Mercedes GP has formally confirmed that technical chief Paddy Lowe has left the World Champion team, ahead of his expected move to Williams.
Mercedes said that Lowe has begun a period of gardening leave, and that in the short term the management team would remain unchanged.
A statement said: “The company’s Board wishes Paddy well with his future endeavours and thanks him for his significant contribution to the team’s achievements. In the short term, our stable technical organisation will continue to operate under the proven and established leadership of our senior directors Aldo Costa (Engineering Director), Mark Ellis (Performance Director), Rob Thomas (Chief Operating Officer) and Geoff Willis (Technology Director).”
Team boss Toto Wolff added: “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.
“Success in Formula One 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.”
“I have had a fantastically successful and enjoyable three and a half years at Mercedes working with a great team of people,” said Lowe. “I am now looking forward to a new challenge and wish everyone well at Mercedes.”
Lowe’s departure is the latest step in what promises to be a series of high profile announcements in the coming days or weeks, including the expected move of Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes, and the return from a brief retirement of Felipe Massa to Williams.
Before Christmas Williams confirmed that chief technical officer Pat Symonds would leave the team at the end of the year, leaving a gap in the team’s management structure – although Lowe could yet arrive at the Grove outfit in a more senior role.
Lowe’s departure is believed to be tied to the Bottas deal, and it appears likely that he will be allowed to start early at Williams, with a short gardening leave, as part of the incentive package designed to encourage Williams to release Bottas.
Meanwhile former Ferrari man James Allison has been lined up to replace Lowe at Mercedes.