Toto Wolff leaves ex-F1 star perplexed over engineer departure

Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November

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Vitaly Petrov is baffled that Toto Wolff let key engineer James Vowles walk out of Mercedes ahead of the new season. The ex-Renault F1 star warned he would “never” have let Vowles leave the manufacturer if he was in charge.

The Russian also warned the Silver Arrows’ season could balance on how they replace Vowles who has been a vital member in their eight Constructors’ Championship victories. He explained to Speedweek: “Now everything will depend on how Mercedes solves the problems with the car and how they replace such a man.

“Honestly, I would never have let him go.” Vowles leaves his role as strategy director at the German marque to become team principal at Williams.

Vowles will pair up with the British manufacturer in February ahead of the start of pre-season testing. It comes after Williams parted ways with ex-boss Jost Capito at the end of last season.

Petrov added: “Of course, I understand that it is sometimes not possible to keep a man in the same position for a long time. Because there are simply employees who are looking for a fresh job, and that is not a question of money either. From Vowles’ point of view, I can understand the situation.”

Vowles has been working at the Brackley base for most of his career after enjoying stints at British American Racing and Honda. He was promoted to race strategist at Brawn GP in 2009 to guide the team to championship glory in their debut season.

Mercedes took over Brawn in 2010 and has slowly climbed the ranks to become a valuable member of the team.

Wolff and new Williams boss Vowles share same view on ‘mini-Mercedes’ [COMMENT]
James Vowles spills beans on Lewis Hamilton call over Mercedes exit [INSIGHT]
Hamilton and Wolff spoke about Vowles before his Mercedes exit [ANALYSIS]

Red Bull boss Helmut Marko has since claimed the mood at Mercedes is “tense” after Vowles’ exit. Wolff praised Vowles for playing an “integral part” in the team’s success and admitted he was sad to say goodbye.

The Mercedes team principal has since admitted Vowles’ exit came as a “surprise” but said he did have suspicions that the 43-year-old was after a promotion. He told Speedweek: “It came as a surprise

“Having said that he is someone who always had this sort of goal in mind, and here (at Mercedes) such a promotion is currently blocked by me. James is a very intelligent and rational player, so we let him out of the contract. It’s good for Formula One as a whole if a man like that makes decisions at Williams.”

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