Paddy Lowe has left his role as Mercedes executive director (technical) and is now on gardening leave, the team has confirmed.
Lowe, a key architect of the team's dominant spell since the introduction of V6 turbos in 2014, was first linked with a switch in December, just days after Mercedes lost world champion Nico Rosberg to retirement. Mercedes announced the news on Tuesday afternoon following several reports of his departure in the morning.
His departure comes with Mercedes and Williams locked in negotiations about Valtteri Bottas, who the world champions are lining up to replace Rosberg. It had been suggested Mercedes might forgo Lowe's gardening leave to sweeten the Bottas deal for Williams, but it appears that is not the case.
The team said there are no short-term plans to announce a successor to Lowe, saying its technical organisation will continue under the "proven and established leadership" of Aldo Costa (engineering director), Mark Ellis (performance director), Rob Thomas (chief operating officer) and Geoff Willis (technology director).
Lowe joined McLaren as engineering director in 2005 and had become technical director by 2011. He remained at the team until 2013, when he switched to Mercedes, a move which prompted Ross Brawn to step down as technical chief. Under his technical leadership, Mercedes produced the all-conquering W05, W06 and W07 cars which have combined for 51 wins from a possible 59 over the last three years.
The news leaves Mercedes without a technical chief going into the new season, though former Ferrari technical director James Allison is the early favourite to replace Lowe, though he is currently serving his own period of gardening leave after leaving Maranello last July.
On his departure, Lowe said: ""I have had a fantastically successful and enjoyable three and a half years at Mercedes working with an incredible team of people. I am now looking forward to a new challenge and wish everyone well at Mercedes."