The collective mood at the Mercedes base in Brackley has taken a sharp negative twist since James Vowles left the team to join Williams as their new team principal, according to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko. Vowles had played a pivotal role in helping Lewis Hamilton to win many of his titles over the last decade but walked away from his position as Mercedes’ chief strategist to replace Jost Capito at Williams earlier this month.
Mercedes have enjoyed a strong bond with Williams over the years and Vowles’ exit to the historic British team has led to speculation that the move could actually end up strengthening the Silver Arrows, who will be desperate to fight Red Bull for the end-of-season honours when the upcoming season gets underway. Marko believes that quite the opposite is true, though, with the outspoken 79-year-old having claimed that several other Mercedes employees could soon be following Vowles out of Brackley in the near future.
Marko told Sport1: “No, I have completely different information. Vowles went oN 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.”
Marko went on to suggest that Vowles’ departure could even have an immediate negative impact on the way things work at Mercedes, although he conceded that the Silver Arrows will likely pose the biggest threat to Red Bull’s hopes of retaining both world titles at the end of this year.
“We’ll see,” he added. “But I still believe that Mercedes will be our biggest challenger when it comes to defending our title this year.”
It remains to be seen how Mercedes will cope without Vowles, who joined their ranks in 2010 before overseeing the most successful period in the team’s history between 2014 and 2021. Hamilton has already given his blessing to Vowles after the latter’s move to Williams was confirmed earlier this year, with the seven-time champion offering his congratulations via a post on his Instagram story.
He wrote: “I am so proud and grateful to have worked with James for the past 10 years. Together we have won over 80 races and 15 titles.
“This is such a great move and I couldn’t be happier for him. We all need to change in order to progress and I’m confident that he’ll push Williams forward to being more competitive. There is nobody more deserving of this role.
“Thanks for everything James. Wishing you the best brother.”