As much as Ross Brawn had been rumoured to be facing the axe as Mercedes compiled a top-heavy management structure, it has emerged that CEO Nick Fry will be the first of the 'old guard' to leave the Brackley outfit.
The Briton, a stalwart from the British American Racing days that preceded Honda and Brawn leading to Mercedes ownership of the team, will step down at the end of March with Toto Wolff taking over his role. Wolff, who quit a similar position at Williams to become head of Mercedes motorsport division, will take on Fry's commercial responsibilities, while 56-year old Fry will remain as a consultant to the Three Pointed Star 'until at least the end of 2014'. His exit is understood to be amicable.
"I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with our team for the last 11 years and remain extremely proud of the fact that we took the team to its first race win and especially the double World Championship in 2009," Fry noted. "Equally important is the success of our commercial activities as we have managed to gain the support of some of the most important companies in the world, thereby building a strong foundation for the future success of the team.
"I believe that Mercedes AMG Petronas offers the best sponsorship proposition in Formula One and I look forward to continuing to assist the team and its partners over the coming years."
"I would like to thank Nick for more than ten years of service to the team in Brackley," added Wolff. "Mercedes AMG Petraons enjoys a strong network of global, blue-chip partners who want to be associated with Mercedes-Benz in Formula One and we will work hard to retain our loyal partners while also attracting new names to the sport in the future.
"I am pleased that Nick will remain close to the team to support us in achieving these targets."
Meanwhile, Fry's departure is also expected to ease the pressure on Brawn, whose future was rumoured to be in doubt as Mercedes hired not only Wolff, but also Niki Lauda, and appointed both to the board of directors. With rumours that McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe is also on his way to Brackley at the end of the season, however, the team needs to have a more competitive season than it did in 2012, when both Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher fell away from the front of the field.
Mercedes started the 2013 campaign with Lewis Hamilton qualifying third and finishing fifth at the Australian Grand Prix.