t know, then very few people do. BTW, my 10p is on red, even if the whisperers say neigh!

  49. There was a story on Caterham’s FB yesterday saying that they and the groop had an ‘exciting announcement’ coming up, and Mr Gascoyne was involved

    Wonder if this is the exciting news?

  50. How about the following scenario? There are some unhappy bunnies at Renault who are spending millions on a new engine but cannot see a team putting their name in the public eye. Red Bull already market their drink and Infiniti and there are question marks over their long term commitment. Genii do not appear to be providing Lotus with the income required to be a front running team and Renault might find it difficult to work with them. Caterham can only become a front running team in the long term. That leaves Williams and a rumoured new Renault Clio Williams next year to be promoted. So how about Renault becoming an enabler for a revival in Williams fortunes. Attracting Allison and Brawn, who cannot be too happy at Mercedes, maybe with equity deals, would be a good starting point.

    1. Yes I like the thought process. With both Lotus and Williams being based in Oxfordshire means James doesn’t have to uproot the family.
      People make new employment decisions based on 1) respect from their peers, 2) personal reasons like family, home, and pleasure pursuits, and 3) Money.

      It seems quite clear that Brawn wont stay at Mercedes and he has the money to buy a stake in Williams…he even has a ready-made source of shares with Toto, who, of course, is looking to unload them.
      The stars seem aligned.

  51. I agree with Joe, I can´t see any reason for replacing or overlooking Pat Fry. He´s done a great job in the time he has been in Maranello. Mclaren have to be the obvious destination. The fact that Whitmarsh says he´s not going there should be qualified with “as far as I know”…. perhaps there is a very good reason for Martin not being aware of a change in the managerial structure at Woking.

  52. The logical answer is Ferrari, but the water is muddied by the lengthy period of gardening leave that now seems to be necessary between resigning and starting a new post. This makes it difficult to replace a departing technical director, except from within. All the external candidates would have to go into similar purdah, so there would have to be a gap that no team could afford. It must be possible that a team might appoint from within, whilst also recruiting to the same or similar post an external candidate to start at a later date. To avoid demotivating the internal appointee in the meantime, this would have to be kept secret. That could bring McLaren into the frame.

    I note that you announce Paddy Lowe as the new team principal at Mercedes, even though that role is already crowded with Toto Roche and Ross Brawn sharing it. If you’re right, this would be a double irony. One is that the 2013 McLaren doesn’t exactly enhance Lowe’s claims to be a genius. The other is that the case against Brawn is that, even though he was a very successful technical director, he hasn’t been a successful team principal. Indeed there is little history in F1 of technical directors becoming successful team principals. The Brackley operation has never been in the top tier and it may be that Ross Brawn’s undoubted skills as a technical director simply haven’t equipped him to turn that round as a team principal. So why appoint another (and rather less successful) technical director to replace him?

          1. Damn, it really is two lambs…

            (I just assumed it would be girls and clicked to see how they looked.)

  53. Joe, can you look into the matter of Renault not happy with the exposure given by F1?? Heard that Bernie gonna meet up with their CEO on this matter. Their 2014 powerplant is rumored to be the most expensive, williams, Lotus and Caterham might switch their supplier to merc or ferrari/

  54. joe, any chance someone gave him a contract just so he would stop working on Lotus’ car this year? I certainly looks like a title challenger, and with strong development can put Kimi in the window at the end. Is someone trying to stifle Lotus’ 2013 chance? Would it be worth it for Ferrari/RedBull?

  55. People are assuming that Allison is going towards something he wants. He could be moving away from something he doesn’t want. I heard recently that Lotus have wonga problems.

    1. regardless of what money is in the bank, they have a title challenging car – why would he leave now, in this year, because of problems with availablility of money? If that was the case, you’d think he’d stay at least until the end of the year.

  56. How many years has Charlie Whiting been around for now? Perhaps he fancies a change and Allison is lined up to fill his boots?

  57. As a retired long time e
    mpoyee of a mega corporation this has all the signs (NDA, secrecy, long lead time) of big business. My guess for what it is worth is that Honda is pulling the string and JA may be headed there or as a replacement to someone who is (Brawn). Makes sense to have successful current knowledge to help integrate a Honda engine in someone’s racecar.

  58. Joe – don’t be too harsh on your earlier source as people have to protect themselves in the current environment.

    I would love to get a blog post from you with some insight into this year’s Williams effort. Last year they seemed to be making good progress. Is it just that they had written this year off in order to preserve resources for next year?

  59. Frankly, if it’s not McLaren then they will have dropped the ball badly. I am not party to the deal, but a left of field RBR move shouldn’t be discounted.

  60. Although Ferrari seem to be the number 1 rumour right now, I think now is an odd time to sign James. Ferrari are on the up and they have senior guys that are now getting the job done.

    McLaren need his skills but have filled Paddy Lowe’s position. Mercedes must have run out of office chairs by now.

    So my fliers would be:

    1. Williams as they currently have a need, a shareholding that could sweeten the deal and Renault engines.


    2. Lotus are looking to become Lotus Honda and Renault want to have a full works team.

    In fact lets make this totally unrealistic and add that the new Renault f1 team have also pre-signed Kimi.

      1. Not that bad a thought to be honest. We know Lotus isn’t happy with Renault because of the 22 Million Euros a year for the new engine, the Honda engine is probably free (not including advertising). One way or another the Honda announcement is a catalyst for change.

  61. Joe,
    My question is why an NDA? The only reason I can see is that is because of commercial confidentiality involving a team that is NOT a current F1 team or supplier. If it was a current team I cant really see the need. But a decision by a listed company to play in this space is one that cannot be revealed until the company has made an announcement because otherwise there are insider trading issues.

    So the destination is a new team,, or, a team being purchased by a new player or car maker. Now who needs the money? Answer – Force India.
    Who else needs the money? Lotus, so its probably not them
    The answer for the buyer, surely, is Toyota.

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