Mercedes deny they are paying price for Cowell’s exit

Date published: October 26 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Ex-Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell in a press conference. Britain, July 2017.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is clear that the departure of Andy Cowell, their former engine boss, has not led to the current reliability woes.

Cowell vacated his position as managing director of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains in 2020 and recently was linked with the new Red Bull Powertrains operation. As of yet though,  nothing has come of those rumours.

But on the track, Mercedes have been struggling with their engines. Valtteri Bottas was forced to take his third engine penalty in the last four races when requiring a new Internal Combustion Engine at the United States Grand Prix.

The German outfit are also mulling over further engine changes for their title challenger Lewis Hamilton, reliability issues threatening to take that decision out of their hands.

Mercedes’ unexpected downturn in engine stability suggests Cowell’s presence could be missed, but Wolff said that is not the case.

Valtteri Bottas during FP1 for the US GP. Austin October 2021.

“The strength of the organisation is its depth. Andy is clearly an exceptional personality that contributed in his day, but so is Hywel [Thomas] and everyone besides him,” Wolff is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.

“I have 100 per cent confidence in the structure we have today. Engine developments are not something that happens overnight. It has a long lead time when things go right or things go wrong.

“Andy was a massive part of our past success but so was Hywel and everyone else. So I don’t think you can pinpoint it to one of the leaders having decided to leave the organisation. There are still really profound strengths within the organisation.”

 

At the United States Grand Prix, Bottas was not the only Mercedes powered-driver to drop down the grid with customer teams Aston Martin and Williams also encountering issues.

Sebastian Vettel needed a new power unit fitting into his Aston Martin AMR21, as did George Russell at Williams, which meant both drivers received penalties that sent them to the back of the grid.

Since Bottas only took a new ICE in Austin, the Finn dropped just five places to P9 on the grid.