Why Williams is Paddy Lowe's chance for an Adrian Newey-esque legacy

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If you see Paddy Lowe looking lost down the garden centre, you might want to give him a few pointers. You could do worse than suggest that the former Mercedes technical boss reads the latest thoughts of Alan Titchmarsh.

I never realised the gardening guru followed motor racing but he clearly had Paddy in mind when giving advice on winter activity. "Now is the time," writes Titchmarsh in his column, "to take stock of the year's successes and failures and to get on with planning for next year. It's a great time to start construction jobs so that new features will be ready for the start of next year's season."

Spot on, I would have thought. Not too many failures for Lowe to worry about after three championships at Brackley and plenty of fertile ground (yep, pun intended) not far across the fields of the Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire border. The 2017 Williams-Mercedes is done and dusted, giving 'Green-fingers Lowe' ample time to think about next year's car without taking the rap for what is likely to be another disappointing year at Grove.

That's the point, of course. Although Lowe is too modest and decent to publicly beat his chest, the competitive streak burning within his small stature has driven him towards a tall challenge that will be entirely his to overcome.

If you examine Lowe's career, landmark achievements at McLaren and Mercedes have been built on foundations created by others. Having been largely responsible for the trick active suspension that assisted Nigel Mansell to win the 1992 title in a Williams that was seen as the property of Adrian Newey and Patrick Head, Lowe moved to McLaren as head of research and development before rising through systems development to become engineering director.

By the time Lowe had been appointed technical director in 2011, McLaren had won what remains their last championship (with Lewis Hamilton) three years before. Even though Lowe played a prominent part in the design of the 2008 MP4-23, in typical McLaren fashion, the credit was spread across a number of individuals.

Nonetheless, Lowe was associated with 83 victories at Woking before leaving in 2013 to join...Williams, thanks to the entreaties of Toto Wolff, then a minority shareholder at Grove. But when Wolff became team boss at Mercedes F1, he persuaded Lowe to come with him. Lowe's arrival was not unconnected with the messy departure of Brawn, whose good work with Andy Cowell at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Lowe would refine to a meticulous and methodical degree.

While all of this was going on, Newey was enjoying the credit coming his way thanks to making Red Bull champions for the fourth successive year. Lowe will have noted that and it's a fair bet the appeal of doing the same for Williams has driven this latest career move. He's done all there is to do at Mercedes; time to accept another challenge.

This is a tough one. Williams are in a state of limbo, having progressed so far in recent years, but gone no further. In fact, they've slipped back in the light of Force India punching impressively above their financial and numerical weight. Pat Symonds has departed Williams, a polite way of saying he was abruptly shown the door a year ahead of his intended retirement date, leaving one or two unhappy technicians in his wake. And then there's the future financial and management structure of a team headed by Sir Frank Williams (75 next April) but now heavily funded by a businessman [Lance Stroll's father, Lawrence] equally ambitious as a racing dad.

Alan Titchmarsh concludes his seasonal advice by saying: "Get rid of slimy patches by scrubbing and blasting with a pressure washer." In other words Paddy, when wandering around the garden centre, get yourself a decent pair of wellies and a stiff new broom. There's a chance you might need them.