Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has opened up about the departure of chief technical officer Mike Elliott after news broke that he has left the Silver Arrows in the build-up to the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.
Elliott’s departure was confirmed ahead of this weekend’s race in Interlagos, bringing an end to an 11-year stay with the Brackley-based team. This news follows another technical shake-up earlier this season, in which he was removed from his post as technical director in favour of bringing James Allison back.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after FP1 in Brazil, Wolff explained: “Mike was my number one employee for many, many years in terms of, you know, how he performed. We are going to miss one of the most clever people in the industry.
“It was just a hard toll on him over those many years, and I find it very remarkable that somebody can say ‘You know what, I need to do something else, rather than holding onto this.’”
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The Mercedes boss was then asked whether or not the departure was performance-related following back-to-back seasons struggling in the shadow of long-time rivals Red Bull. He replied: “No, it’s never the decision of a single person [to choose the design direction for the car].
“I think as a group, we’re trying to build the quickest race car and obviously we were so far down route with that concept of a car that we thought maybe we got on top of it. We didn’t – that’s why we changed it and we put lots of plasters on the car to be more competitive like we see now, but that hasn’t got any correlation [to Elliott’s departure].”
Wolff’s sentiments were echoed by driver Lewis Hamilton, who discussed the impact that he has made during his 11-year stay at Mercedes ahead of the Brazilian GP. The seven-time world champion is looking to end a race-win drought that spans back to the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP.
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Addressing Elliott’s departure, Hamilton said: “I’m definitely sad to see Mike go. I have known him since my McLaren days, before I raced for McLaren he was there. I have had a great relationship with Mike.
“I’ve loved working with him, within this team. He’s such an intelligent individual. He was someone I would always speak to on aerodynamics. He was amazing at explaining everything to me, so I learned a lot from him.”
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