Renault has approached Formula 1 rival Ferrari in an attempt to re-sign James Allison as part of its recruitment drive.
Allison is currently in his second stint with Ferrari, returning to Maranello almost three years ago as the team’s technical director. The 48-year-old has played a key role in helping revive Ferrari since joining, with a near two-year drought ended by Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia 2015.
Although recent speculation linked Allison to the role of team principal as a replacement for Maurizio Arrivabene, Renault is keen to bring him back to Enstone. Allison is seen as someone who can help Renault live up to its pre-season predictions of challenging for wins and world titles in 2018-’19 following its takeover of Lotus.
Sources have confirmed that, aside from Allison, Renault has also made approaches to other teams as it seeks to bring in the best personnel. It is unclear whether Allison would replace or work alongside chief technical officer Bob Bell.
Racing director Frederic Vasseur’s role is known to be under the spotlight, with one source suggesting he has failed to gel with the team, although it can also be argued he has not been provided with the tools needed to do the job.
One consideration for Allison with regard to a potential return are his personal circumstances, after suffering the loss of wife Rebecca in late March to meningitis. Prior to that, Allison split his time between Britain and Italy to be with his wife and three children. Rejoining Renault could allow him to spend more time with his children.
Should Allison accept the position it would be his fourth spell at Enstone after starting his F1 career in 1990 with Benetton as a junior designer, spending two years with the team. Following a stint with Larrousse, Allison returned to Benetton in 1994 as head of aerodynamics, helping Michael Schumacher win the drivers’ titles that year and again in 1995.
Allison’s first foray to Ferrari followed in 1999 before heading back to Enstone in 2005, taking on the role of deputy technical director prior to becoming technical director in 2009. Allison was instrumental in the drivers’ and constructors’ championship successes of 2005 and 2006.