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F1 homecoming: Paddy Lowe rejoins Williams as chief technical officer
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Paddy Lowe
Posted By: Editor   |  16 Mar 2017   |  10:48 am GMT  |  66 comments

Paddy Lowe has started work as the Williams Formula 1 team’s chief technical officer, it was announced today.

Lowe, who has spent the last three-and-a-half seasons as the executive director (technical) of the all-conquering Mercedes squad, moves back to the team where he started his F1 career in 1987 as a control systems engineer.

The 54-year-old spent six years with Williams during his first spell with the team, where he worked alongside Sir Frank Williams, Sir Patrick Head and Adrian Newey, and notably helped to create the squad’s active suspension system that helped it dominate F1 during the first half of the 1990s.

Claire Williams

Lowe will have overall responsibility for managing Williams’ engineering operations and will also join the board of directors and take a shareholding in the company.

Speaking after his appointment was confirmed, Lowe, who also worked at McLaren for a 20-year spell between 1993 and 2013 first as head of research and development, then chief engineer, engineering director and ultimately technical director, described the “honour” he felt at rejoining Williams as a senior manager.

He said: “I‘ve always had a deep respect for Williams – my first team in Formula 1. It is a huge honour to return in this leadership position and to have the opportunity to become a shareholder.

Felipe Massa

“I am extremely motivated to play my part in bringing success back to the team. The vision for the future set out by the Williams Board is powerful and has compelled me to join an organisation committed to building on its unique legacy and to reaching the pinnacle of Formula 1 once again.

“I’m looking forward to this exciting new phase to my career working with Claire, Mike O’Driscoll [Williams’ group CEO] and Nick Rose [chairman of the board] and with the rest of this great team – especially Frank himself, who is one of the most committed “racers” I know!”

Claire Williams, the Grove-based squad’s deputy team principal, outlined her hopes that Lowe’s arrival can give Williams a boost in its ambitions to return to the front of the F1 grid.

Claire Williams

She said: “I am delighted that the team is welcoming Paddy back to Williams in the role of chief technical officer. Having someone of Paddy’s calibre and engineering competence is not only a morale boost for everyone at Williams, but I know it will also significantly support our efforts to return this team back to the front of the grid.

“Our ambitions at Williams are unwavering, we want to win races and championships, but to do that you need the best talent in the business. In Paddy we believe we have just that as well as a leader who will drive change. This is a game changer for us and once again makes us extremely excited about this team’s future.”

Lowe’s appointment caps an off-season that featured a lot of staff reshuffling at Williams, particularly in its technical department. Pat Symonds left at the end of last year and a number of senior technical staff in the aerodynamic and production departments also moved on, with former Ferrari chief aerodynamicist Dirk de Beer hired to head up the squad’s aero team.

What do you make of the news that Paddy Lowe as officially rejoined Williams? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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66 comments

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1

F1's worst kept secret...

The question is, did Lowe really make a difference to Mercedes when he joined? They were already on an upward curve thanks to Brawn's and Haug's solid foundations.

Seems like Paddy was at the right place at the right time. Now his time at Williams will really tell us if he's exceptionally good.

2

Look at that track record. Either Paddy's chosen his teams very well or the teams did well to choose him. Few in the sport have had been associated with such continued success, I suspect that doesn't happen by accident.

3

You think Toto will maintain a link with Paddy, wink wink? Boost his old team to #2 Mercedes team status?

4

Hi James/Editor, it seems to me as if there are a number of highly skilled and inspirational technical people in F1 who are as prized by teams as top end drivers. People like Lowe, Allison, Newey, Key etc, but McLaren don't seem to be looking for or attracting those people. I would have thought that they'd have been all over Allison, especially post-Ron as he would appear to be just what the team needs right now. I'm not aware of any high profile and inspirational people at McLaren bar maybe Eric Boullier...but he appears to be more perspirational these days. I guess they must be there, but they're hidden and so are the results!

5

McLaren have just rejoined with Mika Hakkinen, maybe not the required inspirational figure you're referring to, but for me an inspirational figure nonetheless. His reassociation with the team I suppose is intended to hark back to their heritage and an attempt to remind and resurrect after the damage done in recent years.

6

I've allways liked Boullier. He handled Kimi well @Lotus. Not too fussy or anything. I'd like to see him around.

7

This can only be good for williams. They can do better. They have the facilities and now the personnel to move forward. The only problem they face is running a customer mercedes engine. They will not win the WC's with this. The other element lacking ATM is a No.1 driver. This may change with the future development of the team whereby if they can build a super fast car then top drivers will be attracted. I will watch them with a deep interest as we need better teams to take up the challenge of ultimate superiority.

8

other problem and a major one...their driver line-up. Too old and too young

9

Why can't they win with a customer mercedes engine? RBR seem fine with their tag as did mclaren with mercedes prior to 2013.

10

Maybe they can snag Alonso

11

Yes, That's possible i guess. So many unknowns and as well there will be many drivers becoming available at the same time. In reality it is only 8 months until the end of the season and some drivers will already be having preliminary talks 'in principle'. Ferrari will have two drivers off contract and bottas only has one year. Both red bull drivers are locked away for '18 as well. It will be most interesting see to who lands where.

12

The needed to do something, as for the last couple of years the engine has flattered their chassis. This year's car looks to be an improvement, mind, so Lowe should have something good to work with.

13

Williams have been in the wilderness for a very long time and it is about time that they lifted their game otherwise they risk becoming just another team that lost their way!

14

Look for Williams to go to .... Honda
(obviously I am assuming that they will come through this current quagmire)
Honda may not have a F1 team... some time... sooner than might have been expected two years ago?!
Yeah.
I like it,
Williams-Honda.

15

yeah Williams-Honda and then Alonso signs for them lol

16

no ways man, go find ur own manufacturer to boost your coffers by 100mil per year... Sure I;d prefer a P1 (not the car) but money for jam is good too. (WHat on earth was Redbull thinking when they were considering a Honda supply, or were they also gonna get 100mil in the kitty).

17

@ Texas mike...well you may be right but i don't think that the relationships are quite comparable. Rd Bull were instrumental is projecting mario illien into the equation when renault were totally lost. I understand that it was this timely intervention which helped renault back onto a new development path and the ongoing, until recently, of the Illien consultancy to renault. There is no parallel to that with mercedes AMG customers. Whether the closeness of both teams remains a fixture there is no way of knowing but i can only assume that it will until such time as renault believes that it is far enough ahead of red bull that they can sever the special arrangement. That will not happen in the short term but i would suspecrt that post 2020 the engines may well chage again and if they do revert to a more simplistic form then there may well be more engine manufacturers enert the arena and the current engine builders will face far more competition. Had Bernie's threat to introduce a cheaper engine into the arena we would've seen some great racing as the challenge from new and improved V8/V10's frightened the likes of mercedes et al into agreeing a price reduction. It's a pity really that it didn't happen.

18

A few extra $100m per year on the budget wouldn't hurt either..... Without that, they will not be in a position to challenge the factory teams, Paddy or not.

19

go court Toyota or maybe Mitsubishi, Honda's ours dude... Mercedes can keep their PU for $100mil of Honda money every year.

20

If what you say is true, Red Bull can't compete with either Ferrari or Mercedes as they have a customer engine? I think it's much more complicated than that.

21

I think this was a good move. I felt bad for Paddy in the Abu Dabhi. It may have been humiliating. Or not, i dont know.

"This is Paddy. We need you to pick up the pace to win this race."

Hamilton: "Paddy I am actually in the lead right now I’m quite comfortable here."

What other would have answered:

Vettel: "Honestly, what are we doing? Racing or ping pong?"
Alonso: "“Arrgggh! Arrgggh! Arrgggh!”
Verstappen: "I’m driving like a grandma."

Pick any radio message from Kimi

22

Personally i think that Paddy, if he hadn't already made up his mind to leave, surely did then when hamilton ignored what he was told to do. It was deeply embarrassing for Paddy and i feel as though once his authority was trashed he had no qualms in 'snatching his rent'. Watching Wolff grovel was quite sickening really...'There'll be no anarchy in the team'...What a joke that all was .

23

Kenneth, that's a lie and you know it. Had you watched the autosport awards, Paddy said it wasn't him who gave the order. In fact, he thought was in bad taste. The order was given by toto wolff.
Furthermore, Mark Hughes wrote extensively on the reasons for leaving mercedes. Which according to him, hinged on wanting team ownership, something wolff refused, especially knowing James Allison was available.
If Hamilton's musing offended Lowe, he'd have left mclaren in 2007.

24

Kenneth, the Lowe to Williams deal was done long before Abu Dhabi.

25

@ KRB..Did you read my first line? Anyway, seeing as you know it all what's the point really. Your comment was superfluous.

26

OOOOPs...my mistake KRB..sorry about that. Must've been subliminal. Content though remains the same.

27

Great post,very funny.
I suspect that Paddy didn't actually want to talk to Lewis at all and was perhaps ordered to by toto wolf. I also suspect that this was the final straw for Paddy and was fed up of being bossed around.

28

A thing I've encountered in business quite a bit is that it doesn't matter if you know full well someone's going to say no, there's still value in making them actually say it. If you never ask, you can't later say "well we asked you to do that and we told you why it was important, but you said no."

29

@ Kenny C....It's always good to have these kinda things on the record. What i feel was demeaning was when wolff ultimately grovelled his way back into hamilton's affections. That was even worse than Horner's back off on vettel's refusal to honour his agreement with mark webber and the team. Unknown until much later was vettel's threat to sue Red Bull if they took any actions against him for breaking his word. In wolff's case it was simply spineless. Hamilton now runs that team...obviously.

30

Kenneth, I've been lurking this forums for quite a number of years and one thing remains constant; your disdain for Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton. Pray tell, what has done to offend you so. At least, Sebee states his hatred for anything other than v10's. What's your deal?

31

If that was the situation, it must have felt even worse.

32

Best wishes to Williams and Paddy Lowe for a successful season which returns Williams to it's roots and former status on the grid over the next few seasons. The experience, dedication and ability he carries should provide the benefits anticipated.

33

Best wishes to Paddy and everyone at Williams. Hopefully they address some of the engineering deficits of the last few yesrs and develop a car that can compete at all circuits and in the wet.

34

Paddy Lowe is unlikely to agree that very quick pit stops alone are sufficient for a winning strategy.

35

Especially when they're a little *too* quick...

36

thy seem to be thinking long term doing a refresh with people that have a current track record of good work so sounds good to me.
People will gob on about radio messages from last year but its all a bit bizarre that a
senior technical bloke is coming on the radio anyway. Maybe helped him make the move.

37

This is a good development for the sport.
I think Paddy is aiming for full team principal, and he should be announced during this season, though maybe past the summer.
I'd enjoy seeing Williams on the top again.
Who was the last Williams World Champion?

38

Villeneuve. And their last race winner was Pastor Maldonado.

39

Damon Hill I reckon, '96.

40

Villeneuve no? Too long for a team like Williams. Marc

41

Yes, my mistake, and agreed, far too long 🙂

42

Lets face facts, having Paddy on your team cannot be a bad thing especially when you are currently ranked in fifth position. As Paddy will be a shareholder too it shows significant commitment on his part, and should help financially.

Paddy has been a part of and contributor to a huge amount of F1 successes at m
Macca & Merc, to say nothing of his previous stint at Williams. Its obvious that his knowledge and skills will help the fairly dire state of Williams F1 team, and maybe he will become the team leader - sorry Claire but you have had a long stretch with minimal results...

Now can he convince Alonso to sign for 2017/ 8?

43

Depends how PL came to be a shareholder. If it was gifted to him or it was given to him for cents on the dollar, that incentive of having skin in the game is fake. If he bought in significantly at market with his own money, I'd be impressed. But I highly doubt that's the case.

Gifted options on or near the money is another joke, on the current shareholders anyway.

44

The only problem they face is running a customer mercedes engine.

I'm glad an article on Lowe has come up. I'm always around F1 and this blog, but I'm not knowledgable like some. Hence the occasional questions. I'd been wondering whether Lowe's leaving the team to go to Williams was completely voluntary. Did he feel a shove or maybe a 'being reduced in importance' which brought him to leave? Of course, becoming a shareholder is important.

As an aside Kenneth wrote "The only problem they face is running a customer mercedes engine. " I think he's right. When is the last time a customer engine won a championship? Red Bull? But were they a customer? Too many cars on the grid do not have a hope in hell of winning.

45

Red Bull weren't really a customer during their championship winning period, they had Renault running around after them in terms of their blown diffuser etc so were definitely considered a manufacturer.

Were Brawn a customer is 2009? I think at that point in time MacLaren had refused to be taken over fully by Merc and they were shopping for a team to buy (ala Brawn). At that point there was very little engine development and the various engines were producing very simple power levels.

In the current engine formula Mercedes has shown they have so many hidden settings which can provide additional power, they would never offer these to their customers.

46

@Vanilla Bear, Why do people think that mercedes somehow has PU settings that their customers don't have access to. That is highly improbable and obviously illegal. Mercedes provides the same hardware, software and lubricants to all customers and its works team.
Nobody accuses renault of the same, or maybe they want RBR to beat the works team.

47

@ Vanilla Bear...I think that you'll find that Red Bull were in fact a 'customer' with renault when they won their WC's. The fact that they did work together closely was a plus as well as it was in both interests that they do so. It was more like an arrangement of 'friends with benefits'.

48

"In the current engine formula Mercedes has shown they have so many hidden settings which can provide additional power, they would never offer these to their customers."

I'm not sure if that true or not, but if it is true I don't get it. From a Mercedes marketing point of view would it be better to have:

Mercedes-Mercedes
Red Bull-Tag Heuer/Renault
Ferrari-Ferrari

or:

Mercedes-Mercedes
Force India-Mercedes
Williams-Mercedes

If they could maybe bump up their customer teams so that the top three slots in the WCC were all Mercedes, why wouldn't they? 😐

49

@ Random....as far back as two or more years it was a known fact that the mercedes engineers, that are embedded with the customer teams, control the usage of the 'go fast' buttons...not the team! Besides that the teams never know whether or not they have the very latest iterations as 'they' never get to see the mercedes data sheets from the factory team.

50

I thought there was an amendment made to the regs that stated that customers must have the same version PU as the manufacturer... or did I make dream that?

Williams decided not to take on the latest Merc PU toward the end of last season due to the reliability issues the Merc had.

51

Granted Mercedes keep it close to their sleeves, but I still don't understand the logic of effectively handicapping their customer teams.

52

@ random....A company like Mercedes would rather chew their own arm off than let a competitor with their engine beat them. They may be tempted if the engine was 'branded' with another name like the red bull arrangement though.

53

My gut is this is primarily a financial move on Lowe's part. I don't believe he was able to get an ownership stake at Mercedes similar to those held by Wolfe and Lauda, and hence his only move was to go to another team to realize that goal. Add in the alignment of the stars of Allison's availability, and Rosberg's retirement, and this was the logical outcome. As a supporter of Williams, I hope it works out for all the parties involved.

54

Is there a real possibility that Allison might also join the 'team' being assembled at Williams? Would seem a significant strengthening of their roster, should that become fact.

55

Future home to Fernando? The technical build-up at Williams is impressive and it has the best PU in the business.

56

Wouldn't rule it out. If Honda don't get it together and Alonso wants to leave, he's not going to go back to Ferrari, Mercedes aren't going to jump at the chance (unless something goes horribly wrong with Bottas) and Red Bull's driver lineup looks fixed for the next few years at least. If Williams are scoring regular podiums, they could be Fernando's best bet.

57

I wouldn't put it out as being impossible for alonso to return to Ferrari. If they have the car and kimi becomes surplus then it is always possible.

58

According to Andrew Benson of the BBC, Paddy Lowe -

"... was put on gardening leave by Mercedes this winter after a difference of opinion with F1 boss Toto Wolff about the future direction of the team..."

We can only guess at what direction Lowe wanted and why Tonto didn't agree with him. As Tonto is only a front man for the team, I expect it had more to do with James Allison joining Mercedes.

Without knowing what Lowe has actually been doing at Mercedes and McLaren, it's difficult for an outsider to know how good he is. Is Lowe an organiser or an ideas man? What has he added to the car since he arrived?

59

Unlikely Paddy was on Gardening leave. Too short a duration. Normally its close to a year. Unfortunately, with Nico dropping his unexpected retirement, williams was about to negotiate Lowe's appointed ASAP for bottas/PU discount and $

60

Interesting that Claire Williams talked about wanting to win races and championships. In some of her previous interviews she said how proud she was of Williams as small independent team. Does this mean Williams has finally got its mojo back and wants to repeat the successes of the eighties and nineties, I hope so.

61

This can only be positive for Williams as Paddy can pass on some Merc info but unfortunately have 2 weak drivers

62

I don't think the drivers are as bad as all that. I don't think Stroll is ready, but I do think he's probably quite quick. Massa looked like a spent force last year, but I've a feeling he'll surprise a few people with his last hurrah.

63

Am tipping stroll to be next maldonado and Massa is well just past it but you cannot really blame them for stroll as his father made them an offer they couldn"t refuse.At least he will provide some entertainment.I will only be too happy to be proven wrong and will be the first to eat humble pie cause was a huge Williams fan from 80 to 15 when they stuck with 2boring drivers when they had a chance to snag an A grader after good results in 14.Also think claire has brought nothing to the team except nepotism but what do I know

64

Probably a good move for all concerned. With Allison available and his contract coming to an end, Mercedes probably viewed it as a good opportunity to jettison a lot of the tension between Hamilton and the management. Williams get a technical leader with an outstanding track record, filling a position they've struggled to adequately occupy for a long time.

65

I think it is great to see Paddy Lowe rejoin Williams as they are a great team and deserve to be up there fighting for the championship, it's time to see another team at the front.

66

new car better suitable for massa + paddy + mercedes engine.... man I think they can dream...

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