“There is no void left” - Mercedes honcho Toto Wolff ‘prepared’ for setbacks like losing James Vowles
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has confidently stated that his team is 'always prepared' for the loss of talented personnel, the latest being James Vowles, the head of strategy.
After nearly 20 years at Brackley, Vowles joined Williams Racing as their team principal heading into the 2023 season. This follows Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes AMG’s High Performance Powertrains, leaving the team in 2020 and technical director James Allison stepping away from day-to-day responsibilities in 2021.
Wolff doesn't see losing key personnel as a negative. Instead, he believes that it shows the strength of the operation at Mercedes.
In a conversation with various media outlets, he said (via RacingNews365):
"As an organization you always have to be prepared to lose members. We've seen more people leave and leave an open position or join another team. To me that's just proof that we're evolving and working with capable people."
The Austrian revealed that he and his team had a succession plan for Vowles in place. He said:
"There is no void left, however, as we have been discussing succession planning in this area for years. We have always been very dependent on James' capabilities and we set out a few years ago how that would progress if he decided to do something different. going to do within Mercedes or beyond."
"We have 90 people, some of whom are very experienced, but not always at the forefront, and others have also grown within the organization. Over the past six months they have taken the helm - and before that under the supervision of James. I am very comfortable with the infrastructure for the future and do not believe that a weak spot has suddenly emerged."
Toto Wolff open to James Vowles' return to Mercedes in the future
Toto Wolff does not hold a grudge against James Vowles for leaving Mercedes and has stated that he would be happy to welcome the Brit back to the team in the future.
"Never say never because he is great. I hope that he is going to have a long career as team principal at Williams and hopefully, we see him in the press conferences after successful weekends. He could have a 10-year stint there. You just need to let the bird fly out and do his own thing, and not at that stage anticipating that he is going to come back."