Mercedes chief technical officer Mike Elliott has left the team in the wake of the eight-time champions’ failure to win a race this season.
Elliott, 49, moved to his current role in April after Mercedes’ realisation that their car would be uncompetitive for a second year running.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Elliott’s exit was his own decision
“It’s clear that he’s ready for new adventures beyond Mercedes,” said Wolff.
“I know this is the right step for him.”
Elliott has worked for Mercedes for 11 years and was a central figure in their eight consecutive constructors’ championship wins from 2014-2022, first as head of aerodynamics, then technology director.
The team also won seven consecutive drivers’ titles from 2014-2021, six with Lewis Hamilton and one with Nico Rosberg.
“Mike has been one of the pillars of the team’s achievements over the past decade and it’s with truly mixed feelings that we say goodbye to him today,” added Wolff.
“Mike is a fiercely intelligent technical brain and a great team-player. He has made a strong contribution, not just to winning racing cars, but also to building the culture of our team.”
However, Elliott’s promotion to technical director in July 2021 – in preparation for the 2022 season, for which F1 introduced its biggest technical rule changes for 40 years – was not a success.
The team chose a radical design philosophy which became known as the “zero-sidepod” concept, and which was very different from that employed by Red Bull, who have gone on to dominate the last two seasons.
The Mercedes design team chose to continue with that approach for this year, but Hamilton has said he knew as soon as he drove the car that they had made a mistake. After first practice at the first race of the season in Bahrain, Hamilton said that the team were “on the wrong track”.
The following month, Elliott swapped roles with James Allison, who had been technical director from 2017 but was promoted to chief technical officer in 2021.
The team said the change was Elliott’s own idea, a claim met with scepticism within the F1 paddock, given Allison’s stellar reputation and the struggles Mercedes had had under Elliott’s technical leadership.
Silver Arrows struggling to compete
Mercedes won only one race in 2022, with George Russell in Brazil, and have failed to repeat that success at all this year. There are three races remaining, starting in Brazil this weekend.
Mercedes said in a statement that Elliott had filled his time as CTO since April “focusing on developing a strategy to renew the team’s technical capacity for the years ahead”.
It added: “With this plan now in place and in the process of delivery, Mike has decided to take a break from the sport in the coming months, before deciding upon his next challenge.”
Elliott, who began his F1 career at McLaren as an aerodynamicist in 2000 before moving to Renault in 2008 and then Mercedes in 2012, said it had been “one of the great privileges” of his career to be at Mercedes through their domination of the sport and that he was “proud to have made my contribution to that journey”.
He said: “Although the last two seasons have not seen us winning races in the manner we aspire to, they have tested us in many other ways – and forced us to question our fundamental assumptions about how we deliver performance.
“During the past six months I have enjoyed developing the technical strategy that we hope can provide the foundations of the team’s next cycle of success.
“I have decided that now is the right time to make my next step beyond Mercedes – first to pause and take stock, after 23 years of working flat-out in this sport, and then to find my next challenge.”