After six years in Italy, James returned to the United Kingdom and a familiar home at Enstone, now under the Renault name, taking on the role of Deputy Technical Director. With young Spaniard Fernando Alonso at the wheel, Renault were the team to beat – taking top honours in the Constructors’ Championship in 2005 and 2006.
James was promoted to Technical Director in 2009 and remained with the team as it transitioned to Lotus Renault and later Lotus F1 Team, fighting back to the top step of the podium in 2012 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Kimi Räikkonen scoring the team’s first win in four years.
In 2013, James headed back to Ferrari, this time as Technical Director. After a fruitless year for the team in 2014, James’ influence was crucial as Sebastian Vettel claimed three wins the following year, when the Scuderia emerged as the closest challenger to the title-winning Mercedes team.
James departed Ferrari midway through the 2016 season and returned to the Formula One grid in 2017 as Technical Director of the Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team.
When asked what he loves about Formula One, here’s James’ full, non-abridged answer: “I love the fight. I love that it is grindingly, desperately difficult because that is what makes any success so meaningful. I love that nothing about it is vanilla; technology, skill, cunning, personality, humour – everything is extreme. But above all, I love the sense of shared purpose and belonging that comes from being in an F1 Team. It is not a mere job, it is a brilliant, exciting, challenging and deeply fulfilling way of life. All of us who have experienced it are deeply fortunate.”