F1 Winter Break
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff denies plan to replace Ross Brawn
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Jan 2013   |  2:25 pm GMT  |  194 comments

New Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff has denied speculation that he plans to replace Ross Brawn as team principal of the Mercedes F1 team, but refused to be drawn on stories that he plans to hire McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe,

Speaking in a Mercedes organised teleconference, in which JA on F1 participated, Wolff (41) said,

“It would be foolish to talk about replacing anyone… That is speculation in the media, I think I would be aware of that. Ross is there and he is part of the team and I hope Ross is going to stay as long as possible.

“Paddy is a recognised person in the paddock, he has been with McLaren for 15 or 20 years. I’ve read it in the paper, that’s all I can tell you. Obviously in F1 there is always a lot of speculation about personalities joining or not joining, but there’s nothing I can tell you at this stage.”

He denied that there had been a plan in place for Lowe to join Williams and this has been converted into a move with Wolff to Mercedes, “there is no truth in it,” he said.

Wolff only took on his new job yesterday, but already there is rife speculation, most of it originating in Germany with Bild newspaper. However BBC Sport website ran a story today with insight from Eddie Jordan, who broke the Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes story last September, that Wolff and Niki Lauda planned to replace Brawn and run the team themselves.

Jordan’s theory is as follows: “”Paddy Lowe is going to Mercedes and it would appear that Brawn and Fry are on their way out, and Lowe will be there in a very senior capacity. Lowe won’t be technical director; he’ll be more senior than that. But he won’t be called team principal either,” Jordan said, “because that will be Wolff. But Lowe will effectively be running the team on a day-to-day basis.”

Sources in Germany have indicated that Lowe’s future is under discussion in Woking and Brackley, but the 50 year old engineer has a contract at McLaren to the end of 2013 and will not be released sooner.

Wolff clarified that Lauda’s role is as non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team, reporting to the Daimler board but without executive day to day functions, whereas Brawn will be responsible for the technical side of the team and Wolff will represent Mercedes’ interests. As for the future of the CEO of the team, Nick Fry, Wolff said only “we are looking into that situation”.

Wolff will drop all his other activities and focus on his new role with Mercedes, which involves him being a 30% shareholder in the Mercedes F1 team. He confirmed that there are no silent partners in his shareholding and that he is doing it alone. He has stepped back from the management of Valtteri Bottas, who will now be handled by Mika Hakkinen’s former manager Didier Coton, who also has a hand in managing Lewis Hamilton.

Clearly having a partner like Wolff who is also a shareholder, gives Mercedes options going forward in case the project of team ownership does not work out. And clearly as shareholders Wolff and Lauda will have more clout than Brawn. It was interesting to note Wolff’s comment that he had not yet spoken to Brawn, which seems odd given how closely the pair will be working and considering that the deal to bring Wolff to Mercedes has been in discussion for a couple of weeks, according to the Austrian.

“Mercedes is committed to F1 and to doing it for many years from now,” Wolff said. “I’m very proud to have the possibility to be a partner and a kind of managing partner of Mercedes in F1. This is what they were looking for someone who is a co-shareholder and a partner and who is looking after their interests in F1.”

Asked what his brief is from the Daimler board, Wolff said, “Daimler (owner of Mercedes) is one of the best brands in the world. They came into F1 to be successful and to be perceived as being successful, being a top team. This is what the board is expecting and this is the goal. We will be working flat out.”

Wolff also confirmed that former F1 driver Robert Kubica in a DTM car shortly and will be closely monitoring his progress and rehabilitation.

Asked again by JA on F1 at the end of the conference if he could clarify that replacing Brawn is not his objective he said,

“I haven’t been in Brackley and had conversations with Ross. I admire what Ross has done. I need to sit down and understand the structure….Ross’ track record is fantastic…I need some time to understand the situation and to take time and analyse. It would be foolish to speak about replacing anyone. They are good people and that’s where I am right now.”

