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Brawn says, “I’m team principal and I’m in charge”
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jan 2013   |  1:08 pm GMT  |  115 comments

Mercedes F1 team principal Ross Brawn spoke today about the goings on behind the scenes at the team in recent days, suggesting that the move for Paddy Lowe is part of his long term succession plan but emphasising that he is very much in charge of the team.

“I am the team principal. I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters,” he said emphatically, when asked if Mercdes ran the risk of emulating the failed Jaguar Racing experiment, where no-one was sure who was in charge.

News has surfaced in recent days of a plan formed by Mercedes F1′s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda and Mercedes’ new head of motorsport Toto Wolff for McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe to come in to head the technical side of the team. Brawn said that this is because he is being asked for a long term commitment from parent company Daimler, but is currently unable to give it.

“I know all the plans for the future of the team and I hope I’m going to be a part of them for a very long time, ” Brawn said at the outset of his press meeting at Brackley this morning. “I know the situation completely. Mercedes want a long term commitment. And obviously with a lot of additions, I want to see how things go before I make a final long term commitment. And that, so we have to have things in place. It’s rather like my succession plan at Ferrari. When I decided I was going to stop at Ferrari, we built a succession plan and I am part of that, I’ve talked to Paddy, we know the situation. I’m planning on being here a very long time.”

Brawn’s performance today looked very much like a man who wants to control the outcomes; he made it clear that he was aware of the plans, rather than finding out about them once they became public, talking of his own motivation and desire to continue, deflecting from any suggestion that his future is being decided by others in the management chain.

The situation, as he paints it, sounds similar to Michael Schumacher’s at Ferrari in 2006, when he was unable to give Luca di Montezemolo a long term commitment and so Montezemolo and Jean Todt went out and hired Kimi Raikkonen.

Brawn is a proud man with an admirable track record: 8 drivers world championships and 8 constructors’ championships as a technical director and team principal and – uniquely – he has overseen Grands Prix victories with four different teams. So he’s achieved far more as a manager than Niki Lauda ever has.

But he making it clear here that the ball is in his court when it comes to deciding what part he will play in Mercedes F1 plans over the next few years.

Brawn is excited by the challenge of the new 2014 rules and knows that Mercedes is putting all the pieces in place to have a crack at the world title. He is also excited by working with one of the fastest drivers in the sport. But he clearly has doubts about the effect Lauda is going to have on the project he has been developing at Mercedes and wants to keep his options open about the future.

“We are entering a really exciting period. Obviously Lewis joining us was a massive catalyst for us all, a massive incentive, motivation. I’m seeing the maturity of the changes we made 12 months ago. This car has been project led by Aldo (Costa) and he’s done a fantastic job and I’m really excited by that. Like any of us in life if we are excited by what we are doing we carry on doing it.

“And when I say ‘hope’ I mean that I continue to find the excitement and the motivation and the reasons to go racing, because racing gives me a buzz. We have our difficult days but it’s a really exciting period, the car is coming together well we have set some tough tasks over the winter, we are meeting them. A lot of things are behind us now; we did the restructuring of the wind tunnel and a lot of things are behind us where this coming year we are going to gain the benefits of those initiatives we made.”

But things do seem to be happening on the hoof with Mercedes; Toto Wolff said on Tuesday that his appointment came about “in the last two weeks”; Paddy Lowe had already been talking about a move to Williams when Wolff was there and this has now morphed into a Mercedes plan. There are a number of people whose purposes it would suit for the plan regarding Lowe to become public for various reasons. Brawn said he is disappointed it has as it means a distraction for his staff just when he wants them focussed on preparations for the season about to unfold.

However new driver Lewis Hamilton, in his first days of work at Mercedes in Brackley, said that he believes Paddy Lowe is staying at McLaren and emphasised that as far as he in concerned, Brawn is the main man,

“Having a head figure in the team is vital. Ross is that head figure, he leads the way and inspires everyone to go that extra distance. He’s had a great career and he runs a great team,” he said.

“As far as I’m aware there are no plans to bring Paddy here. I’ve been assured by Ross that his commitment is for the long term and he is here to try to win with me, which reassures me and continues to give me a positive feeling moving forward. There are lots of good people here and I’ve obviously had great experiences with Paddy but he works with McLaren as far as I’m concerned.”

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115 Comments
  1. adityafakhri says:

    it could be ended like Jaguar, indeed. but with Lewis and Nico onboard, I doubt that it would be that bad.

    besides, Toto has shown his managerial ability in Williams and with more resource in Merc, I don’t see why they can’t be major contender (not instantly done though).

    the thing that confuses me, why did they sign Niki?

    1. Steve Freegard says:

      Niki is a non-executive Chairman.

