In a move that will surprise few people, Paddy Lowe Williams Racing’s Chief Technical Officer has taken a ‘leave of absence’ from the Williams F1 team citing personal reasons.
If the seemingly temporary (at least for the time being – likely to become permanent) move comes as little surprise, the boldness of the timing – a little over a week before the start of the 2019 Formula 1 season – is quite a shock.
One has to assume that, given Lowe’s comments earlier in the week about his assuredness in his position, that Lowe, also a Williams shareholder was ushered out by William’ senior management, and that his return is highly unlikely.
It was long established that Lowe would live or die by the performance of his second car, the 2019 Williams FW42 after an absolutely catastrophic 2018 car, and it seems that the top bods at Williams have seen enough of this year’s car to have sealed Lowe’s demise.
Rumours of discontent behind the scenes along with haphazard restructuring which allegedly contributed at least in part to Williams’ late arrival to pre-season testing, earlier prompted a disgruntled Robert Kubica to publicly voice his discontent.
But his frustrations were bizarrely dismissed earlier this week by Lowe himself who claimed Kubica’s feedback in private was wholly positive and that furthermore he had no immediate concerns about his own position at Williams.
So more upheaval at Williams when everyone was hoping for a period of stability.
Worse still, it’s unlikely Lowe would be stepping away (stepping/being pushed) if the FW42 was a world beater and so all the signs point to another difficult season for the beleaguered giants.
One wonders if there’s more disruption to come when the stewards in Australia rule on Williams’ funky new mirrors and their unconventional front wishbones that appear to be sailing close to illegality and if that wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back.