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The guardian wrote:McLaren have denied they could have stopped their technical director, Paddy Lowe, following Lewis Hamilton to join a reshaped Mercedes team at Brackley. Lowe, one of the highest-rated designers in Formula One, will see out his current contract at Woking before moving to the German team at the end of the year.
However when McLaren's managing director, Jonathan Neale, was asked if he could have prevented the move, he said: "Slavery was abolished a long period of time ago. It's really difficult to indenture somebody.
"Even if you've got what you think is a water-tight contract, the reality of the situation is that if somebody rolls up on Monday and says: 'I don't like being here, I don't like the cut of your jib, you're not paying me enough money' or whatever, then you don't want them in the team anyway. So I don't look upon this as a management slip-up."
Instead, Neale hinted that McLaren had been flattered by the attentions of Mercedes when he said: "I'm not surprised people are coming through this team at the moment, prepared to pay exotic salaries for people and wait 12, 18 months or longer in some cases. That is the state of the market at the moment. It would be disappointing if we weren't regarded as the place to come to hire good people from because then I wouldn't be doing my job.
"If you want to buy some short-term know-how then you can go out and pay telephone-number salaries. We've all done it."
Instead, the clear message from Neale and Jenson Button was "the technical director is dead, long live the technical director".
Button said of Lowe's successor: "Having Tim Goss in the position is fantastic. He is the guy who designed the 2012 car that won seven races last year so he knows what he's doing."
Of Lowe, who has been removed from F1 duties and will work on an unspecified project as he sees out his gardening leave, Button added: "I really like Paddy. It's been good fun working with him over the past three years, in a working relationship but also as a friend. He's a good guy, a fun character. But things change and he wants to try a new challenge and fair play to him. He's got to think about No1, which is himself, and good luck to him.
"But I didn't come here because Paddy or Lewis was here. I came here because this is McLaren, the heritage is here, the history is here. The words we always use are 'strength in depth'. It's not down to one individual. It's the full team. Paddy leaving is part of the sport. People move round. But this team will succeed in the future, with or without Paddy."
Last year Button had said: "I'd be disappointed if Paddy moved from the team because that's the guy who's going to help me achieve in the future." But while losing Lowe is an undoubted blow, McLaren are unlikely to be spooked by the defection, simply because of the depth of their engineering resources.
Neale added: "It would be foolish to say we're not going to miss Paddy, who has been with us 19 years. But we have designed an organisation that is broad at the top. We've got a resilient team. Tim is a seasoned professional."
Neale also expects big things from Hamilton's replacement driver, Sergio Pérez. He said: "Sergio knows that we expect him to race hard and not be content to park two grid places behind Jenson.
"That's not what we hired him for. He's adapted to the car very well. I expect him to be trading places with Jenson. We wouldn't have put him in the car if we didn't think that."
The new Formula One season gets under way in Melbourne on 17 March.
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