Paddy Lowe, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Williams confirm Lowe will not return to team

2019 F1 season

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Former Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, who took a leave of absence from the struggling outfit three months ago, will not return to the team.

The team announced on Tuesday Lowe “will be leaving Williams and will step down from the board of directors with immediate effect”.

“After a period of careful reflection I have reached the decision that I will not return to work at Williams,” said Lowe.

“I wish all my previous colleagues the very best to meet the challenges ahead, which I am sure they will do. I would especially like to thank the Williams fans who are so supportive.”

Lowe joined Williams from Mercedes in 2017. The team suffered a poor 2018 season and made a troubled start this year when its new car was not completed in time for the first day of testing. Lowe took a leave of absence before the first race of the season, and the team has consistently raced at the back of the field, often more than a second per lap off the next-slowest car.

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams said the team “understand and respect the decision Paddy has reached and wish him well for the future.”

The team has lost several major figures from its technical team since the beginning of last year. Chief designer Ed Wood and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer left Williams during 2018.

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65 comments on “Williams confirm Lowe will not return to team”

  1. Looks like another ‘rat’ leaving a sinking ship

  2. Williams are in big trouble, as they have to design a completely new car for next year (probably already started), and then for 2021 which will probably have big rule changes.

    They desperately need someone like Porsche or BMW to make them a works team. Otherwise i dont see how they will leave the bottom of the grid in the next few years.

    At the moment F1 is split into 3 categories. Mercedes – Everyone else – Williams.

    1. Shame for Kubica. I think he would be competitive in the midfield. And i think he would surprise people what he could do in a race winning car.

      1. Paul Duggan
        25th June 2019, 10:53

        Vjanik, I’d like that to be true. Unfortunately the available evidence doesn’t support that review. In fact, it does the opposite.

        1. Indeed. That statement is almost certainly accurate for Russell though.

      2. Kubica is not even competitive with his team mate. Beat him for the first time this weekend, and that was with Russell battling with a damaged car.

      3. Based on what? He’s been terrible and far off the pace of Russell. He shouldn’t be in F1.

      4. @vjanik

        It hurts me to say so… but so far, Kubica is looking like the slowest driver on the grid. He’s just a shadow of the driver he used to be. It’s commendable that he made it back to F1.. but that’s where the dream should end for him.

  3. Paul Duggan
    25th June 2019, 10:55

    Broadly true, but there is another category that has Ferrari and Red Bull (the one driven by Max anyway) in it. Not really fair to lump them in with ‘everyone else’ when there is a significant gap there.

  4. DAllein (@)
    25th June 2019, 11:13

    So, it is like WEC)))
    Toyota LMP1 – rest of LMP1 – LMP2 – LMGTE Pro

    Though Williams is probably closer to LMGTE AM

    1. DAllein (@)
      25th June 2019, 11:23

      It was supposed to be a reply to Paul Duggan

  5. Luke S (@joeypropane)
    25th June 2019, 12:11

    The biggest concern in this story is the decision of Ed Wood’s parents to give him such a ridiculous name…

  6. Negotiations on severance are clearly completed and a deal done. Complicated by Lowe having shares in the team and needing a gap from departure to final termination of the relationship to give some dignity in the departure.

    1. Witan, I believe that Lowe was offered the option to take a stake in the team, but he did not take that offer up and therefore does not own any shares in the team (at least, I believe that Dieter has posted in the past that was the case).

  7. “understand and respect the decision Paddy has reached and wish him well for the future.” – this is beyond corporate talk, it’s downright bending the truth if you ask me.

    It’s quite obvious for anyone who follows F1 closely that Paddy was actually sacked and it was not his decision to leave. I am not questioning why he was fired, he absolutely deserved that (although I’m sure Claire has to be part of the blame), but I just don’t get why Williams needed to sugarcoat it: did they not want to ruin Paddy’s carreer in F1? cause i’d think it’s already late for that.

    1. @gechichan he had shares in the team. Terminations are rarely carried out in bad faith in such scenarios.