      See the Wikipedia definition of what a non-executive director role is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-executive_director

      Personally, I’d love to know what Niki said to Lewis to convince him to move from McLaren.

      1. Tim says:

        I should imagine something about £19,000,000/ season

      2. Tim says:

        Lauda would talk “W’s”, not “$”.
        Btw, Tim, glad you used the British pound sign.
        It helps to differentiate us.

        Tim

      3. Wayne says:

        I think Lewis was already on the edge and just needed tipping slightly……

        Can someone explain to me what Lauda brings to the table? I’ve only ever heard him in the media sounding boarish…..

      4. toleman fan says:

        I don’t think that that’s the page Lauda is on regarding his own role definition.

        Data point: he’s citing Helmut Marko as a role model / role peer, IIRC.

    2. NF1 says:

      He obviously bought into it.

      1. adityafakhri says:

        and moreover, it makes a chain potential move. If Paddy Lowe were suddenly leaving for Merc, McLaren would hijack James Allison from Lotus (which I don’t want that to happen because I’m Lotus enthusiast, and it would be hard for Lotus to replace their top technical man).

        but in the end, I’m not sure it’s gonna end well for Merc. their structure is too complicated and the position seems to overlap each other. More balanced management like McLaren and Newey centered in Red Bull are very hard to match.

      2. Martin says:

        I would’t assume that any top designer would move to McLaren. A pay rise would be likely, but there would be a lot of constraints due to the nature of McLaren’s quite sucessful design processes. One of Red Bull’s strengths is that the design team is set up to support Adrian Newey’s way of working. Even Newey couldn’t bend McLaren to his way of doing business, and so far no one else has put his/her hand up as a super designer, and these people are getting rarer as almost no one designs entire race car chassis these days (as Newey did in the 80s).

        So to move teams as a designer is to very much step out of a system you know to someone else’s. If you don’t adapt to it, it is unlikely your car will win, and you won’t be happy.

  2. snowman says:

    So, that’s cleared that up. ‘I’ve talked to Paddy, we know the situation.’

    Doubtless, McLaren also have a succession plan in pace for Paddy Lowe. I wonder who’s taking his place?

    Bring back Jean Todt!

    1. Baghetti says:

      So Brawn talked to Paddy who hasn’t been hired yet, but hasn’t talked to Toto who has been hired (see Toto’s comments earlier this week)? Still doesn’t make sense to me if you look at it from a Mercedes uppermananagement perspective, I would never hire a new high-level profile to co-exist with another high-level profile without organising at least one conversation between the two of them…

      1. only1halen says:

        Its time for Ross Brawn to retire and go fishing with Schumacher, Briatore and Tad Czapski.

      2. toleman fan says:

        It’s time for me to a strange sense of déjà vu.

        As if my mind (or something) was somehow cutting in and out for no apparent reason.

        Odd.

  3. Anne says:

    Ok one thing is for sure. Mercedes wants Paddy Lowe. Brawn doesn´t know if he can commit for a long period of time. It seems Mercedes wants too many chiefs for too few indians

    1. John Stuart says:

      “too many chiefs for too few indians” you took the words right out of my mouth! Mercedes need to re – employ more staff, and invest for the future, rather than keep on signing “big names”

  4. Steve Quinnell says:

    Hi James, I think maybe a piece on how management roles at teams have evolved over the years, the different ways the teams structure themselves and historically what does/doesn’t seem to work would be an interesting read for alot of us?

    1. Gudien says:

      Excellent idea. How much information can men such as James Key, Aldo Costa, Adam Parr, Sam Michael, or Mike Coughlin bring to a new team when race cars evolve over years (Red Bull’s RB 6,7,8) ?

      For years we heard from Scuderia Ferrari that continuity was of primary importance in their organisation. Is it still true?

  5. Sebee says:

    Lewis is a catalyst but Schumi wasn’t?

    I fail to understand how a German team wasn’t motivated by Michael and now magically is motivated by Lewis.

    1. snowman says:

      With Michael, in latter years he drove rather too carefully. But with Lewis, plenty of new cars will be needed!

      Motivating for sure!

      1. Ak says:

        I like your humour despite being a lewis fan ( maybe you were serious :P ) . I think if he can bring some consistency like vettel …he will be better off , maybe something he can learn from nico

    2. alastair emmerson says:

      Because Lewis is the new generation of driver. Things in f1 have changed since schumi was at his height, a massive change. Im not doubting schumi ability but he isn’t what these new guys are.

      1. Val from montreal says:

        Like what ? Your right though , he did’nt plaster confidential information on twitter like Hamilton did …

      2. Sebee says:

        Yes, that’s why Schumi stuck that pittyful car on pole in Monaco, ahead of Lewis and his fast McLaren.

