Are the cracks showing at F1 benchmark team Mercedes?

Mercedes has been the overwhelmingly dominant force in Formula One’s complex turbo-hybrid era, with a record-six-straight title doubles from the outset in 2014 - and 89 wins from 121 races.

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Mercedes has been the overwhelmingly dominant force in Formula One’s complex turbo-hybrid era, with a record-six-straight title doubles from the outset in 2014… and 89 wins from 121 races.

Its superstar, Lewis Hamilton, securing 62 of his 84 with the Silver Arrows, and five of his six gleaming world championship crowns…

And while Mercedes has an astronomical budget at its disposal, its 2019 spend more than $400 million US dollars, the sport’s second highest, the key to its success has always been about people…

… and giving them the stability to calmly perform at their best. A contrast to an ever-stretched Ferrari, desperate and making mistakes.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON, 6-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION: “It’s dominant. It’s a strong force. And I think it’s taken us time to build that, to build the strength and depth from within and have the consistency we have had. It is not something that has just come overnight, and the other teams don’t currently have the elements that we have in place.”

But, that stability will undoubtedly suffer following recent news that engine boss, Andy Cowell, is set to depart Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains after 16 years - seven as its managing director - with the Brit seeking “new engineering business challenges”.

The new structure will see Hywel Thomas replace him as MD, with direct responsibility for the F1 power unit. Adam Allsopp will head Project One, with Pierre Godof leading the Formule E project.

And while Mercedes is confident the structural change will be effective, with Cowell working alongside new MD Thomas to support the transition - with further work, a Mercedes-Benz AG major future project, keeping the Brit there until at least early 2021…

… the marque will lose one of its greatest champions, who’s been there from the outset of the turbo-hybrid project - and whose passion for great teamwork drove the squad forward.

SOUNDBITE (English) ANDY COWELL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MERCEDES HPP: “Often, the barriers that we’ve come up against, they’re in our head. And the team of people here are very creative, very ambitious and they push those barriers down, they think forward and they come up with new technology and make good progress.”

It will now be all eyes not only on Cowell for his next destination - but also the futures of the team’s other senior figures, for any more signs of cracks in F1’s benchmark squad.