    2. @gechichan – in white collar jobs, even when someone is fired (due to restructuring, failure to meet targets, etc.), it is often the case that they are asked to tender their resignation*. As much as F1 and motorsport is a small pool of personnel (i.e. they’ll know reasonably well why he left), I’m sure Williams are following the wider corporate norm.

      * The exceptions will be firing due to gross misconduct such as misbehaviour, drunkenness, theft, sabotage, etc.

      1. They fire people for drunkenness? I couldn’t face another day in the taxi without a bottle to calm my nerves.

        1. @juan-fanger: LOL! At least until I need to hail your cab.

      2. @phylyp & RB13: I get what you both are saying, that high-level corporate layoffs are usually sugarcoated, but I was thinking that this was the perfect time for Williams to make a display of force and show they are really re-structuring in a major way. That they are not afraid of making bold moves in order to get the ship pointing in the right direction again. That would be a lot more interesting to shareholders than looking like an amiable company with English politeness.
        Otherwise, on the face of it, this whole deal just looks like they lost another important engineer and they are left for dead by everyone worth having in F1.

    3. It’s just ordinary English politeness. Offer him a job sweeping the floors so he can turn it down and truthfully say he chose not to return to the team.

  8. I was listening to Mark Webber absolutely ripping the culture at Williams in his autobiography this morning, comes as no surprise with the regularity of news like this coming out of Grove. Williams are absolutely lifeless.

    1. @alec-glen How can you listen to a book? You read a book, not listen to it, LOL.

      1. @alec-glen How can you listen to a book? You read a book, not listen to it, LOL.

        Audio book maybe?

        1. @jerejj He also didn’t say “book”.

        2. @georgetuk @justrhysism @alec-glen Of course, how silly of me. I’m aware (and have been for some time) of this audiobook-thing but just didn’t think of this option at first.

          1. I, too, am vaguely aware of this ridiculousness, audio-books. Whatever nonsense.

      2. @jerejj Yeah as the others stated, I’m listening to the audiobook!

    2. And in addition @alec-glen, I recently heard Nico Rosberg (I think in his youtube podcast that talks with Toto, but not sure) recount a time when he said the atmosphere at Williams was quite brutal, with him being told, I think early on in his rookie-season (so around the time when Webber was there too, right?), at the end of a race weekend “you were useless to us here” – I mean, not sure what the result was, but that’s never a helpful, constructive way to criticize anyone.

      1. @bosyber Yeah they were teammates. Mark got a right dressing down from Frank and Patrick midway through his first season where they even said something like “we’ve got you for another year but if we can find a way to get someone else we will”. Mark went on to say that he’s not found anyone since that’s ever said they enjoy being at Williams.

        1. Ugh @alec-glen – I guess that does help explain why they kept their downwards path going so solidly for so long (since 2005, or even 1999?).

          I fear Jon Bee below is quite right about where the core of the issue comes from. Sometimes legends need to move on (see Ron Dennis, for example).

          1. @bosyber Yeah to quote Webber again he said that “if Frank/Patrick were 5% off the top that translated to 30% off in senior management and worse for the guys on the factory floor”. Hard to say how long it’s gone on for as even a broken clock is right twice a day and sometimes they’ve had engine partners that have flattered their cars.

            It’s telling that, regardless of what you think of their talents, people who have seen what good looks like in Paddy, Rob Smedley etc have gone in there and got out as soon as is reasonably acceptable.

      2. @bosyber It was his podcast with Ricciardo (presumably) filmed before the Monaco GP.

        1. Ah, that makes sense @jerejj, thanks

    3. More than 10 years ago. I don’t think the same people are in charge now, so the comparison is irrelevant.

      1. Ultimately the same person is running Williams as 30 years ago. The culture at Williams is awful. I recently read a comment on Glassdoor from a shopfloor worker who was expected to work overtime for no pay. Staff turnover is high, both at the top and bottom of the company.

  9. He was a disaster there anyway.
    Things started to fall apart with last years car and its falty aero.

    Now the harm is already done with stroll gone.

