James Vowles accused of taking ‘good engineers’ to Williams

Mercedes will be hoping to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari for the championship this season, but there are reportedly tensions at the team.

There has been a lot of change in the paddock ahead of the 2023 season, with drivers, engineers and team principals all making moves between teams.

Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, McLaren and Williams will all have a new team principal leading them this season and new Williams boss James Vowles is the most recent of these appointments.

The Brit has been working as Mercedes’ strategic director ever since they entered the sport in 2010, making him one of the longest serving members of staff at the team.

Some pundits have questioned the decision to allow Vowles to leave, suggesting that he is a key member of staff who must be immediately replaced, should Mercedes wish to keep their usual high levels of performance.

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Red Bull chief advisor Helmut Marko has now claimed that there is tension in the Mercedes camp, as Volwe’s exit will see a number of his favoured engineers jump ship to follow him to Williams.

“Vowles went of his own accord and – so it is said – even takes good engineers with him,” said the Austrian.

“My sources tell me that’s why the mood at Mercedes is so tense.

“I still believe that Mercedes will be our biggest challenger when it comes to defending our title.”

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While it would be understandable for the Mercedes camp to be tense following the exit of such a key member of staff, the comments made by Marko should be taken with a pinch of salt due to his ties to Red Bull, Mercedes’ biggest rival.

READ: Mercedes dismiss ‘wild’ Lewis Hamilton rumour

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been quick to deny suggestions that his team will be worse off without Vowles, explaining that the strategy team below the Brit have been becoming more and more independent in recent years in preparation for if they ever need to step up.

The Austrian also explained that he likes to empower his staff and give them responsibility, hence why he will be leaving the technical and strategic departments to thrive rather than “meddling” with their operations.

The Silver Arrows will hope that this rumoured tension does not affect their pre-season, as F1 travels to Bahrain in only a month, showing the teams whether all of their hard work over the winter has paid off.