Mercedes F1 engine guru reveals inspiration behind exit

Mercedes Formula 1 engine chief Andy Cowell is yet to decide on his next career step after he leaves the reigning world champions at the end of the year.

He will depart Mercedes after 16 years working in the company, with his most recent role seeing him oversee the highly successful Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains division, a position he took up in 2013.

Cowell is credited as being an instrumental figure in developing the all-conquering Mercedes V6 hybrid engine that has powered the team to six successive constructors’ and drivers’ championship triumphs since 2014.

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After handing in his notice in January, Cowell will remain part of the team until the end of the year to help oversee the transition period of the new HPP leadership team, which will be headed by Hywel Thomas.

“It’s time for a change,” Cowell told F1's Beyond the Grid podcast. “Mercedes is a company that I'm hugely proud to have worked for.

"The people here are an incredible group of people, and I'll miss them. But Sixteen years feels like a long period of time doing largely the same thing.

"I like a ‘clean sheet of paper’ challenge of design. I think my personality likes the thrill of being dropped into something that's challenging and scary.”

Cowell explained that the inspiration behind Project Pitlane ultimately helped reassure him that he had made the right choice to leave Mercedes and seek a new challenge.

The joint venture saw Mercedes and the other six UK-based F1 teams band together and use their collective excellence in engineering to help develop ventilators and continuous positive airway pressure [CPAP] machines to help treat COVID-19 patients.

“Project Pitlane was a 'go and have a go at something different' that lit the bonfire in my belly and got my head thinking every second of the day about CPAPs and about anything else that Project Pitlane was working on,” Cowell said. “That's the challenge that I want going forward.

"I do class myself as having one of the best jobs on the planet at the moment,” he added. “A lot of my friends, and especially my Mum thinks I'm as mad as a box of frogs to hand my notice in.

"Everyone is saying what are you going to do next? I'm not 100% certain yet, but hopefully it will give me a nice big challenge.

“Hopefully I can help companies and organisations, and people."

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