Mercedes’ F1 engine architect Cowell to step down

2020 F1 season

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Mercedes’ managing director of powertrains, Andy Cowell, is to step down from his position, the team has announced.

Cowell has been with Mercedes since 2004, and oversaw the creation of their V6 hybrid turbo power units which have powered them and their drivers to the successive Formula 1 world championship titles in the last six seasons.

He informed the team of his plans in January, and a new management structure will be implemented from next month to spread his responsibility among Mercedes’ management. Cowell will remain with the team until early 2021.

Hywel Thomas is to be appointed as managing director with direct responsibility for the F1 power unit. The leadership team will also involve Adam Allsopp and Markus Schaefer on the Mercedes’ Project One road car programme, operations director Richard Stevens and finance and IT director Ronald Ballhaus. Mercedes’ Formula E engine project will continue to be handled by chief engineer Pierre Godof.

According to Mercedes, “this new structure will enable the company to deliver three key projects to the highest possible standards in the coming years: the F1 power unit, the Formula E powertrain and the powertrain development and production of the Mercedes-AMG One.”

Cowell said he is leaving the team to “seek a new engineering business challenge.”

“I have appreciated the opportunity to work with Markus and Toto in defining the future leadership structure of the company and I have every confidence in the ability of Hywel and the team to lead the company forward.

“It has been an absolute honour to work for Mercedes and especially to be managing director of HPP [High Performance Powertrains] for seven years. Thank you to everyone who has provided me with such amazing opportunities and enjoyable challenges, especially Ola Kaellenius who had the courage to support me back in 2006.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Cowell’s contribution “has been a key factor in our championship success in recent seasons.

“He has made an outstanding contribution to our motorsport legacy and I have valued and enjoyed our working relationship since 2013. I am sure he will enjoy great success in the next challenge he decides to take on.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “Mercedes’ F1 engine architect Cowell to step down”

  1. Engineering challange at Fezzari?

    1. Given there are budget caps and there is parts freeze coming soon highly unlikely he will get a pay raise with Italian outfit.

      1. Chaitanya, PU manufacture does not fall under the budget cap.

    2. I wonder if Ferrari would would allow a company to race as Fezzari. Would be kind of funny.

    3. The inclusion of “business” in the phrase “new engineering business challenge” implies that the focus will be on the business side of things. If it was Ferrari, the focus would be on the engineering, as the business is already established (although it would be a challenge overcoming that organisational culture).

      1. Mattia Binotto is an ex engine guy. Perhaps we’ll see Cowell make the cross as well

    4. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      16th June 2020, 7:41

      Does he know something about Mercedes future in F1 that we don’t?

  2. Gavin Campbell
    15th June 2020, 16:25

    Depends – could be going to work on something outside of F1. The traditional petrol combustion engine (even when combind with Energy Recovery) is coming towards end of life especially in an engineering sense. IE the new exciting projects are probably in alternative fuels, electrical, hydrogen et al.

    Also there is a new Engine Formula coming in 2026 and the discussions are starting to happen with regards to where they want to go next.

    So it is a good time to step back, let someone take charge and get their feet under the table to build up to the next regs.

    Also thats one decent record of a clean sweep of titles from the V6 hybrid era – well done sir.

  3. Hard to believe this isn’t part of something bigger. If such a key figure leaves the team in such uncertain times, I think the whole future of the team in Brackley might be very different. I expect Toto to be next.

    1. Yes, this could be a sign that the end of an “era” is nearing

    2. Yes., a notable turning point. I foresee his next project within F1. Perhaps Aston Martin? New AMG boss and some notable share acquisitions. Something is stirring.

    3. Unsubstantiated assumption

  4. Not unexpected in the light of proposed forever freeze and dumbing down of engines and F1

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      16th June 2020, 7:40

      F1 engines are not being dumbed down. Please don’t look at this way.

      The technical regulations are being revised to make the sport more competitive and affordable. F1 is primarily a sport, not an engineering exercise. If you are interested in unrestrained technology there plenty of other spheres such as aviation and space to choose from.

      F1 in your words, is already “dumbed” down. No traction control, ABS or stability control. Most middle of the range road cars have this kind of technology.

      Internal combustion engines in road cars are nearing end of life. That includes hybrids. The philosophy of the new rules is all about the sport, not technology.

      1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk
        So maybe he’s going to work for Musk?
        F1 has always been an engineering exercise always! If the philosophy of new rules is as you say F1 will no longer be able to claim that title will it! The drivers will no longer be required to hold a super license, races would no longer have to be run on tracks graded “1”.
        It would certainly cut costs, perhaps the will merge with Indy car and go electric :)

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          16th June 2020, 10:33

          Who knows, maybe Musk, I would! Stranger things have happened, hehe.

          I didn’t say F1 wasn’t an engineering exercise of course it is, I just said it’s primarily as sport. When the two are at odds the sport wins, ala Traction Control, ABS and many more.

          If you won’t accept F1 naturally has to limited technically for sporting reasons from time to time, you’ll just get spiraling costs, poor competition and viewers turning off, oh wait that’s what we have!

          Hence something is being done.

          I just don’t like to call it “dumbing down” because it raises some peoples hackles. Look, we all love F1 and want it to be the best it can be in all ways, but first it must survive.

          From one F1 nut to another, happy F1 watching, its coming soon!

  5. Agris Rūmītis
    16th June 2020, 1:35

    going to fia to draw up next gen pu

  6. Puzzling.

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