Mercedes boss Toto Wolff does not believe that his team’s current struggles in Formula 1 are linked to a potential ‘brain drain’ of its top talent.
The German car manufacturer is enduring its most difficult season in F1’s turbo hybrid era, with porpoising problems leaving it unable to run the W13 in the configuration it was designed to.
The early difficulties have already left the team on the back foot in the championship, and it knows it needs a quick turnaround if it is to have any chance of taking the fight to Ferrari and Red Bull this year.
In the wake of an evolving staffing structure at the team, which has included in recent years the departure of engine chief Andy Cowell and its technical director James Allison stepping in to a new role, there have been suggestions that its dip in form could be linked to it losing the input from key brains.
But Wolff does not back such a stance, and reckons that any personnel changes that Mercedes has experienced are part of the standard turnover that all teams go through.
“It's just the normal cycle,” he said. “Ross [Brawn] left, then Paddy [Lowe] left. We won six championships after that, or seven. Then James Allison came in, and there's a lot of others who aren't front and centre. Then Andy [Cowell] retired.
“But meanwhile, all the young guys are coming up, and they've been the decision-makers at the operational level time and time again, as far as the cars in the last few years are concerned.
“We haven't lost anyone where I think to myself today: 'That was really, really counterproductive!' It's just the normal rate of change.”
While Mercedes may not have some of its former experienced heads on tap, Wolff thinks there is a huge positive to be had from the injection of youth that is evident at the team right now.
“When I walk around our campus, the thing that pleases me the most is that most people are very young and highly educated, motivated - and don't want to leave things the way they are today,” he added.
“That puts me in a positive frame of mind. I couldn't imagine anyone better in the team than the squad I have around me. And I'm not just saying that lightly: it's what I really believe.”
While Mercedes’ championship hopes look slim, with there being quite a big performance gap between its car and the front-runners, Wolff is not yet ready to throw in the towel on the titles.
“I don't want to say goodbye to the thought,” he said. “What I love about this sport is that not everything always follows the maths.
“The races can be completely different. You see how fast it goes between being first/second on the track, and being eliminated in the next race.
“In this respect, the gap we're now opening up is certainly difficult to make up, but if we manage to put this car reasonably straight on the track, then we'll be among the front runners with this car: as grim as that may look today.”