Williams has confirmed that Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe has taken a leave of absence from the Formula 1 team, with just over a week to go before the opening round of the 2019 season.
The team missed the opening two and a half days of testing for the 2019 season due to the late completion of the auto, with deputy team principal Claire Williams describing the delay as "embarrassing".
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".
The team has not indicated what this means for Lowe's long-term future.
Lowe stressed during testing that he did not feel his job was under threat and urged Williams to remain as a unit, believing it will emerge stronger from its current setback.
Williams has tweaked the front-suspension and mirror design of its new-spec FW42 ahead of next week's Australian Grand Prix after receiving a briefing from the FIA on the car's legality.
The pre-season setback added to the pressure Lowe was already facing following Williams's dismal 2018 season.
The FW42 was the second vehicle to be completed under Lowe's watch since he joined Williams from Mercedes two years ago.
The pace of the FW42 raises concerns of their season with both George Russell and Robert Kubica admitting their team is the slowest of all ten and that they are fully ready for the first race in Melbourne, Australia.
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