London - Technical head Paddy Lowe could be about to follow newly-retired Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg out of the door at dominant Mercedes.
Website motorsport.com reported multiple sources "with good knowledge of the situation" indicating that Lowe, who has helped Mercedes win three consecutive Constructors' titles, was set to join rival Williams.
Mercedes, which was rocked by Rosberg's retirement announcement only five days after he won the title at the end of November in Abu Dhabi, had no comment on rumours about Lowe that have been rife since September.
Williams, which uses Mercedes engines and whose Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas has become the bookmakers' favourite to replace Rosberg alongside triple world champion Lewis Hamilton in 2017, also had no comment.
The BBC reported, without giving a source, that Williams had rejected a Mercedes proposal to slash the price of the team's engines in exchange for releasing the 27-year-old Finn but negotiations were expected to continue.
Lowe started his F1 career with former world champion Williams in 1987, and spent six years there. The team finished fifth overall in 2016.
Williams current technical head Pat Symonds is 63 and said in a recent interview that he would still be at the team next year, while also indicating that he was looking to reduce his workload.
"I love motorsport and the engineering of it but it is relentless. It really is intense. I'm still working 60 hours a week and there comes a time when I'd like to do other things as well," he said.
Lowe's contract at Mercedes is due to expire at the end of the year, according to reports in Britain and Germany, and the 53-year-old's future has been the subject of considerable speculation.
McLaren, his previous employer, last week ruled out a move for the Briton amid reports that Lowe was poised to accept an offer from a rival team.
"We have absolutely no plans to re-hire Paddy," said a spokesman, "since we are entirely satisfied with our current senior engineering management team."
Lowe is one of three top managers running Mercedes – the others being shareholders Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, who is the non-executive chairman.
Were Lowe to leave, Mercedes is expected to sign former Lotus and Ferrari technical head James Allison who is currently on 'gardening leave'.
Allison, whose wife died suddenly of meningitis earlier in the year, left Ferrari by mutual agreement in July.