Vowles was Hamilton’s chief strategist but has now left Mercedes to take the team principal job at Williams.

Hamilton first heard the news from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff before speaking to Vowles. 

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“I told him [last] week that this was going to happen and he is absolutely fine,” Wolff said.

“Working with James has always been a great pleasure for him. The clever thinking on a Sunday morning, that was good fun with James always.

“I think his first response was ‘That’s amazing for James’.”

Vowles added: “For what it’s worth, I called him and those were the first words that came out of his mouth.

“Not insulting me or telling me he’s disappointed, it was quite the opposite.

“In fact, I’d probably say throughout Mercedes I’ve had the fortune that near enough everyone I’ve spoken to has just been incredibly happy.”

Hamilton posted on social media about Vowles: “Together we have won over 80 races and 15 titles. This is such a great move and I couldn’t be happier for him.

“We all need to change in order to progress and I’m confident that he’ll push Williams forward to being more competitive. There is nobody more deserving of this role.

“Thanks for everything, James. Wishing you the best, brother.”

Bad news for Hamilton?

The loss of his chief strategist is an unexpected plot twist as Hamilton enters 2023.

Mercedes have already confirmed that they will not recruit anybody to replace Vowles, and have a succession plan from within, suggesting the evolution should be smooth.

But will Hamilton feel the difference in the heat of battle, without Vowles?