Paddy Lowe is reported to have left his position as executive technical director at Mercedes and on his way to Williams, in a move which could also influence the driver switches.
Speculation has circulated during the off-season of Lowe's exit at Mercedes, which was fuelled when Williams confirmed technical director Pat Symonds would leave the Grove-based squad at the end of his contract, to make room for Lowe in 2017.
Lowe has been a key figure in Mercedes dominance since the introduction of the V6 hybrid engine regulations in 2014 and has guided the team to a hat-trick of F1 world constructors' and drivers' championships.
Reports of Lowe's split from Mercedes has surfaced from a number of sources but Mercedes has refused to comment on the news. It is believed the deal to see Lowe switch to Williams is tied up in bringing Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes to fill the race seat vacated by the retiring Nico Rosberg, who quit F1 just days after clinching a maiden F1 world title.
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The Bottas to Mercedes deal is also believed to depend upon Felipe Massa making a U-turn on his retirement decision to return to Williams for 2017 alongside rookie team-mate Lance Stroll. In addition, Mercedes is keen to ensure factory driver Pascal Wehrlein has a race seat for this season and is tipped to join Sauber in one of the few race seats remaining given Manor's current financial issues which has seen its operating company fall into administration.
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Lowe began his F1 engineering career at Williams and rose to prominence in 2005 when he joined McLaren, becoming technical director in 2011. In 2013, Lowe switched to Mercedes to see Ross Brawn step down from the team as technical chief sparking the team's F1 dominance in the V6 hybrid era.
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