Allison can turn the page with Mercedes

James Allison has emerged in the Barcelona paddock wearing Mercedes colours for the first time.

The highly rated engineer missed much of the 2016 season after his wife suddenly died and his relationship with Ferrari soured.

Now, he is basically replacing the Williams-bound Paddy Lowe as Mercedes' technical chief.

"His skills and personality perfectly complement the team," team boss Toto Wolff told Italy's Corriere della Sera.

"We share the same spirit. For a long time we thought he was the right man for our type of organisation, but he was not available.

"He comes from a terrible period with his family tragedy and last year in which Ferrari did not meet the expectations of president Sergio Marchionne. But he is very motivated and we will help him turn the page," Wolff added.

Just as Allison leaves, Ferrari seems to have surged in performance, and Wolff does not disagree.

"Yes," he said, "although I still don't know who will be our strongest rival. But Ferrari is proving to be very fast.

"Red Bull is still difficult to judge but they will be there," Wolff added.

On the other hand, someone who isn't 'there' - in the paddock - in 2017 is F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

"Bernie took this sport to global levels," Wolff said. "It's strange without him, but we will have to get used to it."

Ecclestone has been ousted by the new Liberty Media era, and already there are fans in the Barcelona paddock and teams being allowed to post video to social media.

It is also said that Liberty wants to stop the huge bonuses being paid to the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.

"We are yet to speak about it," Wolff insists. "The new owners are still in the learning phase."

(GMM)

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