The reigning Formula 1 champion team Mercedes has announced some key changes in its technical department from the 2019 season.
The big change sees Aldo Costa move away from his Engineering Directorial role to a Technical Advisor from the 2019 season as he wishes to spend more time with his family in Italy.
The 57-year-old will be replaced by Chief Designer John Owen, who will report to Technical Director James Allison. In another change, its Performance Director Mark Ellis has decided to resign all-together and take a sabbatical from mid-2019 season.
His place will be taken by Chief Vehicle Dynamicist Loic Serra by the end of the current season with Ellis only playing a supporting role from then onward to allow for a smooth transition of the duties.
Costa, who joined Mercedes in 2011 after a spell with Ferrari has played a crucial role in the team winning four successive titles in both the championships. “The last seven years with Mercedes have been an amazing experience,” he started.
“[And] not just successful professionally but also a life experience that has enriched me and my family, and given us a more open and international mind-set. Back in 2011, it took just a few weeks to settle in the team and dedicate myself to this new challenge.
“The reason for the easy fit was the attitude of my colleagues, with their warm welcome, respect and collaborative approach all the way through the team. This has been especially true with Toto: we share a professional challenge and also a personal passion for racing, and I have been grateful for his trust and full support in what I have tried to achieve.
“We have seen the team progress and achieve success, and now our next challenge is to create an even stronger group to meet the challenges of the next decade. Over the past year, I have worked with Toto and James to develop a long-term succession plan to help the next generation do the job in the best possible way.
“I am happy to leave the baton in the capable hands of John and James – and to continue to support the new organisation as a Technical Advisor to ensure it prospers in the future,” he summed up.
The 54-year-old Ellis joined Mercedes in 2014 after working with Red Bull Racing – the year when Mercedes first won the constructors’ and the drivers’ titles upon its return to F1. “After 30 flat-out seasons in motorsport, 19 of them in Formula One, I have decided it is time for me to take a sabbatical from the sport.
“On a personal level, it will allow me to take a (hopefully well-earned) break to consider my next steps while remaining part of the Mercedes family, whilst on a professional level, it has enabled us jointly to plan the succession in a structured way and create and develop the space for the next generation to step up.
“I would especially like to thank Toto for allowing me the space to bring my best to this incredible team and the opportunity to share the incredible journey over the last few years as well as the support from all my fellow engineers.
“This is without a doubt the best team I have ever worked with, at every level of the organisation; it is packed full of awesome people with a shared determination to deliver excellence in a humble, open and collaborative manner, a truly cohesive organisation which I shall miss.
“Our championships in recent years have been underpinned by the approach of developing our people along with our long-term capability; this transition is proof of that philosophy in action,” he said.
Both Toto Wolff and Allison were supportive of the decision made by the two senior members of the team and are equally thrilled to see fresh faces at the top of the hierarchy board as it faces still challenge from arch rivals Ferrari.
“This is a significant moment for our Team and a great opportunity,” said Wolff. “We have said many times that you cannot freeze a successful organisation; it is a dynamic structure and I am proud that we are able to hand the baton smoothly to the next generation of leaders inside the team.
“We have been in discussion for many months with both Mark and Aldo about how best to implement this transition and to empower their successors. They could not be more different personalities but they have both respected that difference and their legacy with Mercedes will stand test of time.
“Since the early days of 2013, Aldo and I have shared many dinners in Oxford as fellow European exiles, as well as some amazing days in the car at the Mille Miglia last year. I have got to know not just an outstanding individual but also somebody who has taught me so much about Formula One and the humility it takes in order to be successful.
“With Mark, when we first met we could never have imagined the success we would achieve together. He has been a sparring partner in the truest sense of the word – and I will miss our ‘tough love’ discussions with their shared passion for our Team and driven by the ultimate will to win.
“Mark and Aldo have both helped to shape the timing and manner of these changes, and the Team’s future is very bright with John, Loic and our entire technical leadership working under James’ direction.”
Allison added: “Our drivers, anyone who is a fan of our Team and, most of all, those of us lucky enough to work at Brackley and Brixworth, owe both Mark and Aldo a huge debt of gratitude.
“As a Johnny-come-lately to this Team my own sense of gratitude is larger than most: not just for the fun and challenge of working alongside them over two seasons, nor only for the huge power of the engineering groups that they have created and lead, but above all for the unique manner and grace of their intended departure.
“Aldo and Mark signalled their intention to step down over a year ago and have continued to give heart and soul to the company. Every day they take the fight to our competition with undiminished vigour and yet both men have reached deeper still in order to help me and others in the planning and implementation of their succession.
“Mark and Aldo pass on an unrivalled technical legacy to worthy and well-prepared successors to whom they have set a magnificent example of top-drawer technical leadership.”