Motor racing: Bottas closer to Mercedes move amid Williams shake-up

Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:32pm EST
 
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One's post-season shake-up took another spin on Tuesday with Williams announcing the departure of technical head Pat Symonds while Valtteri Bottas moved closer to Mercedes and Felipe Massa's retirement looked to be coming to an end.

Williams said Symonds, 63, would be leaving them on Dec. 31, the news coming amid speculation that Paddy Lowe is set to join them from dominant world champions Mercedes to take up a similar role.

Symonds, who worked with the late Brazilian great Ayrton Senna at Toleman in the 1980s and seven times champion Michael Schumacher at Benetton in the 1990s, joined Williams in 2013.

"Pat’s appointment was the start of a major restructuring exercise, and he has been pivotal in reshaping Williams into what is a much stronger racing team today," deputy principal Claire Williams said.

"We now look to the future and will be announcing details regarding the team’s technical leadership in due course."

Symonds left Formula One in 2009 when his then employers Renault were embroiled in a race-fixing scandal after it emerged that they had ordered Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The Briton returned as a consultant in 2011 with Virgin Racing, now Manor.

His departure from Williams means the former world champions, who finished fifth this year, will start the year with several new faces.   Continued...

 
Formula One - Grand Prix of Europe - Baku, Azerbaijan - 17/6/16 - Mercedes AMG Formula One technical chief Paddy Lowe looks on during the first practice session.REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov