Brawn: No promises to Hamilton
Mercedes boss also insists that retiring Schumacher had the pace to win this season
Last Updated: 05/10/12 11:46am
Ross Brawn has denied making Lewis Hamilton any 'promises' that Mercedes will ultimately deliver a race-winning car in order to lure the 2008 World Champion out of McLaren.
Despite being speculated and signalled long in advance, Mercedes' stunning capture of Hamilton continues to be the main focus of attention in the Suzuka paddock - not least because, with neither party out-bidding the other in terms of the pay packets on offer and Mercedes wining just a solitary grand prix since their return to the sport as a team owner three years ago, it makes so little apparent sense from a purely sporting perspective.
According to Brawn, however, what won over Hamilton wasn't a solemn pledge that Mercedes will be frontrunner next season but a "vision" of how the 27-year-old can help transform the team into a major force at the forefront of F1.
"I'm not sure you could describe them as promises," said Brawn of the assurances given to Hamilton as the driver prepared to sign a three-year contract with the team. "We set out the path that the team is on, what we're trying to do, the people we have to try and achieve that, and the facilities we have in place.
"And as you would with any driver, you present that vision, and the objectives you have for the next few years, and that's what we did."
Yet whilst Hamilton's acquisition amounts to a major coup for Mercedes, his move will also heap heightened pressure on the team to significantly improve their car. Pressure, though, is something Brawn, a multiple title winner with Benetton, Ferrari and his own eponymous team, is already very familiar with - and happy to accept.
"We're all under substantial pressure but a lot of it is self-generated because you want to take part in a very, very competitive sport. None of us have handcuffs holding us to this business," he said during Friday's Team Principals' Press Conference. "We do it because we enjoy it and it is our ambition to succeed. Most of the pressure I feel is from within - and not from a driver or a board."
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Hamilton's transfer has prompted Michael Schumacher to announce his second - and almost certainly permanent - retirement from F1. Yet though the seven-times World Champion has failed to add to his tally of 91 race victories during his second stint in the sport, Brawn doesn't believe that Schumacher's efforts this year should be underestimated.
"He has done a very good job for us and we've repeated many times that if we had provided him with a better car he would have won races - there were certainly races this year that he was quick enough to win," said Brawn.
"It's the passing of an era and one which it is hard to imagine anyone repeating."
McLaren counterpart Martin Whitmarsh also believes that Schumacher had the pace and form to sign off with a victory - a feat the veteran might yet record in the final six races of the campaign.
"It's very difficult to imagine anyone matching his achievements in our lifetime so inevitably it is a loss," said the McLaren Team Principal. "Michael is a name and brand within the sport and I personally believe that this season has been the strongest since his return.
"With a bit more luck, he could have won some races this season, but any great athlete has to make the decision of when to go."