        Next.

      3. Spinodontosaurus says:

        The pityful car that was actually one of the top cars for the first few races.
        Both Rosberg and Schumacher showed this in more races than just Monaco and China.
        Not to belittle Schumi’s pole.

    3. Jonzo says:

      German Team? Which part of Germany are Brackley and Brixworth in?

      1. Sebee says:

        The owner is German.
        The wallet paying the bills is German.
        The drivers were German.

        It was always billed as a German Team from day 1. Think of it as a German F1 Embassy in UK.

      2. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        Niki and Toto are Austrian…..

      3. Martin says:

        Hamilton may live in the German bit of Switzerland…

      4. Alexyoong says:

        Like in Dominion, for those of you who have read it. I recommend it

      5. Sebee says:

        >Niki and Toto are Austrian…..

        And what language do the speek in Austria?

        Austria is like a backup file for Germany. :-)

      6. KRB says:

        Hamilton lives in Monaco now, in the same condo complex as Rosberg.

      7. toleman fan says:

        >It was always billed as a German Team

        PR horse excrement. Is the Aston Martin Cygnet an Aston Martin?

        >from day 1

        From day 1 of the takeover of the pre-existing team of reigning world champions.

        If this was an all new team, could you explain to me how they came to be allocated race numbers 3 & 4?

        >Think of it as a German F1 Embassy in UK.

        Thank your for the invitation, I’ll continue to think of it as BAR / Reynard.

      8. toleman fan says:

        >BAR / Reynard

        My bad, & my apologies to Brixworth.

        BAR / Reynard-Ilmor, natch. ;)

    4. Sikhumbuzo says:

      And how only his car kept on breaking.

    5. Elie says:

      Someone that is 28 and out qualified 2012 WDC as opposed to someone who is 41 and not sure he is going to committ in 2013- Uhmm yeah I find that more inspiring regardless of what names you put on them.

      People can go on Hamilton bashing but the facts remain he is the fastest bloke in the field right now- & I know hurts you all to admit it – I don’t even like guy personally but in a car I like him alot .

  6. ArJay says:

    Well, Catch-22…
    It appears that Brawn wants to be involved long-term with Mercedes but can’t commit long-term until the outcome of the ‘additions’ is assessed. However, if he doesn’t ‘commit’ pretty soon then surely the ‘additions’ will ensure his involvement will only be short-term.

    Reading between the lines, is there possibly a physical health issue in the equation? I sincerely hope not.

    1. Tim says:

      I also had a similar thought. Didn’t Ross miss a race last season on Doctors advice? Like you, I hope that is not the reason.
      It all seems a bit strange, Ross is in charge and wants to be around for a long time but can’t committ at the moment – why not? If you want to stay and the team wants you to stay then it’s a done deal.
      I think there is more to this story, I guess time will reveal all.

      1. Tim says:

        Tim, could be that Wolff is making things uncomfortable for Brawn, with a purpose in mind.
        What do you think?

        Tim

      2. Tim says:

        I imagine there is a certain amount of posturing (from Wolff) and making sure everyone knows who is the boss, new broom etc. The part I am unclear on is Ross wanting to stay but cannot commit. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind wanting to lose Ross from the operation altogether – whether his best position is as team principal though is another question – but I would imagine they would want his input in one capacity or another.
        As I said time will tell.

  7. TheBestPoint? says:

    THANK YOU James

    prompt info on the PR shenanigans.

    Very interesting comments from Lewis.
    Having come from McLaren where there is the hint of collective (in)decision-making. He is very clear about what the team needs.

    interesting also that Brawn “spoke to Paddy”. the guy is really keen to come over (whether he does or not is another thing) this was not just some tactic to get a pay rise.

    my “free” advise:
    1 Mr Wolf you need Brawn (experience, streetsmarts and strategy genius) and you need stability – too many changes at the moment. You are not experienced enough to take charge (YET)

    2. perhaps you need Paddy too (2012 car deserved to win both championships) by all means bring him in but he has to answer to Brawn – not you or Lauda. a couple of years unlearning McLaren style leadership and learning how to run an F1 team wouldn’t be amiss either.

    3. you need to focus on the non-racing aspects – Fry’s job and also take on a studentship role to the actual racing aspect.

    ‘sigh’ everyone happy now!
    oops where does Mclaren go from here? (if PL leaves?)
    scratch that – what does the current situation say about team goings on?

    1. KRB says:

      The best thing about Ross Brawn to me has been that it seems he more often than not gets “his way” in any 50-50 decision from the FIA. Whereas McLaren in similar circumstance would almost certainly lose.

