Mercedes have confirmed executive director Paddy Lowe will leave the reigning Formula One constructors' champions, opening the door to a potential move to Williams.
Lowe joined Mercedes midway through 2013 and oversaw three years of dominance in each of his full seasons, the Silver Arrows romping to the last three constructors' and drivers' titles with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg proving close to untouchable.
Lowe's current contract is due to expire in May but it was announced on Tuesday he has been placed on gardening leave.
That could delay a reported move to Williams where he is expected to replace Pat Symonds, who departed in December.
"Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three and a half years and we thank him for his contribution to this significant chapter in Mercedes' motorsport history," said the team's head of motorsport Toto Wolff.
"Success in Formula One is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organisation.
"We have the talent in place to continue our success of recent years and we plan to build upon it in 2017 and beyond."
Lowe's impending switch to Williams could also play a factor in Valtteri Bottas' move to Mercedes, the Finn seen as the front-runner to take the seat left by the retired Rosberg.
Former Ferrari technical director James Allison has been linked with becoming Lowe's possible replacement.