The Mercedes F1 team has confirmed that its executive director Paddy Lowe has been placed on gardening leave ahead of his departure from the outfit.
Following months of speculation about the future of the team’s technical chief, Mercedes said on Tuesday night that it had taken a decision to part ways with Lowe after three-and-a-half years together.
Former Ferrari technical director James Allison has been touted as a potential replacement for Lowe, but Mercedes said that there were no plans yet to announce its next step.
It said that in the short term its 2017 car preparations would be led by senior staff Aldo Costa (engineering director), Mark Ellis (performance director), Rob Thomas (COO) and Geoff Willis (technology director).
Strength in depth
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ motorsport boss, was confident that the Brackley-based team had enough strength in depth to be able to weather Lowe’s departure.
“Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three and a half years and we thank him for his contribution to this significant chapter in Mercedes’ motorsport history,” said Wolff.
“Success in Formula 1 is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organisation.
“We have the talent in place to continue our success of recent years and we plan to build upon it in 2017 and beyond.”
Lowe added: “I have had a fantastically successful and enjoyable three and a half years at Mercedes working with an incredible team of people.
“I am now looking forward to a new challenge and wish everyone well at Mercedes.”
Williams talks ongoing
Lowe has been most strongly linked to Williams for several weeks, but it is understood that a deal has not yet been finalised and discussions on that front are continuing.
However, the move by Mercedes to put Lowe on gardening leave may act as a prompt to hurry the talks up – especially against the backdrop of negotiations between the German car manufacturer and Williams regarding a deal for Valtteri Bottas.