      Bernie wants a strong Mercedes, as it cements German interest in F1 for the longer term (i.e. even after Vettel retires). Plus it would set up two strong works teams that both have a special history in the sport (M-B’s far back before the current F1 championship even started, but a special history nonetheless).

  8. moxlox says:

    Good to see Ross Brawn stamp his authority on matters.

    1. Anne says:

      What authority? He is talking about a succession plan. Why would he do that if he wants to stay 3 or 4 years?
      Right now it´s neither white nor black. It is a grey that is getting darker and darker

      1. moxlox says:

        “I am the team principal. I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters.”

      2. Anne says:

        Those are just words… For that matter I can say I´m the Queen of England. Am I? I don´t think so.

        But let say that yesterday when said those words he told the truth. That was yesterday. Next week, next month we don´t know if he is going to be in charge. There is too much going on in Mercedes right now

      3. Darrin from Canada says:

        I may only be a colonial from Canada, but even I know that the queens name is Elizabeth not Anne (Nice housing style though)

    2. germancigibberish says:

      +1.
      @moxlox: Totally loved the way he put it!

  9. goferet says:

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    So from Brawn’s explanation, this is how I see this political maneuverings panning out.

    If Mercedes doesn’t bear fruit like yesterday, Ross Brawn is so outta there for a long time without success has a way of killing the motor racing buzz.

    However, if Mercedes begins blazing the charts, Brawn will commit to a long term future with the team, probably till Lewis retires (just like what happened with Schumi at Ferrari)

    To be honest am relieved for Brawn has laid out his cards for when it comes to thinking on your feet, only Brawn can take on the Red Bull pitwall >>> Consistently, also lets not forget Paddy Lowe’s cars at Mclaren haven’t exactly been flawless especially the 2012 one!

    Also, it seems the 2013 Mercedes car will be a beauty judging from the way Brawn is raving about it. But how cruel will it be if Schumi misses out again on the good times just like he did at Ferrari in 2007-2008.

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Lowe can’t really be blamed for failing components though.

      1. Ak says:

        and also can’t be blames for terrrrrrrrrrrible pitstops

  10. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Woof Woof!!

    The big dog has just bit back the stalkers.

    “This is my turf. So help me, or get f’d” is the message I take from this.

  11. Enzo says:

    So Brawn feels the need to state he’s in charge, that doesn’t sound good for Ross.
    With Lauda and Wolff around,there’s no way he’s in charge as he used to be.

  12. carrot says:

    Jean Todt isn’t a replacement for Paddy Lowe, he was the head guy who managed Brawn and the rest of the team during the Ferrari good times.

    Seems most think the leader was Brawn. He wasn’t. Todt was!

    1. Anne says:

      I agree. Todt seems happy now as the head of FIA. I don´t think he is interested in McLaren or any other team for that matter

    2. Gudien says:

      Right. Ross’ strong point, in my recollection was his race stategy. During the golden Ferrari years it was very much a TEAM winning the races, and not simply one or two people contributing to success.

      When it came to the ugly side of the business, as it too often did with the Scuderia, Jean Todt stepped up and escorted Michael Schumacher (a.k.a. the Schumi) before the magistrates!

  13. madmax says:

    Keep hearing about Merc going to be really good in 2014 but it is documented SChumacher was offered a 2 year contract around May time last year but didn’t want it because he just wanted a one year.

    Should someone so internal and up to date on everything in the Merc F1 operation not jump at the chance to have a 2 year contract if this car is going to be so good in 2014.

    Now we have Brawn showing the exact same indecision that Schumacher showed last year. I just hope this time they let Brawn say he is retiring before announcing his successor.

    1. Wanja says:

      Or could it be that Schumacher, after 3 years, was just tired of all the effort that Formula 1 demands if you’re doing it right? He has done it for almost 20 years in Formula one – getting up early, training hard, dieting, being in the flashlights and on the jet plane, sleeping in hotel beds, before that there were the junior classes that all demanded a lot of effort.
      I mean, he has had 3 years off, came back to see if he still has it, and with 2012 he proved to be as fast as Rosberg, alas more unlucky.
      Imagine that situation: Mission accomplished, had your fun, proved it to youself. Now get home, smile or put another two years of hard work into it and hardly see your family? Well.. if you’ve had such a long career I guess it’s not important how good or bad the next car will be. It’s the question if the effort it takes is worth the satisfaction it gives and in case you’re pretty satisfied with yourself, what would you decide?

  14. Nick_F1 says:

    For me, it seems like it’s a scenario with Schumacher in 2012 and not in 2006.

