Mercedes’ James Allison: “We finish winter testing feeling like we’ve explored the car”


Mercedes completed over one thousand laps across the eight days of testing
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

James Allison believes the two weeks of winter testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is extremely punishing for everyone involved, but for his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team, they can look back at the tests with satisfaction for the amount of work they managed to achieve.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas completed a total of one thousand and forty laps across the eight days of testing, which equates to 4,841-kilometres of running, with two hundred and one of those laps being completed on the final day.

“Eight days of winter testing is a punishing schedule,” said Mercedes technical director Allison. “All of us out here at the track and those who have supported it back at the factories are feeling the cumulative loss of sleep.

“But I think we can look back on these two winter tests with some satisfaction, having designed, planned and then executed a very complex series of tests with some competence.”

With a lot of interference from the weather in test one, test two became even more important to Mercedes, and under the guidance of chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes were able to put together a good programme that enabled them to get as much information about the car and the 2018 Pirelli tyres as possible, with Allison revealing that both Hamilton and Bottas have given positive feedback about the characteristics of the W09.

“The loss of time caused by the inclement weather during the first test is something that Andrew Shovlin and his team were able to nimbly work around and come back with a good programme,” said Allison. “We finish winter testing feeling like we’ve explored the car and the tyres.

“We know that we put a good amount of kilometres onto it without any significant reliability difficulties and feel that we have in the car a good, strong foundation on which to build our 2018 campaign.

“Both drivers seem to like the car, it responds well to set-up changes and has shown a good turn of speed. I say that with caution because even with all the mileage we’ve done it’s chastening to note that we have not yet come close to completing the full life cycle of core components such as the engine and the control electronics.”

Allison has been around the paddock long enough to know that teams generally will not give all of their secrets away during pre-season testing, so it is with some caution from Mercedes’ part to say where they are in relation to their rivals, particularly those at Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.

“Although we make our best efforts to try and figure out our competitive position, we don’t know what the other teams are going to do between now and Melbourne and we don’t really know with full accuracy what they’ve been doing here,” insisted Allison.

“So there’s all sorts of reasons to be cautious – but this has been a good winter test. For now we can be content that we’ve managed to deliver that, and we look forward to Melbourne.”