Mercedes announces major shake-up
MERCEDES has announced a major technical shake-up of its F1 team for the 2019 season, with Aldo Costa and Mark Ellis both set to leave their roles.
Engineering director Costa is a much-respected figure in the sport and regarded as a vital cog in Mercedes' era of domination, but is taking a step back into an adviser position so he can spend more time with his family in Italy.
Costa, formerly of Ferrari and Minardi, vacating his role means chief designer John Owen will become the senior member of the team's engineering group, under the leadership of technical chief James Allison.
Ellis, meanwhile, is to retire from his performance director role and take a sabbatical next year, with current chief dynamicist Loic Serra replacing him.
The Brackley outfit, winner of the last four drivers' and constructors' titles, claims the reshuffle is a "planned transition of its senior technical leadership" in a bid to integrate its "next generation of leaders".
"This is a significant moment for our team and a great opportunity," said Mercedes team boss and CEO Toto Wolff. "We have said many times that you cannot freeze a successful organisation.
"It is a dynamic structure and I am proud that we are able to hand the baton smoothly to the next generation of leaders inside the team.
"We have been in discussion for many months with both Mark and Aldo about how best to implement this transition and to empower their successors.
"Mark and Aldo have both helped to shape the timing and manner of these changes, and the team's future is very bright with John, Loic and our entire technical leadership working under James' direction."
Mercedes is currently second in both 2018 championships, with Ferrari providing the Silver Arrows with their toughest test since the hybrid era began in 2014.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo - who is off contract at the end of 2018 - has revealed he needed clarification from Red Bull about why it switched from Renault to Honda power before he felt comfortable about the change.
The team has largely been unable to match Mercedes and Ferrari for pure straight-line speed, prompting it to change engine suppliers and align itself with Honda starting in 2019.
Ricciardo, who has been exploring his options with regards to contract decisions this season, said he wouldn't know whether Honda was the right fit until he drove with one of its engines.
He also made it clear he needed to know his employer didn't ditch Renault purely for emotional reasons, but that there was a strategy behind the decision.
"I've obviously heard the team out more than once and they've given me the reasons (for the change to Honda)," Ricciardo said.
"The important thing to understand for me why they've done it, it can't just be purely on emotions. Like, 'It's gone to s*** with Renault, whatever, and we're doing it because we want to change.'
"They've obviously done their homework and they strongly believe that it is a good thing, not just on an emotional decision.
"They've done what they can to try and encourage me to make it happen."
Ricciardo's Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen described his team's Renault power unit's performance as "tragic" and a "joke" after suffering a disastrous weekend at the British Grand Prix where its only championship points came through Ricciardo's fifth-placed finish.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said it didn't take much to convince Ricciardo it was time for a change in engine suppliers.
"The reality is it's time for change," he said. "We've been doing the same thing year after year, we've seen real progress with Honda, and it just feels the right time in our evolution to be going a different route."