The long running saga of Paddy Lowe’s move from McLaren to Mercedes was resolved today when the technical director was released early from his contract to begin work on June 3rd.
Originally Lowe was being held to his contract and was set to be blocked from starting work in Brackley before the end of 2013.
But the announcement that McLaren is to move from Mercedes to Honda engines meant that Mercedes had a bargaining chip to negotiate his early release. Which means he will be able to play an active role in preparations for 2014, a year which Mercedes has targetted as its breakthrough year to challenge for the world championship under the new turbo engine formula.
McLaren has a contract for a supply of Mercedes engines for 2014, when the new formula comes in and the German manufacturer was very unhappy that Honda engineers would potentially have access to information about its 2014 hybrid turbo engines and would learn a great deal about them, which would help with its own preparations for 2015 entry.
So it appears that they have leveraged this situation to trigger the early release of Lowe. It will be a major boost for Mercedes to have Lowe’s input into the 2014 chassis and engine integration as well as a longer term view on 2015 and 2016 designs.
Lowe has been given the title Executive Director (Technical) and according to a statement from Mercedes he will be part of a triumvirate of senior management figures, clearly shadowing Brawn.
Officially the statement says he “will work closely with Team Principal, Ross Brawn; Executive Director (Business), Toto Wolff; and the team’s senior technical management. As Team Principal, Ross Brawn will retain overall responsibility for technical and sporting matters.”
Speaking to JA on F1 last month, Toto Wolff suggested that ultimately Lowe would take over Brawn’s responsibilities, as Brawn did not want to carry on for ever, but that it was up to Brawn to decide the timetable for that,
“The ball is in his court. Ross is conscious that he will not do this forever,” said Wolff. “We are committed long term and he needs to look after someone who is able to do it.
“Ross doesn’t need to stay doing what he is doing at the moment. I’m not pushing him out. He isn’t sure if he wants to do it in same way, [with all the] travelling, like Patrick Head did at Williams.
“Who am I to push Ross Brawn out? That guy won 15 world championships, with three different teams and won races with four different teams.”