Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko claims that there is unease within the Mercedes Formula 1 team following the exit of James Vowles.
Vowles, who most recently worked as Mercedes’ strategy director and played a pivotal role in its success during the turbo-hybrid era, departed to join Williams as its Team Principal.
The Briton replaces Jost Capito, who opted to retire at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff wished Vowles well upon his departure, however speaking to sport1.de, Marko suggested that all was not calm within the squad.
When asked if he was worried that Vowles could shape Williams into a B-team for Mercedes, Marko said: “No, I have completely different information.
“Vowles went of his own accord and – so it is said – even takes good engineers with him. My sources tell me that’s why the mood at Mercedes is so tense.”
Vowles too has already moved to dismiss claims that he is joining Williams to assist the Mercedes squad, insisting that he is doing so for the benefit of his career and to help the Grove-based squad move up the pecking order.
The loss for Mercedes comes as it looks to bounce back from a difficult 2022 season that saw it take just a single grand prix win across the campaign.
It marked Mercedes’ most uncompetitive season in the current era to date, as it slumped to third in the Constructors’ Championship after claiming eight consecutive titles.
However, while Marko was cautious over whether Vowles’ exit could hurt Mercedes form next year, the Austrian states that he expects the Brackley-based outfit to be Red Bull’s biggest competitor this year.
“We’ll see,” he said. “However, I still believe that Mercedes will be our biggest challenger when it comes to defending our title.”