On the eve of dramatic rule changes, Mercedes-AMG Petronas found itself in need of a new driver and technical chief to fill the voids left by Nico Rosberg and Paddy Lowe’s departures. Not only did the Brackley, U.K.-based Formula One outfit find two people for those roles, it found the two perfect people for them.
Mercedes picked up Valtteri Bottas from Williams Martini Racing in January to replace Rosberg and announced Thursday it secured former Scuderia Ferrari technical director James Allison to fill Lowe’s shoes. In doing so, Mercedes turned what many saw as two major setbacks into opportunities for growth.
Wolff not only selected a driver that could help the dynamic within the team, but also a technical boss who further strengthens Mercedes’ engineering department. Allison’s specialty is in aerodynamics, on which the new regulations place a large emphasis.
Under the direction of Lowe and team principal Toto Wolff, the “Silver Arrows” have won both the driver and constructor championships three consecutive years. Many speculated losing Lowe to Williams seriously would hurt Mercedes’ development timeline, but Wolff seems confident it can continue to fight at the front of the grid with the help of Allison, via F1.
“It wasn’t an easy task to find the right personality who can strengthen our experienced group of engineers, give our talented young team members the space to develop and also bring his own vision to this role,” Wolff said in a statement. “James is a sharp engineer; I think we have found the perfect guy and the right fit with our senior leaders.”
Wolff expressed similar excitement upon signing Bottas, and for good reason.
The 27-year-old Finn proved he’s quick during his time at Williams, finishing ahead of teammate Felipe Massa each year. He also showed he’s consistent, which arguably is even more important in a year when development will be so important.
What’s more, Bottas likely won’t have the same tense — at times toxic — relationship with Lewis Hamilton that Rosberg did. While Hamilton’s rivalry with Rosberg dates to their childhood, he and Bottas have only been competing against each other since 2011.
Bottas also seemingly isn’t as susceptible to head games as Rosberg was, and that was often what caused the intrateam battle to become so heated.
Of course, we won’t know for sure if they can keep their cool until they’re fighting each other for race wins.
Thumbnail photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas