Allison set for Mercedes, so what next for Lowe?
Paddy Lowe’s departure hints at discord behind the scenes, but Mercedes have a plan to replace him within the coming months
Paddy Lowe, the technical author of Mercedes’ three consecutive title doubles, became the most sought-after property on the Formula 1 job market, as F1 Racing closed for press.
Lowe’s shock exit from Mercedes placed him at the centre of a tech merry-go-round, following the departure of Pat Symonds as Williams’ chief technical ofcer and the widely expected return to F1 of ex-Ferrari technical boss James Allison.
Lowe, 54, had been strongly tipped to join Williams as a replacement for Symonds, but F1 Racing understands no agreement has yet been reached. Williams have courted Lowe for months to take up a role more senior than Symonds’. At Mercedes, Lowe was de facto joint team boss alongside Toto Wolff – a situation that may have been instrumental in his departure.
Symonds, meanwhile, had been seeking a new three-year deal after his contract nished at the end of 2016. He had been offered a single-season contract, which he initially refused but then went on to accept, only to nd himself undermined by the decision to sell Bottas to Mercedes and target Lowe. Symonds only became aware of Williams’ move for Lowe when news of a putative deal broke in the media. He left the team on the Tuesday before Christmas.
Williams’ interest in Lowe is not linked with the deal that will take Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes in 2017, but the reasons behind Lowe’s departure are unclear. It is understood his contract was moving from a four-year lock-in to a standard staff contract with a notice period, but it seems the size of his earnings – he took home in the region of £3m in 2015 and 2016 once bonuses were included – was becoming a problem. Insiders have also hinted that behind the scenes he had started to act beyond his remit.
Mercedes have lined up former Ferrari technical director James Allison as Lowe’s replacement. Allison, 48, will join the team in the late spring/early summer, as soon as his gardening leave from the Scuderia is over.
His precise job title is not known, but he is likely to have less contractual seniority than Lowe’s position of executive director (technical).