    MS said he had to decide but couldn’t get any indications for the long term commitment and they hired Hamilton. Now, Ross is in the same position and possibly Lauda will advise to bring Paddy Lowe in asap until 2014 …

    At least it starts like this, then we all know how the things happened for the first case.

    1. James Allen says:

      No. it’t much more like 2006, when Schumacher was only 37 years old and potentially had a few more years.

      In 2012 he was already 43 and “long term” wasn’t on the agenda.

      1. madmax says:

        Bild who seem to be ahead of the rest on the whole Mercedes saga said last year Schumacher was offered a 2 year deal but the German just wanted a 1 year. This apparently stalled negotiations as Merc wanted the longer commitment.

        Schumacher wanted to see the new 60% wind tunnel data for the 2013 car before signing as he was growing frustrated with the under performing cars he had in his comeback.

        Brawn’s situation seems very like Schumacher’s.

      2. Sebee says:

        I think that if Merceded are competitive this year, they are going to be chewed up by the German media for not giving those tools to Schumacher.

        Honestly, how can a German car maker not give the biggest F1 star who happens to be German the tools to make some results happen?

        I have to tell you madmax, I would not be surprised if Schumi was ready to keep going but wanted to do so only if he was sure he wouldn’t be driving a dog 4th year in a row.

        Man deserved at least 1 competitive season out of the 3. He’ll be irritated too if they are competitive. But considering they have to contend with likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and surprisingly Lotus…well, let’s just say many here have douts.

        Some indication of answers in a few days. Definative answer in 51 days.

        Now forgive me while I go to cryogenic hybernation for 50 days to spare myself the waiting.

      3. madmax says:

        Good points Sebee, I think he wanted to continue but couldn’t bear the thought of another uncompetitive car, hence the stalling for the data on the new car.

        Problem is Hamilton was signed and Schumi left in the cold whether the car was looking good or not.

      4. toleman fan says:

        >Schumacher wanted to see the new 60% wind tunnel data for the 2013 car before signing

        Do you have a source for that?

        Are you saying the team refused, that the data didn’t exist yet, or that he saw the numbers and wasn’t sold?

      5. madmax says:

        @toleman fan

        It was in an article by Pat Symonds in the paid section of autosport entitled “Why Michael Schumacher will always be a special racer”

        None of what I said is definite as you will see it is Symonds belief but he would know and it makes sense.

        From article- Symonds; “Mercedes felt part of their problems lay with their 50 per cent scale windtunnel model. So they made the decision to develop their 2013 car at 60 per cent scale. Michael, I believe, wanted to see the initial results of this work before committing to another midfield year.”

        Schumacher always said he would make his decision in October so I presume that’s when he would have the data. Problem is Hamilton was already signed or there no1 choice by then. But what I was saying is regardless of this years car’s competitiveness he could have signed for 2 years last May according to the German press.

        Why didn’t he jump at the chance to sign for the 2014 car that is supposed to be so good with the new rules?

  15. Adam says:

    One has to ask the question why Brawn can commit to the long term. I suspect it is a thorn called Lauda. One or other will be gone this year. I hope it is Lauda with a nice PR statement from the board that he has put in place the team the board wanted, now the team have to get on with the job…… Lauda stays and Brawn is gone it will all be a dismal failure. And Brawn gone is a likely outcome, look how a certain German driver wanted more time to commit at Ferrari and Mercedes and how well did that work out each time?

  16. Val from montreal says:

    “The situation, as he paints it, sounds similar to Michael Schumacher’s at Ferrari in 2006, when he was unable to give Luca di Montezemolo a long term commitment and so Montezemolo and Jean Todt went out and hired Kimi Raikkonen” ….One of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time ! The REAL plan for 2007 was signing Valentino Rossi alongside Michael Schumacher , not Kimi Raikkonen ! Jean Todt and MSC were mapping out Ferrari’s future wiyh Rossi …. Todt resented Montezemelo for going behind his back and signing Raikkonen in august 2005 …. I dont know where you get your sources but a bit of fact checking could do you some good ….

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Wasn’t it Todt who said in interviews that there was only one driver he rated, ie Kimi. By all accounts he was not keen on Alonso. I would imagine he resented MSC being pushed out because Kimi was signed..

      1. Martin says:

        With Alonso it was something about a testing contract if I can even remember the opposite of detail.

      2. toleman fan says:

        Todt had some sort of deal with Alonso. Flav made Alonso a better offer (a race seat at Minardi in ’01 rather than testing?), and Alonso jumped horses.

        No idea if Todt had a signed contract, a verbal agreement or what. All I do know is that Todt was quite open about bearing a grudge and not being willing to sign Alonso as long as he had a top flight alternative long after Alonso was WDC and clearly the real deal.