  10. Unpopular opinion

    Paddy Lowe is the engineer equivalent of Jenson Button. Yes they both made it, neither of them know exactly how

    1. Rosberg and Button are the best examples of “remain on the table” strategy.
      Although they end up in top teams, very few people would bet on them to be a world champions.
      They spent their careers essentially going nowhere but not going back and pulled a title from the proverbial hat.

      1. Rosberg? I didn’t like this guy, even now I don’t like him, and it’s my personal preference, no one cares. But he was good, really good. Lewis hated him because he was really good, both in racing and mind games, and especially in qualifying. He was not as good as Lewis though but it was close.

        Looking at Bottas you can say Bottas and Jenson are average. But Rosberg is hard working guy. His video blogs are not helping his reputation though.

        1. Give over on the ‘mind games’. Rosberg ran away once he’d won the WDC, because he was unable to keep up with Lewis Hamilton’s never ending desire to win and hard work to get those wins. Despite what Rosberg and others continually repeat, it wasn’t mind games that won the WDC, it was car reliability that lost Lewis Hamilton a hatfull of points, especially losing the win in Malaysia.

          1. he ran away because it was draining him of all desire to race anymore. It was too much to do it again against Lewis, another season of forcing himself to be at 110% of his abilities. Lewis, on the other hand, is such a natural talent that it comes easier for him (I’m sure it’s not easy for him either, but he’s exceptionally talented and can achieve the same focus and drive without digging so deep).
            I actually respect Nico for what he did, I don’t find this for a second a cowardly move. He knew he wasn’t as good as other F1 legends, winning record breaking no. of titles wasn’t on the table, so why continue?

          2. Well said @gechichan, I think Rosberg gave it his all that year, reached the goal he set himself, and rewarded himself and his family by going in a different, more easy going, path where he’d have time to enjoy life.

        2. I think Rosberg learnt a lot about mind games from his time with Schumacher: the master of mind-games.

          Rosberg was fast, and a very good driver – and he was able to beat Lewis, but he demonstrated the inordinate amount of effort required to do so; and ultimately it’s just not sustainable. Hence, he retired. Who could blame him? He knew he was at his pinnacle; he would’ve been exhausted; and probably wanted to spend time with his family (which Lewis doesn’t have). Smart decision to quit whilst he was on top if you ask me.

          Bottas is a great driver, and super-quick, he can also beat Lewis on his day – but it’s exactly that; “on his day”. Not everyday. Lewis has “his day” far more often than arguably any other driver on the grid.

          All this demonstrates that Lewis is beatable, but to do so you had better dedicate your life to it; and even then it’s not going to come easy.

          1. @justrhysism well said; and also agree with the bit about Schumacher;

            I think Rosberg learnt a lot about mind games from his time with Schumacher: the master of mind-games.

            that’s one reason why I find Rosberg’s blog interesting – the more loose ‘beyond the grid’ things with drivers and (ex) teambosses, even Bernie, often give interesting insights.

            Found it quite amazing insight about Schumacher locking himself in the toilet from a bit before 10 min to 2 min ahead of a session, because he knew Rosberg always went there 5min before the session – purely to unsettle him ‘it just came naturally to Michael’ (by the time Rosberg had him as teammate anyway)- imagine having to work against that as freshman in the team; and the implication, that sort of stuff is what Rosberg made himself think out to unsettle Hamilton, all in effort to win that WDC.

            I was reminded of that by the Hulkenberg ‘beyond the grid’, where he said Barichello was much like that, (though less extreme maybe) in Hulk’s rookie year, guess he learned it from the master. … And perhaps Button learned from Barrichello too, and that’s why he unsettled Hamilton at McLaren.

            And, speculation, maybe that’s part of the reason Hamilton hated it so much from Rosberg@Mercedes. I really think at the end he didn’t feel comfortable at McLaren anymore, imagine him going to his new team, superfast car, but you find your old pal/friend is doing that stuff to you there too! (Not saying HAM is beyond that sort of games, though he seems to be so obvious at it that I don’t know if it works!)

        3. First this audio-book thing, now what you say? A video-blog?

      2. Yeah, I’m with Turbo here, Rosberg was proper good, diminishing him is diminishing Hamilton, and that’s not fair for both of them

    2. Don frika del prima
      25th June 2019, 17:12

      I can’t believe it took this long for the paddy bubble to burst.