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It sounds like Fry is definitely out straight away but they need to assure Brawn before dumping him later when Paddy's ready to move.


This is a lot to be happening at the management level of any F-1 team, let alone with 53 days to the first race!

For this to be happening at Mercedes F-1, after the seemingly continuous additions and changes, is even more disconcerting.

It would seem the situation at Merc would best be described as 'fluid'.


Foolish to 'talk' about replacing him- that doesn't mean they haven't considered it.


That's what it sounds like to me. They don't want Brawn on gardening leave. Maybe Mclaren will snatch up Brawn?


In the Italian press Ascanelli has been reported to join a UK-based team shortly, so that might tie into the fact that McLaren will be looking for a technical director soon?

Really a lot of speculation going on at the moment, but Wolff has become a important factor in a very short period of time. Not sure I trust his words too much though, as he is also the man that not so long ago was up to a long term commitment with Williams. Not to say that EJ's current street credibility is better than Toto's....


Williams or Sauber wouldn't be bad shouts IF Brawn wanted to continue in F1.

Sauber because of the old Ferrari connection and Williams because funnily enough, he'd fit in there.

Failing that, get a load of chums together, pay Dr Mallya a visit and revive Brawn GP?


Mr Allen,reading beetwin the lines of your

reply you are so splendid and articulate that is why you are Numero Uno in my book.I have met

with E Jordan in Sydney Australia. A shrewd and knowlagable person, certain things he may tell they are spot on, so good you can take them to the bank.

Mr Allen fact,success breed success and R Brawn

hasn't had any lately what odds are he take a next bus to Maranello his stomping ground or

isn't the simply like Amy Winehouse singnature

song, Back to Back your coments if any please.


I'd imagine he'd be more likely to retire than go back to Maranello, but you never know in this game

BBC Online colleagues are very confident on this one (as they were on Hamilton to Merc story last year). They've been working on it for some time and have plenty of back up, so watch this space..


Sauber is not an option as they are culturally a unique team - they don't like having a big shot pulling all strings. It didn't work with Postlethwaite, Gascoyne and Key. I doubt they would try again.


I like how you put a big "IF".

Man cashed in big with this Honda/Brawn/Mercedes thing. Obviously we don't know the man personally, but it really makes you wonder if he doesn't want to go and work on his boat and move on now. He's done enough for F1.

He has been instrumental to saving many jobs, so they can't just push out a hero and saviour of the team. Brawn is probably leaving, but of his free will. At least that's what it has to look like to everyone without doubt.


Oh Lewis, what have you gotten yourself into...


how do you no that lewis didnt push for the Lowe move??


Why does this have to be bad for lewis.If anything it shows that the team is doing everything to win.They are building a strong team and securing their future.Surely this can only be good news for the whole team, lewis included.


Mercedes with Brawn and Haug at the head is a different proposition to Mercedes with Wolff, Lauda and Paddy Lowe at the helm. Believe me, I hope I'm wrong and I hope Mercedes storm the grid over the next few years, but I just can't help the feeling this sounds like Toyota/BMW all over again, with corporate board reporting and matrix structures; on past results, that type of organisation just doesn't work in F1.


And as well...

Even if it works brilliantly, this much upheaval could easily take a couple of years to bed down (think early '90s Benetton again. Flav came in to a moderately well performing team, demanded better results than the current crew were delivering, declared they'd grown complacent & kicked the star designer out... and -some years- later had moved the team forwards.

That could be a great result for Mercedes, but a bit slow for Lewis' career...


+1...as carole king sang: "i feel the earth move under my feet..." 🙂


Oh Lewis indeed.


A big mess it looks like but Brawn might not be gone.


I may be totally wrong, but what I imagine I'm hearing is that Ross is welcome to stay on as head of the technical team...but he's been removed from the board level team principal type stuff, and if he doesn't accept the demotion he's gone.

