Mercedes has announced executive technical director Paddy Lowe will leave the team after speculation brewed about his departure to Williams.
Lowe leaves after three-and-a-half years at the Brackley-based squad having helped the team claim three consecutive F1 world drivers' and constructors' championships and the Mercedes board has wished him a positive future as he looks set to join Williams later in the year.
The British engineer has been put on gardening leave for the remainder of his F1 contract which is rumoured to expire in May. Last month, Williams confirmed the departure of Pat Symonds which is believed to pave the way for Lowe.
Mercedes has outlined an interim period technical reshuffle which will see Aldo Costa as Engineering Director, Mark Ellis as Performance Director, Rob Thomas as Chief Operating Officer and Geoff Willis as Technology Director.
Head of Mercedes motorsport Toto Wolff has paid tribute to Lowe and is confident the team has the technical personnel to maintain its success.
"Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three and a half years and we thank him for his contribution to this significant chapter in Mercedes' motorsport history,” Wolff said. "Success in Formula One is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organisation.
"We have the talent in place to continue our success of recent years and we plan to build upon it in 2017 and beyond."
Lowe has hinted at his 'new challenge', expected to be with Williams, as he bids farewell to Mercedes.
"I have had a fantastically successful and enjoyable three and a half years at Mercedes working with an incredible team of people.
"I am now looking forward to a new challenge and wish everyone well at Mercedes."
Get ready for the new season: 2017 F1 team and car launch dates
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.
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.
QUIZ: Can you guess the F1 car from these teasers?
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.
Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst