Ferrari: Allison rumors…is there a replacement?

News stories often times come and go. They make an initial impact, positive or negative, and then, over time, they slowly drift from our focus. Depending on your perspective, that timeframe could be a mere 24 to 72 hours.

When the news is tragic and impacts a family, it never fades away. Not after 24 hours, 72 hours or ever. Such is the case for Ferrari’s James Allison and the tragic loss of his wife will be a permanent and massive impact for the Scuderia’s brilliant engineer.

It’s made me wonder about his longevity at a team based in Maranello Italy when his children and home are in the UK. Surely it is a massive issue and perhaps even untenable. Little wonder that the story concerning a conversation with Ross Brawn about returning to Ferrari cropped up this week and whether or not the former Mercedes, Ferrari, Benetton genius is interested, it does make you think about Ferrari’s long-term prospects in the lead engineering role.

I argued earlier this week, based upon a Ross Brawn interview video Sky Sports F1 released, that the pressure the executive management team were placing on the F1 operation was perhaps not the best method forward. Pressure isn’t the best motivation especially when your lead engineer is facing dramatic and tragic life-changing issues.

So who do you find if you are Ferrari? Keep in mind that Rory Byrne is most likely not a full-time option and Ross Brawn didn’t seem keen to sign up for a 20-race calendar so this makes the big names a remote chance unless they throw enough money at Ross to make the travel seem less daunting. The team have lured Jock Clear away from Mercedes and he’s an ace get for the Italians but who is the right guy?

One name comes to mind and it’s not Adrian Newey because you have to assume he’s locked down tight at Red Bull but what about his compatriot over at Scuderia Toro Rosso, James Key? Could James be lured out of a contract he has? Could Ferrari work a deal with the team? Is it even possible? Unknown, but he is a guy I think has massive talent and potential.

Other names like Bob Bell, Paddy Lowe, Pat Symonds, are all tied to teams already but for some reason a James Key/Ross Brawn combination resonates with me. This assumes, of course, that the rumors of James Allison returning to Renault and being home are true. Also, if that is true, I would think Fernando Alonso might be keen to finish his career at Renault in a year or two if James goes back there. I may sound daft but I would give Renault some serious consideration in the next three years.

Anything can happen in Formula 1 and usually does and I wonder if Adrian Newey secretly pines for the opportunity to work in Maranello and see what he could do with the might of Ferrari but that’s probably because I’m a Ferrari fan and as such, terribly biased in my desire to see that happen.

Who do you think would be a possible replacement? This all assumes, for very understandable reasons, that James Allison wants to move back to the UK. Is there a name on your short list and surely it isn’t Kimi Raikkonen is it? I JEST!