Formula 1

Internal restructuring ‘a significant moment’ for Mercedes – Wolff

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Toto Wolff, James Allison - Formula 1 - Mercedes Launch 2018
Credit: Daimler AG

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team principal, Toto Wolff, has called the newly-announced restructuring in senior technical staff as a “significant moment” for the team.

In a statement released today, Mercedes confirmed several changes that will take place ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season in a move that will “see the baton handed on to the next generation of leaders” within the four-times constructors’ champions.

After seven years as head of the team’s engineering group, Aldo Costa will move to the role of technical advisor. His position will be taken by chief designer, John Owen. Mark Ellis will retire from his current status as performance director, handing over to chief vehicle dynamicist Loic Serra. Ellis will oversee Serra’s transition into the role until his planned sabbatical starts in mid-2019. It is not yet confirmed if the 54-year-old will return to Brackley for a third spell after that.

Speaking about the decision, that was met with full approval and buy-in by senior figures, Wolff believes that this is a “great opportunity” for Mercedes.

“This is a significant moment for our team and a great opportunity,” said Wolff.

“We have said many times that you cannot freeze a successful organisation; it is a dynamic structure and I am proud that we are able to hand the baton smoothly to the next generation of leaders inside the team.”

The Austrian added that Mercedes had been in talks with Costa and Ellis “for many months” regarding the most efficient and successful way to carry out the various changes and says that the pair’s legacy within the team will leave lasting effects and memories.

Costa joined Mercedes from Scuderia Ferrari in 2011 and is acknowledged as a pivotal figure in bringing the team’s technical structure together – culminating in unrivalled success in the first four seasons of Formula 1’s modern-engined era. Wolff reminisced about his experiences away from the race track with Costa, including competing in the Mille Miglia in 2017.

“We have been in discussion for many months with both Mark and Aldo about how best to implement this transition and to empower their successors,” he continued.

“They could not be more different personalities but they have both respected that difference and their legacy with Mercedes will stand test of time.

“Since the early days of 2013, Aldo and I have shared many dinners in Oxford as fellow European exiles, as well as some amazing days in the car at the Mille Miglia last year.

“I have got to know not just an outstanding individual but also somebody who has taught me so much about Formula 1 and the humility it takes in order to be successful.”

Ellis initially worked with BAR, before spending six years with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. After winning four successive double-titles with Red Bull, the 54-year-old returned to Brackley in 2014, helping Mercedes match Red Bull’s achievements.

With Mark, when we first met we could never have imagined the success we would achieve together,” Wolff recalled.

“He has been a sparring partner in the truest sense of the word – and I will miss our ‘tough love’ discussions with their shared passion for our team and driven by the ultimate will to win.

“Mark and Aldo have both helped to shape the timing and manner of these changes, and the Team’s future is very bright with John, Loic and our entire technical leadership working under James [Allison, technical director’s] direction.”

Mercedes face the possibility of failing to win either the Drivers’ or Constructors’ crowns for the first time since 2013. After ten rounds of the 21-race 2018 championship, the team trails Ferrari by 20 points and leading driver Lewis Hamilton stands eight points adrift of Sebastian Vettel, following the German’s win at the British Grand Prix last weekend.

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