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Mercedes’ James Allison reveals team’s optimism for new F1 engine project in 2026 as they plot 2014 repeat | F1 News

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Mercedes’ James Allison reveals team’s optimism for new F1 engine project in 2026 as they plot 2014 repeat | F1 News

Mercedes technical director James Allison has revealed the “feeling is pretty similar” inside the team about preparations for F1’s next big engine overhaul in 2026 to the lead-up to the sport’s last major change in 2014, when they began an unprecedented era of success.

Less than two years out from the sport’s next major regulation change, when the electrical output produced by the existing V6 engines is being dramatically increased in addition to increased sustainability measures, growing focus is being placed on teams’ preparations for the big reset.

Mercedes have been repeatedly linked with Max Verstappen, who Toto Wolff has publicly said is his number-one target to replace the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton and is the driver “everyone is waiting” on in the market, amid suggestions that the world champion could be enticed into a switch by the promise of their rival’s engine project despite Mercedes’ current on-track difficulties relative to Red Bull.

Red Bull are building their first F1 engine for 2026 in conjunction with Ford having ramped up their start-up Powertrains division in recent years at their Milton Keynes base.

Speaking to Sky Sports in a fascinating interview at the Emilia Romagna GP, Allison, who joined Mercedes in 2017 after the first three seasons of their record run of eight Constructors’ Championships in the hybrid era, was asked how progress with their 2026 power unit was going.

“I wasn’t in the team in the run-up to 2014 when the new generation of power units were being concocted and the enormous push to make them a reality was taking place,” said Allison, who was at Ferrari at the time.

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Mercedes produced one of the most dominant seasons in F1’s history in the first year of the hybrid engine rules in 2014

“But those of us in the team who were, tell me that the feeling is very similar.

“There is a massive shove going on in HPP [Mercedes High Performance Powertrains] to make a success of that because it will set the course of anyone who’s lucky enough to have that in the back of their car for some seasons to come.

“We’re lucky that we will be on the receiving end of all the good investment they are making on our joint behalf.”

In addition to the Mercedes works team, McLaren and Williams will run the German manufacturer’s power units into the sport’s new era.

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Max Verstappen insists he is ‘happy’ at Red Bull despite reports linking him with a possible move away from the team

Verstappen’s Red Bull contract runs for another four seasons but his future has been the subject of repeat speculation all season so far. Speaking to Sky Sports F1 at Imola on Thursday, the triple world champion said: “It’s like I say – I’m good, I’m relaxed, I’m happy and my contract is until 2028.”

Wolff ‘can’t wait’ to see 2026 engine performance

Speaking after Sunday’s race in Imola, Wolff appeared to echo Allison’s confidence over Mercedes’ prospects in 2026.

In what would appear to be a never-ending war of words between the pair, Wolff responded to Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner’s comments regarding a significant number of staff members from Mercedes’ engine division having left to join the Milton Keynes squad.

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Toto Wolff gives insight into what was discussed at the team principals dinner in Imola.

“We have an engine department that is good as it can be with a top leadership,” Wolff said.

“There is not a millimetre in HPP that I wish would be different in terms of organisational set-up, in terms of the people that work there that I am lucky to interact with, it’s just a perfect organisation.

“They have are just delivering and have delivered for a long time. Since 2014 we have been pretty much the benchmark or with maybe another engine the benchmark, so that hasn’t changed.

“I really can’t wait for 2026 to come and see the different levels of performance of the power units.”

Could Allison work together with Newey at Mercedes?

Like all other leading F1 teams, Mercedes have also been linked with a move for design genius Adrian Newey since news of the 65-year-old’s impending exit from Red Bull in the early part of 2025 was confirmed earlier this month.

Ferrari are considered Newey’s most likely next destination should he continue in F1, which the Englishman has indicated he is likely to do after a break.

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Adrian Newey says ‘a brain is like a muscle and needs exercise’ as he reveals why he could return to F1 after leaving Red Bull

But with all Red Bull’s rivals inevitably monitoring the situation, Allison, who himself is one of F1’s most highly-regarded and successful engineers, was asked whether he could coexist alongside Newey in the same hypothetical line-up.

“That is quite a hypothetical question but I see no reason why not,” Allison replied.

“You’d have to be reasonably clear about who was doing what but I think that any team that’s looking at Adrian on the market as a person who is pretty effective would be asking the same question of how you bring a guy like that in and make the most of him.”

Next up after Imola it’s time for the most-famous F1 race of them all – the Monaco Grand Prix. Watch every session from the famous street circuit from Friday live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 2pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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