Ross Brawn insists he remains in charge at Mercedes despite upheaval rumours
Team Principal says he's also fully aware of Paddy Lowe approach
By James Galloway and Mike Wise. Last Updated: 25/01/13 11:01am
A defiant Ross Brawn has declared that "I'm in charge" at Mercedes despite speculation that he could be set to be forced out of the team.
The management structure at the Brackley-based outfit, and Brawn's continuing presence in it, has been at the centre of growing speculation over recent days following the surprise appointment of Williams shareholder Toto Wolff to the roles of Mercedes' effective new motorsport boss and team stakeholder.
Although Mercedes announced in their press release that the triumvirate of "Ross Brawn, Niki Lauda and Wolff will complete the management of the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 racing team" reports subsequently suggested the team had made an approach for McLaren Technical Director Paddy Lowe and that Brawn could be moved aside.
Mercedes and McLaren had remained silent on the rumours surrounding their respective teams, but on Thursday the former held a media day at Brackley with Brawn and high-profile new arrival Lewis Hamilton facing the press.
Brawn immediately made it clear that, as far as he was concerned, he was going nowhere. The 58-year-old added that Wolff's arrival would allow him to concentrate his efforts on trying to help turn Mercedes, who won the title as Brawn GP in 2009, back into World Championship contenders.
"I am the Team Principal and I'm in charge," Brawn said.
"Toto is coming in and there is another side of the business that quite frankly I don't want to get involved in.
"I don't want to get involved in the commercial activities and with the support we need to give Daimler on a day-to-day basis.
"There are a lot of things Toto will be doing which are complementary to what I am doing in terms of running the team.
"But you have to have one reference. Everybody knows the only way a racing team will work is to have one reference, and I'm that reference.
"I am the Team Principal and I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters."
Brawn also admitted that Mercedes have indeed made an approach to Lowe as they seek to bolster an already formidable engineering roster for the long term.
He said the situation had arisen because he wanted to see how the team's recent management and technical reshuffle would pan out before himself making a long-term commitment.
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Even so, Brawn added that he hoped to remain in charge for a "very long time".
Besides Lauda and Wolff, Mercedes have hired the likes of Bob Bell, Aldo Costa and Geoff Willis - each of whom has served as a Technical Director elsewhere - in the last couple of years.
Heading in the other direction, meanwhile, was Norberg Haug who left his position as head of Mercedes-Benz motorsport - the role now occupied by Wolff - in December.
The influx has yet to be reflected in on-track success, however. Since Mercedes acquired the team ahead of the 2010 season, they have won just one race - Nico Rosberg's victory in last year's Chinese Grand Prix.
Sky Sports F1 analyst Johnny Herbert was an interested observer at Brackley having worked with Brawn at Benetton and driven for Jaguar the season before Lauda was appointed team manager.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the three-times grand prix winner said he was sceptical that Mercedes' new management could work smoothly together.
"Things have had to move this team in a position where they can fight for race wins consistently," Herbert said.
"We know about Niki Lauda who has come in - I knew about him many years ago when I was racing at Jaguar and there was a lot of unfortunate political mess that was going on there, with different people from Germany, from America and then Niki Lauda as well.
"But he's coming in there with a wealth of experience - a three-times World Champion - and he's really going to have to work with the guys that are here.
"Ross Brawn - we know how successful he's been with Ferrari and Michael Schumacher and Benetton before that. But lately it hasn't been working out.
"We're going to see how, together, those guys can get a situation of saying, 'Well I'm going to stay to make the team work' or 'I'm going to go'.
"Ross has said he's going to stay, Niki's here for sure, Toto's just joined. It's something that'll be interesting to watch - how that continues and if there is a power struggle. That seems to be going on at the moment."