Key Mercedes engineer makes decision on emulating James Vowles transition to team principal

Michelle Foster
Andrew Shovlin, Ron Meadows and Pete Bonnington watching on. Monaco May 2023

Key Mercedes personnel Andrew Shovlin, Ron Meadows and Pete Bonnington watching on. Monaco May 2023

Andrew Shovlin has no ambition to follow his former colleague James Vowles into a team boss role, confirming he is “quite happy” as an engineer with Mercedes.

At the end of last year’s championship, a season in which Mercedes won just one grand prix as they struggled with the new ground effect aerodynamic regulations, the team bid farewell to Toto Wolff’s right-hand man.

Handed the opportunity to take up the reins at Williams, Vowles, Mercedes’ strategy director, swapped silver for blue in what was seen as a big blow for Mercedes with the Briton touted as Wolff’s replacement when the time comes.

‘I’m quite happy as a Mercedes engineer’

Wolff was quick to deny that Vowles’ exit had left a gaping hole in his succession plan with the motorsport boss adamant Mercedes were “always prepared” to lose a key figure such as Vowles.

Since Vowles’ departure, Mercedes have made a few internal changes with James Allison returning to his role as technical director while Mike Elliott moving to chief technical officer position.

As for Shovlin, he remained the Brackley squad’s trackside engineering director, and that’s a role he’s happy to keep.

Asked by former F1 driver Martin Brundle if he has “ambitions in that way”,  he told the Sky Sports pundit: “I’m quite happy doing the engineering.

“I certainly need to play my role in sorting out our current performance.

“But no I’m quite happy as an engineer.”

This weekend Mercedes have brought a new front wing to the Silverstone circuit, one that the team reportedly hoped would help stabilise their W14’s rear end.

It’s the latest step in Mercedes’ ongoing development path, one that Shovlin says it’s not in response to rivals’ gains but instead has been a part of the team’s plans for months already.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Ranked: The 10 best F1 driver pairings of the 21st century

F1 points all-time rankings: Where do Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso feature?

“It all sort of starts in a rather earlier timeframe,” he revealed. “So you’re deciding around this time of the year which sessions you’re going to work on next year’s car, which for the current car, and then it’ll depend a bit on what you find in the tunnel.

“If you know if you find a lot of performance on bits that are easy to make, you might turn them around in three weeks.

“If it’s bigger parts like floors, they could take six weeks, eight weeks, so it’s not so much that we can’t react in the timeframe that we see them bring something in and then here’s our update. It’s a bit more planned.”

But while {qualifying results}, Shovlin believes the wing is a “step in the right direction but the big thing we want to do is get all the download data, do the analysis on that, and just see what it’s doing to the flow of the air across the car.

“Then it’ll tell us whether it’s doing what we think it should.”

Read more: Exclusive: Jenson Button weighs in on Lewis Hamilton’s eighth title chances