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Brawn: I’ll stay at Mercedes if I’m the reference for the team
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Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Oct 2013   |  5:53 am GMT  |  52 comments

There has been a ramping up of speculation this week about the position of Ross Brawn at Mercedes.

In the gap between the Korean and Japanese Grands Prix the team principal was linked with a move to McLaren and Honda, but has denied this.

In Suzuka he clarified his situation, saying that he will stay with the team as long as he is the “reference” for the team, in other words that his role has authority.

Mercedes has a lot of chiefs, from Chairman Niki Lauda and CEO Toto Wolff, both of whom also have shareholdings, to Paddy Lowe, who is understudying Brawn’s role as head of technical and sporting matters, to Bob Bell who runs the technical department. Within that technical department there are a number of former technical directors of other teams like Aldo Costa and Geoff Willis.

“There is a lot of discussion going on,” Brawn told BBC Sport. “We’ve got quite a heavy senior management team at the moment and we have got to understand what we are all going to be doing. And for me it’s important that there is clarity of responsibility and that I’m motivated by the role that is developed. That’s what we are discussing.

“Any successful F1 team has to have a reference, it has to have a senior reference and that’s the big question. We need to make sure that if I am to remain here that I’m the reference. If that can be achieved then it’s a very exciting year and that’s what we are working to.”

At the start of the year, when it became clear that Lowe was on his way and that the team was in danger of repeating the mistakes of Jaguar Racing, where there were too many leaders and no-one knew who was in charge, Brawn strongly asserted himself, “I’m the team principal and I’m in charge,” he said.

The team has evolved a lot this year and the management team is certainly capable of running without him. However they would miss him, with his extensive experience and knowledge of what it takes to succeed.

But the way things are going, it looks as though the long term role for Ross is one with less authority and that may ultimately lead him to feel that his future lies outside Mercedes.

* Meanwhile it looks like a key member of the Red Bull technical team is on the move; McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed on Saturday that Red Bull head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou, a key man in Adrian Newey’s team, has signed a contact with McLaren. Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that Prodromou will be working at his team “for some time yet.”

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52 Comments
  1. ACx says:

    Well, that makes going to McLaren interesting. It would mean Whitmarsh would have to step back, if Brawn is to be the , er, “reference”.

    1. jay jacob says:

      Not if brawn is head of technical, similar capacity to his ferrari days of todt-brawn-byrne where:

      Todt – team principal
      Brawn – head of technical
      Byrne – aerodynamics

      At McLaren / Honda, it would be :
      whitmarsh – brawn – prodromou where

      Whitmarsh – team principal
      Brawn – head of technical
      Prodromou – aerodynamics

      …sounds like the next dream team ???

      1. H.Guderian says:

        Driver: Alonso

      2. ACx says:

        In JA’s article, Brawn says this:

        “I’m the team principal and I’m in charge,” he said.”

        That is his “reference”, that is the role he wants, expects and frankly deserves, but it is also Martin’s job.

        For Brawn and Whitmarsh to operate together at McLaren, something has to give. OK, many “fans” have said Whitmarsh should go. But I dont see that happening.

      3. Craig D says:

        The words Whitmarsh and dream team sound oxymoronic to me. I don’t have anything against the guy but as a team, it’s ridiculous McLaren haven’t won a single Constructors since 1998!

      4. AlexD says:

        nope….Witmarsh is not Todt…he will not get the team there. Brawn will not agree to play the same role, he always wanted more. Maybe he would agree to replace Witmarsh.

      5. kent says:

        seems pretty clear that Brawn wants technical but not administrative responsibilities. he’s said as much before in how he and Wolff split duties.

      6. Frique says:

        With all that he’s achieved in F1 can you really see Brawn being junior to Martin?

        He’s even won a championship with his own car.

        Let me see; Paddy no longer wanted to be junior to Martin and eventually Sam….

        But you can see Ross vacating his seat for paddy and being junior to Martin.

        The more I think of this the more I can’t believe you wrote that mate.

      7. jay jacob says:

        After ferrari, brawn has only won a single championship in 9 yrs (’05 – ’13), even then it was because he was head of technical in ’08 that allowed him to perfect the double diffuser for the ’09 title winning championship.

        Brawn became team owner and team principal at brawn gp out of necessity not out of credibility; previously, he commented that Nick Fry’s presence allowed him to focus on what he does best which is technical management and not commercial / administrative.

        Will he want to continue only as team principal from here onwards? Only brawn can answer.

        Looking back at all the constructors/drivers championship that he has won, it was because he played a pivotal role as head of technical, not as team principal. This doesn’t speak well for his calibre as a team principal, and Mercedes is growing weary of waiting for a championship winning car.

      8. Rob Newman says:

        Do you think Brawn still wants to stay as Head of Technical?

  2. jakobusvdl says:

    You would imagine that Wolff and Lauda will need to manage this situation very carefully. A grumpy Ross Brawn with a point to prove would be a dangerous enemy if he left Mercedes for McLaren.
    You would imagine that for any team, a motivated Brawn would be a huge asset in the next few seasons as teams try to come to terms with the new drivetrain package, plus fuel and equipment restrictions.

    1. jay jacob says:

      Kudos !

      With Mercedes rumoured as the benchmark engine package for next year’s 1.6L turbos, brawn would carry over a wealth of knowledge / experince / know-how to help honda leap-frog / shorten the learning curve.

      Timing-wise, maclaren / honda have gotta act fast coz mandatory gardening leave is 6 mths before brawn allowed to actively participate in technical developments (if not longer).

      1. Torchwood Five says:

        Mandatory it may be, but Paddy said he barely had time to buy a bike – looking forward to the time off – before he was called to duty at Mercedes, so there are clearly ways round it.

      2. Tim says:

        I believe it was originally a 12 month notice period. This was reduced to approx’ 6 months, following some behind the scenes wrangling.
        I suspect we will see RB at Mercedes next year. RB knows his worth and has been there, seen it and done it – I daresay say he even has the t-shirt! He is just making sure Mercedes ‘treat’ him right. They also know his worth and will be reluctant to lose him. At least, that’s what I am hoping for :-)

  3. wes says:

    Mind boggling, how at this level there can still be so much ridiculousness. Now I do believe niki wants to keep Ross, he’s no fool, but I can totally see how Toto la Frodo would love to see him go. After all, he bought his ticket and now he’s gonna show the world by God. Let Toto and parry run it, neither of them have any experience at that level. I hope Ross goes to McLaren, promote Marty outta there and let Ross pilot the new bonds era, now that will be exciting, I’m thinking ross, hammy, vettel on yeah! Prob wishful thinkin, sell your stake and go home Frodo!

    1. wes says:

      Parrry should be paddy, bonds should be Honda, dang android spell check lol

      1. Tim says:

        Thank you for clarifying – I was beginning to think your post was written in some kind of code:-)

      2. Scuderia McLaren says:

        I thought he had a strike mid comment!

      3. Scuderia McLaren says:

        I thought he had a stroke mid comment!

      4. gpfan says:

        Still makes no sense.

      5. Random 79 says:

        …and Frodo? Because Toto isn’t a guy you’d call short by any stretch lol :)

  4. Xman says:

    The fact that he is discussing this in the first place shows changes are coming. He could do well as technical director ar Mclaren with whitmarsh as team principal. Ross can take care of the technical and sporting side during races and Martin to do all the general management and press. might be a dream team in the making if ferrari miss the boat next year and Honda comes up with a winner. Alonso will definitely jump ship in ’15 with a strong honda engine and Ross intergrated within Mclaren.

    1. W Johnson says:

      Good point…Mercedes clearly don’t value Ros Brawn’s input if they keep loading the team up with senior appointments…..it’s like saying to Ross, “We don’t value your opinion so much anymore, that’s why we are looking for new ideas”.

    2. Frique says:

      What is wrong with you people on here. This is the place I come to for sanity. As opposed to Sky/bbc/PF1 etal. Please see my response to post No.1. Aaaaahhhhhhhh :-)

      1. jay jacob says:

        Mate, I don’t think you should curtail comments from other readers…kinda sounds like you perceive their comments/opinions as inferior in comparison to yours.

        So, the door opens both ways…you can go out the same way you came in, no one is forcing you to stay but while here pls respect others as you would have them respect you.

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      Trouble is I have read somewhere that Brawn doesn’t have a good memory of working with Honda, and I am not referring to Honda pulling out at short notice. More to do with their work practices.

      1. Xman says:

        Thats a good point. He has already experienced what it was like to work with Honda. That alone may be the deciding factor. Its great though to discuss the movements of these key players, their choice is as important or even more important than most drivers.

      2. Adrian J says:

        Yes, but Honda won’t be running the team at McLaren, they’ll be producing the engines…

  5. Jonathan says:

    So Merc must find a way to motivate Ross.

    They don’t want him but, perhaps more importantly, they don’t want anyone else to have him!

    A shameful way to treat the man that delivered the next generation Silver Arrows that Merc couldn’t find with McLaren.

  6. Jota180 says:

    Lauda is far too assertive to allow Braun [or anyone else] 100% free rein, I suspect his bluntness doesn’t help the situation.

    As for Prodromou working for RB “for some time yet.”
    Maybe sweeping up in the loading bay

  7. Anne says:

    Well it seems Ross is not very happy at Merc at the moment. It´s clear he wants to be the boss and not just one of many bosses. The thing with McLaren is that they already have a team principal. I´m not so sure Ross wants to be only a technical director.

  8. tara_185 says:

    Just to clarify: does that mean that Peter will stay at RB till the end of the year? Surely they’re not bothering to update the rb9?

