Toto Wolff has not ruled out the possibility of James Vowles potentially returning to Mercedes as Formula 1 Team Principal in the future.
Vowles was announced last week that he was moving on from his duties at Mercedes as strategy chief to replace Jost Capito as Team Principal at Williams, who resigned in December.
At Mercedes, Vowles was a trusted Wolff lieutenant who had been interested in potentially becoming a team boss in his own right.
However, with Wolff firmly in place at the Brackley squad, this could not happen at Mercedes, with Vowles set to lead Williams through their latest rebuilding period.
When presented with the idea that Vowles was being 'placed' at Williams to prepare him for a future Mercedes role - in a similar way to George Russell - it is something Wolff did not confirm, but also did not fully rule out as an option.
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"I've always been very open about how I felt going forward," Wolff explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I've made a step beyond the actual employment and my role within the team of being a shareholder is a long-term decision.
"I keep introspecting of how much I can contribute to the organisation, and if one day I believe that there are shortcoming in an area, be it on the sporting, technical or commercial side or in the politics, I would not hesitate for a second about appointing someone to that area of finding someone who could take over what I do.
"Because as a co-shareholder, my main interest is that the team prospers [and] that we are winning on track.
"That is 90% of [what I do] and the other 10% is business or financial development of the company.
"Never say never [about James returning] because he is great. I hope that he is going to have a long career as team principal at Williams and hopefully we see him in the press conferences after successful weekends.
"He could, [as I have at Mercedes] have a 10-year stint there.
"You just need to let the bird fly out and do his own thing, and not at that stage anticipating that he is going to come back."
Mercedes provided 'pathway' - Vowles
Vowles thanked Mercedes and Wolff for helping to ease his transition into the new role - and highlighted the pathway that had opened up by taking the Williams role.
"This journey in principle has been one that has been in my head for many years, and Toto and Mercedes have been incredibly kind in order to provide me a pathway to get there," Vowles explained.
"I'm very excited, I think it's a good fit for myself, and I'm looking forward really to working with Williams in order to move forward off the back of the grid. I'm confident we can.
"In my personal perspective, I leave behind a great number of friends. 20 years in one environment is a long time and I'm sure they'll recognise that I leave in a good way.
"I'm going on to what I know is a strong and correct direction for me, and for Williams at the same time.
"I think perhaps the surprise may only be for many that it looks like a leap and a jump, but that's been bridged by the last few years' worth of work and Mercedes provided me the pathway towards it."