Under-fire Lowe departs struggling Williams team

Under-fire Lowe departs struggling Williams team

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe is to take a "leave of absence" from Formula 1, the team confirmed to reporters on Wednesday.

Lowe, who re-joined Williams from Mercedes in early 2017, has overseen a slump in form at the operation, as it slipped to last in the Constructors' Championship.

The struggling team, whose 2019 auto was delayed to the point that Robert Kubica said he is only "20pc" prepared for Australia, is calling it a "leave of absence for personal reasons".

Russell conceded that Williams is now Formula 1's slowest team while Kubica revealed that he had completed only 20 per cent of his ideal pre-season programme.

The auto eventually ran for the first time on the third day of the eight-day pre-season test.

As well as his responsibilities as technical chief, Lowe acquired a shareholding in Williams when he joined.

Last year's vehicle was the first to be designed and built under Lowe's leadership, following his high-profile and expensive move to Williams from Mercedes in early 2017.

Williams' slow start, plus on-track performance in testing, led to speculation over Lowe's immediate future at the team.

Williams head to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix with the least amount of laps in testing.

That increased expectations for the FW42 but also raised the significance of the auto in terms of the competence of Williams's new senior structure.

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