    3. Mark in Florida
      25th June 2019, 18:02

      Ha! Perfect analogy. Paddy is a rather pathetic figure. The problems with Williams is endemic and system wide. It’s not just in one area like the aero, it’s every area in the team. The different departments don’t seem to have any communication with each other. Very sad state of affairs for such a legendary team.

  11. Sam Donaldson from ABC News
    26th June 2019, 0:39

    That check button to “Remember Me” is as good as tits on a bull.

    1. I know – incredibly frustrating to have to login constantly.

      @keithcollantine – I see that the authentication cookie is set to expire after a week… can you please increase this? At least monthly… preferably longer. Across the five separate devices I use daily, I find myself logging in many times per week!

      1. @justrhysism

        Glad I’m not the only one that thinks this, I’d rather deal with ads than the constant logins. It’s definitely a barrier to commenting.

        1. Or at least do what other blogs, for instance Hoodinkee lets you login right from the comment box, you don’t lose your comment or where you are on the page. Simple. I’m sure there’s a WP plugin for that.

      2. Hm, I thought it was something in my generally restrictive cookie-settings @justrhysism, @alec-glen, even though I think I gave (and f1fanatic) full trust; glad someone else brought it up!

        Yes, maybe a monthly setting would be good.

  12. Raymondu999
    26th June 2019, 4:39

    Where to next, I wonder.

    I feel like Mattia Binotto is actively looking for a TD replacement for his old role; perhaps Paddy Lowe could be added to the list? Rumors had it Simone Resta was already contacted by Binotto to take up the TD role so Binotto could focus on being TP. M

    1. Paul Duggan
      26th June 2019, 8:04

      I don’t believe that Ferrari are the slightest bit interested in Paddy. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Paddy is a superb engineer with nothing to prove. There is and was no ‘Paddy bubble’. Paddy is quality and the championships won at Merc can’t be argued with. In the end though (and it hurts to say this) it doesn’t matter who is TD at Williams because the organisation is not up to the standard required to succeed in modern F1. Engineering talent on its own isn’t enough and when you look at the standards set by the top teams in every aspect of their organisations and culture and the gulf between that and Williams you can see why they’re just not coming back, barring a tie-up with a manufacturer. It’s not even just the lack of budget, I mean that doesn’t help, but you don’t fail to turn up to a test with a car because you don’t have the budget. Clearly they do have a budget to test and go racing and they can cut their cloth as required. What they don’t have is an organisation that can deliver.

  13. “No coat tails to ride on here!”

  14. The problem is, and had always been…Claire, she has destroyed the team!

    1. Paul Duggan
      26th June 2019, 14:25

      Appropriate user name since that’s simply not true. Things were not great when she took over. The problem is Frank. The buck stops with Frank and he has not evolved the organisation and approach over time. What worked in the 80’s & 90’s does not work against operators like Mercedes and Red Bull today and he has failed to adapt to that. Claire follows Frank’s philosophy and Frank clearly likes that or he would have fired her by now. I haven’t read Parr’s book but I feel he could have made Williams a modern force. After he left they were consigned to…well…this.

  15. I wouldn’t put Paddy in the top tier of technical chiefs such as Newey and Allison.. but there’s no way that he’s been really poor. He build a dominant Mercedes car and has some good cars to talk about during his Mclaren days. In fact, I would rate him higher than Pat Fry.

    I think things just didn’t click for him at Williams. Heck, he’s been used to working at Mclaren during their glory days and Mercedes recently. There’s a certain infrastructure, and organisational capabilities, that he must have gotten used to working within. Sending him to cash strapped Williams with Stroll as the experienced driver was never an easy task.

    In short, I don’t think Paddy has lost his talent. He’s definitely good enough to work for a midfield team. Maybe a Sauber or Toro Rosso should look in to hiring him. Maybe back to Mclaren?

  16. Time for Williams to retire knowing they were a force in F1 for many years. Clearly not a good way to end a fantastic tenure but let’s not drag it out any longer.

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