    2. zombie says:

      and pray tell us what “facts” do you have that Jean Todt and MSC ( of all people! ) wanted to sign Rossi for 2007 ? Ferrari did test Rossi, and he was fast, but nowhere fast enough to be a title contender with zero experience in any form of serious car racing. That was a non-starter, Rossi knew it, and Ferrari knew it.

      There were rumors as early as mid-2005 that Ferrari had an option on Kimi for 2007, and they took it when Michael was indecisive whether he wanted to continue on in F1.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Yes you are right, they started to surface around Monaco 2005 IIRC.
        Don’t forget, Alonso was then signed by Mclaren at the end of 2005 for 2007, to replace Kimi.

      2. Horno says:

        If i’m correct ur all wrong,
        They wanted Alonso, but Alonso went to Mclaren and then Todt never wanted Alonso anymore in the Ferrari.. Because of ‘disrespect’..
        Kimi was 2nd choice..

      3. Anne says:

        Here is the story (more or less) When Alonso was a Minardi driver he made a verbal agreement with Ferrari. He would be just a test driver. His then manager Briatore decided it was better to signed with Renault because Alonso wouldn´t spend a lot of time in the shadow as a test driver. In his second year at Renault he became a driver.

  17. Alexyoong says:

    My view:

    This is beginning of exit strategy for Brawn, who has been put under enormous pressure from Mercedes, and has been told that he will have a load of other names forced upon him. He will only stay if new car turns out to be decent.

    Brawn back at Enstone, or indeed off to Woking, would be interesting.

    This is how big stories start in F1. There was at least some truth in what EJ was saying, again.

  18. Brace says:

    Isn’t it a bit strange that he is talking about Paddy like he is a free lancer.

    All this public talking about how Paddy might leave his current team, coming from the side he is negotiating with, won’t go well with him.

    Can you imagine how Ron Dennis and Martin Withmarch might be looking at Paddy in the middle of all of this. This can’t be good for the development of their car.
    Especially with all the guys in the factory being unsure if their main man is going to depart in a matter of days or weeks or whenever.
    And if nothing comes of it, how can Paddy keep working at McLaren after this?

    1. Monktonnik says:

      Good point.

      Interesting that Brawn actually gives away that he has been speaking directly to Paddy about this move. I sense a bit of gamesmanship here to try and destabilise the opposition.

      Mclaren must be less pleased than Mercedes that this has come out.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      Paddy Lowe can’t join on a few weeks notice. His contract would have a long period of gardening leave assigned, so I expect 2014 is the earliest he could be fully onboard.

      Mclaren will not offer Paddy any step up from his current role. They could give him more money but I imagine he may want more recognition.

      I think people forget there’s a lot of crossover between the mclaren and Mercedes teams already with their close connected history.

      1. Martin says:

        The interesting part to me is Martin Whitmarsh’s comment that there was no one in the McLaren structure who looked like the next McLaren team principle, so that was one reason to hire Sam Michael. Which suggests that Paddy Lowe was not identified for as someone suitable for the team principle job.

        It could be that Lowe and Whitmarsh are too similar in age/career length, and that was the reason to favour a younger guy like Michael. Professional jealousy from Lowe towards the new kid?

      2. Brace says:

        The point is not when he will join Mercedes, the point is, his current coworkers have no clue if he’s staying with them or not, and that’s not a good position if you are expected to actually lead your coworkers.

      3. AuraF1 says:

        No I understand but the teams consistently try to poach other drivers and engineers. Adrian Newey leads his team easily enough despite constant overtures by Ferrari. James Allison leads lotus design despite pretty much being touted as paddy lowes replacement.

        Knowing a few engineers in F1, although a tight knit team is welcome – its a small universe and most are aware of the mercenary nature of pay rise and promotion will often mean your boss moving elsewhere. Much like the drivers shift around, top flight engineers are just on the slightly less sexy roundabout. Imagine whatever industry you work in having only 11 real companies to work at. You’d probably expect your comrades and bosses to be moving on pretty much all the time.

        I understand the concern with Paddy Lowe but to be honest I think most of the mclaren department people who work for him have come from other teams or will likely move to another team at least once in their careers (there’s less and less lifers). They will accept paddys leadership until he goes and then they’ll await the next boss and hope he (or she) will be both competent and fair.

  19. Alex says:

    A tangential question: if Paddy does move, do you feel McLaren will feel the need to recruit from elsewhere or does McLaren have strength of depth to reorganise and appoint from within the team?

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I think they’ll have spoken to James Allison already.

  20. Zack says:

    Good news that Ross Brawn is staying (for now at least), but not sure where this leaves Paddy Lowe.

    Also, there are rumours that James Allison is leaving Lotus so who knows where he’ll end up.

