LOWE TO WILLIAMS
Paddy Lowe, the architect of Williams active suspension in the 1990s, will return as a shareholder and technical boss
Paddy Lowe is returning to Williams, the team where his Formula 1 career began in the late 1980s, after he was forced out of his role as executive director (technical) at Mercedes.
Lowe, 54, had been placed on gardening leave as F1 Racing went to press, but it was understood that he will report for work at Grove on 1 March 2017. It was one of the stipulations of Williams’ agreement to release Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes (see p20) that Lowe be released to work for them immediately if they could agree a deal with him. Talks between Lowe and Williams had been dragging on, however, as the two sides struggled to reach an agreement on terms.
Insiders have claimed that Lowe will become a shareholder as part of a contract in which he will take overall technical control of the company – the Advanced Engineering business – as well as the F1 team. He will also become a nonexecutive director and board member.
The exact mechanisms for that to take place, his specific job title and the financial package he requires, have been taking some time to sort out. Sources say Lowe had been asking for a remuneration that matches the £3m annual earnings he achieved at Mercedes, which included success bonuses.
It seems that Lowe will take over at least some of the nine per cent shareholding of Williams co-founder Sir Patrick Head, perhaps aided by a loan from Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll, who has sourced major sponsorship funding for the team as part of his son Lance’s new contract as one of their 2017 drivers.
The circumstances behind Lowe’s departure from Mercedes are shrouded in mystery, but it seems that it was not his decision to leave. Lowe and team boss Toto Wolff are understood to have fallen out, with the suggestion being that Wolff had become unhappy about Lowe’s earnings and level of seniority.
Lowe will be replaced at Mercedes by former Ferrari technical director James Allison, although that move has yet to be officially confirmed. Allison, 48, is on gardening leave following his split from Ferrari last July, and is expected to start work at Mercedes this summer.
Paddy Lowe is leaving Mercedes and is expected to start working for Williams on 1 March 2017