Race for Allison's services to hot up

McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso races at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest on July 24.
McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso races at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest on July 24. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • The sudden availability of James Allison, one of the brightest engineering minds in Formula One, is likely to prompt a flurry of interest in the paddock.

However, the Briton, who split from Ferrari on Wednesday, is unlikely to commit to a hectic schedule of global travel.

Even before the death of his wife, Rebecca, through bacterial meningitis after the Australian Grand Prix in March, he had altered his role as the technical director at Ferrari to spend more time with his family.

It is now thought the 48-year-old wants to be in Britain as much as possible so he can be close to his children.

McLaren are known to be long-term admirers and were anxious to sign him three years ago.

There could be a return to his old team Renault, who have already employed him on three occasions.

Williams, who have stalled after two years of heroic overachievement, would also be a good fit, especially as the team are in urgent need of fresh input with their aerodynamics.

Allison's departure from Ferrari was agreed mutually but his position had been the centre of speculation for a number of weeks.

It was even rumoured he would take full control of the team. He has been replaced by Mattia Binotto.

It has been a difficult season for the Italian team, who were tipped to give Mercedes a stronger run for their money.

The German team are dominating at the head of the field again while Ferrari keep a nervous watch for Red Bull in their mirrors.

There have been poor strategy calls that arguably cost Sebastian Vettel victory in Melbourne and Montreal but also tyre and technical issues. Allison brought order and organisation but the team's innate conservatism has persevered.

Allison had a long association with the most famous team in F1.

He was head of aerodynamics when Michael Schumacher ruled the world in the early years of this century. He then returned to Renault before rejoining Ferrari three years ago.

He said: "During the years I spent at Ferrari, at two different stages and covering different roles, I could get to know and appreciate the value of the team and of the people, women and men, which are part of it.

"I want to thank them all for the great professional and human experience we shared."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'Race for Allison's services to hot up'. Print Edition | Subscribe