Damon Hill says losing Paddy Lowe to Mercedes will be 'gutting' for McLaren
Former Technical Director expected to be placed on 'gardening leave'
By William Esler
Last Updated: 01/04/15 2:40pm
The 1996 World Champion knows the 50-year-old well, having worked closely with Lowe during his time as Williams test driver, when the pair helped developed the active suspension concept for the FW14B.
Hill feels that the skills gained by the Cambridge graduate during his 26 years in Formula 1 will make Lowe a valuable commodity for the Silver Arrows.
"They wouldn't have wanted to lose Paddy, they would have wanted to keep their team together," Hill told Sky Sports News.
"Paddy is an incredibly talented, boffin type of character who I worked with in years gone by at Williams - he was developing the active suspension - and he knows everything you need to know about how to make a competitive car.
"So he will be a valuable asset for Mercedes and I would have thought that McLaren will be gutted to have lost him."
Tim Goss will take over as Technical Director at McLaren, whilst Lowe is likely to see out the remainder of his contract with the Woking-based team on 'gardening leave,' to prevent him taking details of their 2014 car to Mercedes.
"A big problem for race teams is the information, this private information that they have spent money gathering and their technical research," Hill added.
"When someone goes, they are not allowed to take any documents or any kind of information of that nature with them. However, they still do and they are able transfer that knowhow to another team and start again."
If, as expected, Lowe does join Mercedes, he could find himself working alongside Ross Brawn, Bob Bell, Aldo Costa and Geoff Willis, all of whom have held the position of Technical Director at various teams. That has led to renewed speculation over the future of Brawn as Team Principal and Hill feels that there will be changes to come.
"There was a little bit of a rattled cage from Ross Brawn when the news came out that Paddy might be going to Mercedes so I think there is still some manoeuvring around that will be done in the technical department," the 52-year-old said.
"There has been a lot of change, Nikki Lauda has moved in, Norbert Haug has left and there has to be some sort of change of order at Mercedes to make the assets that they are taking on board work properly and produce a winning combination, which after all is what Mercedes are investing an awful lot of money in doing."