    The team principle/technical director market is more exciting than the driver market!

  21. Roger stark says:

    Hi James I think Ross might like a fishing break as before he doesn’t need the hassle

  22. Steven Pritchard says:

    Jaguar Part Two?

    Lauda remains an iconic racing driver but where is his provenance as a business man. He seems to be pushing the boundaries far more than a “non-executive” should be.

    Mercedes may deliver a great car out of the box, but to keep development moving, that will be a metric that measures he success of the management team.

    My own opinion? Too many chiefs, not enough Indians!

    1. James Allen says:

      Several people who were part of Jaguar Pt 1 have called me in the last few days to reiterate just what chaos that situation was – no-one sure who was in charge.

      Maybe Lauda has learned from that and will be super-effective here. Time will tell…

      1. Wanja says:

        An article about that would be nice.

        With Lauda in charge at Mercedes, that’s a great chance to look back to see what actually went wrong at Jaguar. The outcome might be pretty enlightening.

      2. Martin says:

        They weren’t all current Red Bull employees were they? :-)

      3. Martin P says:

        James you’ve read through all the releases and sat through all the press conferences so can you tell us… who is in charge?!!

        Buggered if I can work it out yet.

      4. toleman fan says:

        James, are you saying that they called -in the last few days- to confirm the parallels that us outsiders think we’re seeing with Brackley today? Or with their memories of working with Niki in general? Or…?

        And…any comparisons with Brackley mk1 and the Craig vs. Malcolm vs. ex-Tyrrell (F1 experienced) vs ex-Benetton (Supertec experienced) people?

    2. Baba says:

      “but where is his provenance as a business man.”
      Lauda Airlines-Air Berlin?

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      I have enormous respect for Niki Lauda the race driver. Surviving near fatal injuries and winning a further 2 Championships is the stuff of legend.
      But I don’t think Lauda the man, is somebody that people can warm to.

      His own personal history shows a ruthless individual with barely any emotion for anything.

      He got a loan because his family,who were in banking, didn’t approve of his racing.

      He turned Ferrari around and was, maybe, the first driver since Surtees who didn’t bow down at Ferrari’s feet.

      He won his 2nd championship then left immediately because he’d been disgusted with Enzo’s attitude post accident.

      Retired mid 79, after getting bored of going round in circles.

      Returned in 1982 because of needing finance for his airline.

      Left in 1985, and was out-spoken about Ron Dennis not offering any thanks when he left.

      Became special advisor to Ferrari during 1991 and 1992 before Bernie pointed LdM in the direction of Todt, who himself was frustrated that Peugeot wouldn’t commit to F1.

      The Jaguar debacle is well documented, from being a well structured race winning team with Stewart, they self destructed until Ford sold the team to RBR for £1

      As a broadcaster has been known to ruffle feathers. It’s one thing being opinionated but don’t be surprised when people don’t want to speak to you.

      I get the impression from having watched and read about his life, that this is an extremely arrogant man. There’s a world of difference between confidence and arrogance.
      An arrogant man knows that he is right, all the time.
      The confident man knows how to delegate.

  23. Oliver says:

    What do you make of the comments by Ted Kravitz that Lauda is not acting like a ‘non executive’ chairman and has told brawn he calls the shots?

    Is this how you see it James? And if sois Lauda at risk of thoroughly alienating the team with what comes across as quite an arrogant view point of his position?

    1. James Allen says:

      I heard a story about the first meeting at Brackley between Lauda and Brawn. I cannot share it as it would violate a confidence.

      But you can imagine.

      1. Davexxx says:

        Grrr…. not a very helpful comment James!! I guess we all have to ‘assume the worst’ and that it was not a happy meeting then…

      2. toleman fan says:

        James has seen the way us outsiders are speculating.

        If his unrepeatable, in-confidence source is giving positive messages, a) they prob wouldn’t be so confidential, and b) James could say something like, “I can’t repeat what I was told, but the mood at Brackley is positive / relaxed / far different from the febrile imaginings of uninformed Internet commenters.”

        If the messages were consistent with our febrile imaginings, he might instead say, “I cannot say…but you can imagine.”

        Now, if only I could parse James’ actual statement into one of these two categories…

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        The silence speaks volumes.

      4. Lowe might get his backside in the seat sooner than planned. If Lauda pushes the boundaries of his role and interferes with Brawn’s running of the team then any manager worth his salt would either force the issue or quit. Brawn is more than worth his salt and, from what James hints at, would appear to be taking the path of forcing the issue to reach a sensible resolution. But is Lauda the kind of man to do what is best for the common good? Doesn’t strike me as being a born leader and is nowhere near Brawn in that respect. If Lauda and Wolff stuff up the relationships it will have a detrimental effect on team dynamics, stuff up team’s performance, impact results and I could see Mercedes backing out of the sport pretty darned quick. On the other hand – Wolff might have been brought in to keep a lid on Lauda and ensure Brawn has the space he needs to run the team. Hope that’s the case because I would love to see Brawn being able to bask in the glory of the impact of his time at the team to date and get Hamilton his second WDC.

