Mercedes made a deal with McLaren to secure Paddy Lowe’s early release from the Woking team, according to reports in the British media.
On Monday, the Formula 1 team Mercedes announced that Briton Lowe will start work as executive technical director early next month.
That is a full half-year before Lowe’s contract with McLaren – where he has been serving ‘gardening leave’ from his long-term technical director duties – was due to expire.
Mercedes confirmed only that “agreement has been reached” for Lowe, 51, to start on June 3.
“There was no comment from McLaren,” said Mirror correspondent Byron Young, “but the suggestion is that the move could not have been made without their agreement.”
The Sun’s Chris Hockley agreed that Mercedes and McLaren “have done a deal”.
British broadcaster James Allen explained that McLaren’s decision to drop Mercedes as its engine supplier after 2014, paving the way for Honda, gave Mercedes “a bargaining chip” to negotiate Lowe’s early release.
On his Formula 1 blog, Allen said Mercedes is “very unhappy” about the turbo V6 data that could flow to Honda next year, “so it appears they have leveraged this situation to trigger the early release of Lowe”.
But the German newspaper Die Welt said Mercedes would also have had to pay “a handsome fee” to McLaren for Lowe’s release.
“This is speculation, and we don’t comment on that,” a Mercedes spokesman said.
Whatever the case, Mercedes is happy to have Lowe on board.
“Mercedes’ aim is to work with the best people,” Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff told the Austrian news agency APA.
“Paddy is undoubtedly a great gain for us. And it’s very gratifying that he joins us so soon.”