Mike Elliott’s departure from Mercedes had no “correlation” to the team’s decision to scrap their zero-pod concept, insists Toto Wolff.
Mercedes announced the shock departure of Elliott on Tuesday, the Briton leaving the team just months after he swapped positions with James Allison to move the role of technical director to chief technical officer.
Elliott stated in the press release that he had “decided that now is the right time to make my next step beyond Mercedes – first to pause and take stock, after 23 years of working flat-out in this sport, and then to find my next challenge.”
Did Mike Elliott pay the price for Mercedes’ flawed zero-pod concept?
However, almost immediately it was suggested that his departure was the result of Mercedes’ failed zero-pod concept.
As Mercedes designed their first ground-effect aerodynamic car, the 2022 W13, it was Elliott as the technical director who led the team that came up with the zero-pod philosophy.
Despite only winning a single Grand Prix with it, Mercedes persisted with the design into this year’s championship before eventually making the call to scrap it in favour of a more conventional sidepod design.
As such it has been suggested Elliott paid the price for Mercedes’ troubles.
“No, Mike was my number one employee for many, many years in terms of how he performed,” Wolff insisted to Sky Sports. “We are going to miss one of the most clever people in the industry.
“It was just a hard toll on him over those many years and I find it very remarkable that somebody can say, ‘You know what, I need to do something else’.
“If somebody is strong and say, ‘I’m done with it for the time being’, that’s good.
“[Car design] is never the decision of a single person. I think we as a group are trying to build the quickest racecar and obviously we were so far down the route with that concept of a car that we thought maybe we got on top of it.
“We didn’t. That’s why we changed it. And we put lots of plasters on the car in order to be more competitive, like we see now, but that hasn’t got any correlation.”
Wolff also denied Elliott’s departure could have a negative impact on the design of next season’s W15, the team boss adamant it’s a group effort.
“It’s no single person’s fault if a car doesn’t perform, it’s also not one single person that makes the car faster,” he said.
“We have such strengths in the organisation that you can take one out and everybody else is going to cover that and the other way around, so I don’t think that’s going to change anything for next year.”