      5. toleman fan says:

        >Wolff might have been brought in to keep a lid on Lauda

        I believe you’ll find Wolff is going to report to Lauda, I.e., Lauda will be Wolff’s boss.

        That doesn’t mean you’re wrong. At Ferrari, Brawn reported to Todt, and Todt reported to Luca di M, and I’d argue that much of Todt’s contribution was keeping a lid on Luca, and providing political cover so Brawn and his team could get on with delivering and not be sucked into the politics.

        I just don’t quite see it working out like this here…

    2. olivier says:

      Why having Lauda in the mix? I find it very disrespectful to Ross. The Mercedes board lost me there.

      1. Anne says:

        Lauda is one of Mercedes share holders. He owns around 10% stock. So maybe he thinks he has the right to run the show in Mercedes, at least to some degree. I´m not sure if Ross still owns anything anymore

  24. F12012 says:

    Interesting that Paddy Lowe has been thinking of leaving Mclaren after all these years, maybe hamilton leaving made him realise Mclaren are on the way down

    Good that Hamilton has backed Brawn to lead the team, going to be some talk about Mercedes this year

    1. AuraF1 says:

      It’s likely less to do with mclaren going downhill and more to do with paddy having reached the peak of promotion within mclaren. He might crave more of a recognition role like Adrian newey?

  25. Sandman82 says:

    So much for eddie jordan being always right.

  26. John says:

    Its starting to sound like Jackie Stewart was right. Lewis has made a massive mistake.

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      I think people are saying “the sky is falling!” too soon. The reaction is borderline hysterical.

      Listen to what Ross has been saying for some time. 2014 is their target not 2013. So even if the car is rubbish this year, its not the end of the world. They will however be judged on the performance of the 2014 car!

      1. John says:

        Well even if they are judged with the 2020 car! Stability is critical for performance. If top management is not stable they wont be performance. Anyway time will tell

      2. toleman fan says:

        I’ve argued before that this -could- be the storm before the calm, like the Briatore-created upheaval at Benetton in the early ’90s.

        But I wouldn’t offer good odds at this point based on the (weak) data I have in front of me.

  27. Liam of Sydney says:

    It will be interesting to get more info from Lewis about what Ross promised him in terms of his own presence. How many years did Ross promise him? And for Lewis, will he see this as a personal betrayal if Ross bails after a year or so?

  28. NJ says:

    Ross Brawn parroting Schumacher’s final comments before leaving Merc.

  29. Rick says:

    Brawn deserves to be dumped the same way he dumped Schumi

  30. SJM says:

    For me the most interesting comment was

    “…This car has been project led by Aldo (Costa) and he’s done a fantastic job and I’m really excited by that..”

    RB has basically gone all in by stacking his and Aldo’s stock on this year’s car. The last time he was this confident was before they launched the BrawnGP car. My gut tells me they may have found something. :)

    1. Sikhumbuzo says:

      @Sjm

      And all Aldos cars were contenders for the championship, also let’s not forget that he too was supervised by a certain calm and equally down to earth engineer called Bob Bell! Whose cars beat Rory’s 2 years in a row!

      Guys lets give them a chance!

  31. Michael Powell says:

    Didn’t I say this would happen?

    As soon as you let big sponsors in they start to think they know best.

    F1 gets enough money from ticket sales and TV fees, they don’t need advertising or run of the mill production car sponsors too.

    Let’s get the logos removed.

  32. tyler says:

    “he’s (Brawn) has achieved far more as a manager than Niki Lauda ever has”

    What has Lauda achieved as a manager at all? Helped sank a promising team? Seems fairly apparent he is not well liked and causes trouble. He must have something on someone. And to read/hear his comments on the racing… he has nothing of substance to offer and his painfully obvious comments are inexplicably sought out by the press. I understand his presence less than I do Helmut Marko’s.

    And who is Toto Wolff and where did he come from? Wonder how much he talks in his sleep? Maybe Williams car development will benefit from his position most of all. Seems like a crazy move to think he and his wife wont talk…contracts, non-disclosure agreements aside, in the secretive world of F1 you would practically have to live in seperate homes in order to not divulge something, intentionally or not.

    If these numb skulls do anything to cause RB’s departure, they will reap what they sow. He has a proven record, they would be fools to let him go.

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