Ferrari replaces F1 chief technical officer halfway into season
MARANELLO, Italy (AP) — Ferrari's technical director James Allison has left the team in what was described as a joint decision following a disappointing first half of the Formula One season during which Ferrari failed to win a race.
Allison spent three years in his second stint with Ferrari. Team chief Maurizio Arrivabene thanked him on Wednesday for his ''commitment and sacrifice'' and wished him ''success and serenity for his future endeavors.''
Mattia Binotto takes over as chief technical officer, only days before Sunday's German Grand Prix.
Allison was at Ferrari as head of aerodynamics during the dominant Michael Schumacher era of 2000 to 2004, before moving back to the Renault team, where he was deputy technical director when Fernando Alonso won consecutive titles in 2005 and 2006.
''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,'' Allison said in the Ferrari statement. ''I want to thank them all for the great professional and human experience we shared. I wish everybody a happy future with lots of success.''
The first car designed under Allison's supervision won three races in 2015, but Ferrari has not been able to challenge the dominant Mercedes cars this season. It is also coming under pressure from Red Bull.
Sebastian Vettel, who won four championships with Red Bull, is lagging 82 points behind drivers' standings leader Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel said earlier in the season that the Ferrari has the speed to battle with Mercedes but that it is lacking in the aerodynamics department, an opinion seconded by teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
After finishing fourth in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, which he won last year, Vettel said he did not think the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari was that great,
''We are not happy to finish fourth, because we have to win, we need to improve here and there, but I think the difference with Mercedes is not that big as it looks,'' Vettel said in Budapest.
''We are working very hard. We are moving in the right direction,'' he said.