Lowe takes 'leave of absence' from Williams

  • 06 Mar 2019 21:34
  • comments 13
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Williams Formula 1 chief technical director Paddy Lowe is taking a "leave of absence" from the team on the eve of the start of the 2019 Formula 1 season, a Williams spokesperson has confirmed.

Lowe's position at Williams came into question following the turbulent start to its 2019 season. The Grove outfit missed the first two days of testing as it waited for the final parts to add to its car, which it then flew to Barcelona on the morning of day three of running.

During the following two days, Williams didn't manage much mileage but recovered somewhat in week two. However, drivers Robert Kubica and George Russell said that they will most likely be at the bottom of the pack as it aims to recuperate up the F1 competitive ladder.

The difficult period is a continuation of the tough 2018 season that saw Williams finish bottom of the constructors' championship with seven points to its name.

Lowe joined Williams in 2017, and the 2018 car was the first designed under his leadership. Lowe arrived from Mercedes, on the back of three consecutive world championships.

Williams did not comment on the future position of the Briton. 

Despite reports that Lowe is a Williams shareholder, GPToday.net understands that this is not the case and that Lowe's share option was never exercised. 

Replies (13)

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  • Rick F1

    Posts: 1,883

    It is hard to fire a shareholder. Claire and Paddy probably are not on speaking terms.

    • + 0
    • Mar 6 2019 - 22:41
  • Pistonhead

    Posts: 55

    It's plain to see, the issues Williams facing are technical and the buck stops with him. I have grown tired with people pointing the finger at Williams herself, she is responsible for bringing in marketing budget, managing contracts, leading the team - but if a highly paid director cannot perform the simplest of tasks - like getting a car to a starting grid after 4 months off, it's piss poor. I'm relieved this has happened, for once the right person has fallen on the sword. However, the signs cannot be good, we must all read into this another pack trailing year for Williams....I hope Im wrong.

    • + 1
    • Mar 6 2019 - 22:51
    • I think you're mostly right. The technical buck stops with him and I can't say I didn't see it coming, but I also think that anyone having the Williams surname should be taking responsibility to make sure these kinds of big errors don't happen. I think they have both failed the team.

      • + 0
      • Mar 6 2019 - 23:59
    • It's a fair assumption. But it's also clear that (1) the downward trend started and extended with Claire and (2) this is nowhere near the first proven talented technical manager to sink his career at Williams. Of course we can't blame all the technical problems on a non-technical manager. But the reality is that Claire's poor management has created an environment that consistently to leads to failures at multiple levels. Lowe was highly regarded across the paddock during his stint at Mercedes. Did he suddenly lose his ability to build good cars? I think the answer is obvious.

      • + 1
      • Mar 7 2019 - 07:11
    • The issues are not technical issues though. They are management issues. Proper management would have identified that the delays caused by the late release of aero designs were going to impact car build. The issues are not that the car doesn't work, they are that parts were not released in time for the supply chain, including in house manufacturing, to be able to get them in on time. Coupled with laying off production managers as the winter started, a complete lack of business planning and an unwillingness to adapt modern MRP/ERP systems to help manage the huge volume of components (a project has been on going since 2012 to select and implement one) and running a +£100M PA business in a "race team" fashion, still, this is absolutely a failure of the top level management, of which Plowe has had very little influence on in his short time at the company.

      • + 0
      • Mar 7 2019 - 10:27
    • Paddy Lowe can be held accountable for (not) fixing the technical issues at Williams, but not for fixing the budget or people resourcing shortages which they also must be contending with. You can't produce an inifinitely competitive car in a fixed amount of time on a limited budget. If Lowe was given less actual budget or less people to work with than he was originally promised, which is a likely "if", then the fault of not delivering the car on time doesn't lie with him.

      • + 0
      • Mar 7 2019 - 15:32
  • I still wonder how much of this is Lowe's fault, yet things do indeed look worse and worse for his case. As for Claire: she is the head of stuff. The face of the team to us, and the spider that is to pull the strings and create a nice structured web inside of it. No, she isn't directly responsible for the technical and developmental sides, but she is responsible for the people for head those roles, and considering how these last two years have been (last year wasn't very different from this year, remember), I think it's safe to say she hasn't been doing a good job as of late.

    • + 2
    • Mar 7 2019 - 02:04
    • Exactly.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that the poor aerodynamic performance of the Williams cars over the past years has been traced to a design philosophy which started to go awry years ago. This year, under Plowe, they have chosen to try to correct this fundamental flaw which, as we all know, in F1 typically takes at least the first half of a season to understand and develop from. Poor performance is almost to be expected at the start of the season and that would be the responsibility of Plowe, getting the parts in on time..... that's an issue from more than the TD.

      • + 0
      • Mar 7 2019 - 10:31
  • Vega23

    Posts: 14

    A very sad state of affairs, Paddy Lowe, Rob Smedley, Dirk de Beer and Ed Wood have all vacated top technical positions in the last 12 months. The team is in crisis.
    Did Kubica invest in securing this drive? I would be wanting my money back......
    For the sake of keeping the Williams team name on the track, they need to seriously consider some sort of B team tie up with Merc to get themselves back on track.
    Also get some independent analysis on what appears to be a severe structural management issue at Grove, be honest with themselves and make the changes necessary to stop the rot, however hard that is in what is still a family business.

    • + 0
    • Mar 7 2019 - 09:33
    • mcbhargav

      Posts: 886

      I will go ahead and say it. Claire should take a leave of absense, and allow some one with better abilities to lead the team.

      • + 1
      • Mar 7 2019 - 11:01
    • siggy74

      Posts: 64

      Rob smedley jumped a sinking ship, he knew what was on the way ;p

      3 Years of being carried by merc, and then to williams and it shows ;p, no one left to carry you at williams.. mr lowe

      • + 0
      • Mar 7 2019 - 16:30
  • denis1304

    Posts: 224

    I think he was asked to "take a hike"

    • + 0
    • Mar 7 2019 - 10:51
  • For the first race in Melbourne they could suffer another set-back because the FIA has urged them to modify the frontwheelsuspension and the mirrors (because of possible aero advantage) If they don't do that Williams could be disqualified, i read today in the Italian media.

    • + 1
    • Mar 7 2019 - 15:24

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