    1. Andrewinwork says:

      The sooner they release him the more he’ll be able to help McLaren. My bet it’ll be Friday 4.59pm of the last day of his contract before they let him go. Until then he’ll be filing and making tea away and far away from anything sensitive. Mercmanaged to get Paddy Lowe early purely by dangling the carrot of engines for next year to Mclaren

      1. KRB says:

        I guess McLaren could stop supplying Renault with their alternators?

      2. Jota180 says:

        It’s reported that he is under RB contract until 2015
        RB can’t simply put him on gardening leave until then, there are legal precedents regarding this, I think 6 months is the maximum they could do this for before allowing him to leave.
        So they have to fully involve him or let him go – following a few months gardening leave.
        My bet is pragmatism will win through and McL will pay RB off so that he starts work at Woking 1/1/14

  9. Sven says:

    In polite words what Brawn is saying that he wants to be the boss or otherwise he leave, and rightly so.
    A as clear a message as possible to Lauda and Wolf.
    That it is made in public makes it even stronger.

  10. Aran says:

    About time someone went the other way, seems like McLaren have had loads of their staff hired away this season.

  11. KRB says:

    That Prodromou scoop seems quite big to me … the first big defection out of the RBR technical camp.

    F1 really needs some of their secrets spread around.

    JA, have you heard anymore backstory around this move? What’s Prodromou’s thinking or motivation behind it?

    1. Tim says:

      Maybe he has grown tired of being in the shadow of Adrian Newey. I would imagine it must be wearisome with Newey being credited (with the success of the car) all the time.

      1. Olivier says:

        It is a big worry to Red Bull. Suddenly Newey’s successor is gone …

      2. Lee says:

        I think you’re spot on with your observation here. Horner and Vettel are so keen to massage Newey’s ego, probably out of a fear he will leave, and the media so keen to perpetuate the Newey legend they have made a grave error in neglecting to spread some of the praise around the RBR technical dept.

        RBR built it’s technical team around Newey who had the vision but people like Prodromou had to make it work on the car. Aero concepts are self evident, they are on show for all to see but copying them is another matter. For that you need someone with experience of making the ideas work, everything from refining concepts to working out how to manufaure it. Big tick for McLaren.

  12. Alec Tronnach says:

    Maybe the FIA needs to bring in a ‘salary cap’ rule to stop the big teams buying up all the experts and then hiding them away so the other teams can’t use them.

    This could be part of the cost cutting rules they want to bring in.

  13. gpfan says:

    Honda will supply engines from 2015.
    In 2016, Honda will purchase one of
    their smaller customers.

    In 2017 (or earlier) Brawn will be
    installed as the team principal.

    1. chris says:

      Non-sense,honda had its own team in the 50,s/60,s,came out with a experimental car with some good ideas,a driver(sorry his name escapes me)Died in the car,they quit immediately,next time they had there own team was the button/earth dream car thingy,the whole thing went wrong,honda are an engine supplier and they know it,its what they are good at.

      1. gpfan says:

        The driver was Jo Schlesser. You may be more familiar with his son (or his nephew) at a
        certain Italian GP.

  14. Thompson says:

    I said Paddy really was in no man’s land earlier in the season.

    Ross is doing an excellent job and it would be crazy to disrupt the team now – Lowe’s position was always oquestionable given Ross’s history. Toto really would look foolish to disrupt things especially if it went back to what it was last season.

    The Schumacher years masked
    Ross’s ability (by anny means necessary) as a front runner.

    Described Brawn as a tooth chipper earlier this season looks like it’s time for some tooth chippin!

  15. Roger W says:

    I think Ross would be a good fit in McLaren. He may not want to walk away from Mercedes “job incomplete” but maybe a fresh challenge as a “reference” in a UK team, with a driver he has worked with before may not be beyond the realms of fantasy. Seniority and job descriptions are mere boardroom tittle tattle and are relatively easy to resolve with willing parties.

  16. Harrison says:

    Perhaps Ross should buy Toto’s shares in Williams
    and work his magic to put Williams back where they should be.
    Ross thrives on a challenge and that would be
    a fantastic achievement to get them to a constructors championship

  17. p jones says:

    There is not doubt about RB and his ability to do the job at whatever team. Merc seem to have a very top heavy team with too many chiefs. I realy don’t know what input toto wolf has to offer apart from money? who is he?and why is he so high up in the merc pecking order?

  18. Mike says:

    I think Ross going to Williams is a better move for him and for Williams. Sir Frank must be nearly ready to pack it in and without Toto to take over they’ll need an experienced team principal to lead the team and start making some headway up the championship tables. I just can’t see Martin Whitmarsh getting the boot at McLaren and Ross won’t work under him.

  19. nusratolla says:

    Sir Ross,

    Please return to Ferrari for Kimi is there :)

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