‘My sources tell me’: Helmut Marko drops Mercedes rumour

James Vowles was announced as the new team principal of Williams last week.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko is under the impression that all might not be well in the Mercedes camp, following the unexpected departure of chief strategist James Vowles.

Williams announced last week that Vowles would be switching from Brackley to Grove to become the British team’s new team principal, following the resignation of Jost Capito at the end of the 2022 season.

According to Marko, it’s not just Vowles departing Mercedes, with the Brit supposedly “taking good engineers with him”.

Because of this, Marko is gauging a “tense” mood amongst the Silver Arrows, with the start of the 2023 season being just a matter of weeks away.

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Some wondered if Vowles moving to Williams would actually be a positive move for Mercedes, given that Toto Wolff was previously a shareholder and executive director of the Grove-based team.

Based on this, it has been questioned if Williams will become somewhat of a Mercedes B team, similar to the relationship between Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

This sort of relationship isn’t on the cards, according to Marko, who’s “sources” are telling him that all is not pleasant at the Germans.  

“No, I have completely different information,” Marko told Sport1.

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“Vowles went off his own accord and, so it is said, is even taking good engineers with him. My sources tell me that’s why the mood at Mercedes is so tense,” the Austrian added.

Given how important Vowles was to the Mercedes cog, Marko is questioning whether his departure will have an immediate negative impact on the Silver Arrows.

Whether Mercedes are affected by the departure of Vowles or not, Marko still sees the Brackley-based team as Red Bull’s “biggest challenger” this season, even though, plenty of noise is coming out of the Ferrari camp.

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“We’ll see,” he said. “But I still believe that Mercedes will be our biggest challenger when it comes to defending our title this year.”

Vowles isn’t taking on his new role until the British side’s 2023 launch has taken place, with his official start date being February 20.

His immediate task for the upcoming season will presumably be to ensure that the team don’t finish bottom of the Constructors’ Championship, a position they returned to in 2022.