Mercedes’s appetite for signing up staff from rival teams seems not to have been satisfied yet.
In the past two years the Silver Arrows have hired Aldo Costa (ex-Ferrari), Geoff Willis (HRT and previously Honda), Bob Bell (Renault) and Toto Wolff (Williams).
Their top-heavy management structure also includes Niki Lauda who was hired last September. And it is set to be further bolstered by the anticipated arrival of Paddy Lowe from McLaren.
McLaren confirmed on Monday that Lowe will leave them at the end of the year. The move that looked likely following his absence from the launch of the team’s 2013 F1 contender, the MP4-28.
Lowe is widely expected to follow ex-McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton to the Brackley-based team. Mercedes’ vision is fixed firmly on preparing for next year’s new regulations.
The move raises three questions. First, does this confirm that Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is being moved out of the picture? Mercedes have already jettisoned long-serving vice-president Norbert Haug during the off-season after scoring just one win in the last three years.
Second, what are the consequences for McLaren? In six months they’ve lost their protege and one of their top designers to Mercedes.
Having once been Mercedes’ only Formula One team their status has been diminished to the role of engine customer. Martin Whitmarsh must rue the assistance he gave Brawn in landing a supply of Mercedes engines when Honda quit the sport at the end of 2008.
And third, who will McLaren hire to replace their lost technical director? Suspicion has already fallen on Lotus technical director James Allison, though earlier this month he said he has a “long contract” with the team and “intends to honour” it.
According to McLaren, a “telephone number salary” was used to lure Lowe away. Are they prepared to do the same to replace him?
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.