In all honesty, I'm not sure that he isn't more effective staying at the tech level. But whether he'll stay and suck it up seems like a very different thing.

Best analogy I have (for a role one tier down) is when Flav demoted Rory Byrne from what was effectively the TD role at Benetton, and brought Brawn in over his head although Ross had much less F1 experience at the time. Rory walked (to Brackley, another story), but came back and was -far- more effective working under Ross's direction than he had been when he was the main man.

Just my imagining.


@ Frank Dernie - I knew it was Tom who introduced him, but I'd assumed it was Flav's ultimate call to give him the top job when Barnard left, and to bring Rory in as his junior rather than vice versa. But that was just my assumption.


Ross was brought in by Tom Walkinshaw, not Flavio.


Thing is, looking at it retrospectively, Flav is one of the best managers in F1 ever. For all of the shady stuff, you can't discredit him.

I've always believed that the best manager is the one who can get the right people to the right positions and, well, manage them, as his job title says after all, in order to make them fulfill their potential.


Lauda will ruin this team.


crossed my mind too


Agree.....or it will shot to the top in five years


Has -Lewis- got 5 years to wait?


It's kill or cure stuff, isn't it?


Well that's clear, Fry and Brawn are out.


I would like to see Brawn in another team but not his old team. Maybe Force India?


I'm thinking more about McLaren. No one expected Sam Michael to be snapped up by McLaren after he was kicked out, so you never know about Brawn!

It'd be good for McLaren if they can get Brawn on board.


Fry is out already, right?

Do you think Brawn even makes it to the first GP? I have a feeling in a week or so he'll call it a day.

I recall him wishing to scale back his activities a while back already. Now that Schumi is gone, he's fulfilled his obligation to Michael and the Team. Perfect time to call it a day.




James has reported. on more than one occasion, the steps RB is taking to support an exit strategy -- and well before even Lauda started stirring the pot.


Fry certainly , Brawn I'm not so sure


Not surprised about Fry if he's given the boot. What has he done since 2008/09 anyway when Brawn came in? It's always seem to me that he is never good at the job of managing an F1 team. Even being a CEO of the team taking care of the commercial side of things, I haven't seem him doing anything. What has he done for the team so far?


I think Brawn will throw in the towel himself, with Wolff, Lauda an possibly Lowe, i don't think the team still suits Brawn's style of leadership.


Yeah well. I´ve seen denials before that ended up being the true, the whole true and nothing but the true. EJ broke the news on BBC. He has been right before. I trust EJ until proven otherwise


What denial?

-Wolff denied that Lowe was ever slated to join Williams.

- Then he 'no commented' the Lowe to Mercedes story.

Put those two together.

Then he said that he didn't want Brawn to leave - and immediately emphasised that he's in charge of the structure (i.e., who gets what job) & that he hasn't made any decisions about it yet.

So he's saying publicly that it's up to him if Ross keeps his job or gets offered another less senior one, and that he hasn't decided which, although he doesn't actually want Ross to leave.

That's pretty fast work for a guy who's been in role for 24 hours,

My guess is that the only thing standing between us and an official statement thanking Ross for his contribution is the time the lawyers need to agree the severance package.


Although I find EJ a bit of an oath as a TV pundit, as a journo he tends to be spot on.

Think Ross started at Williams, so maybe that will appeal to him - revival of a sleeping giant - he has form!


that would depend on who's briefing EJ, doesn't it.

I wouldn't call him anything but a mic that interested parties use to broadcast things


I think its bernie which makes it more interesting and saaaaadly makes this true . I want Brawn in the team 🙁


I suspect its someone from the Telegraph , someone with close Mercedes links


Call him anything you want. That doesn´t change the fact that he has been right before


Yup, seems fairly clear that Nick Fry is history and that Ross won't be far behind him.

Anyone else think that the boss of a team with red cars should be looking over his shoulder if RB hits the open market.


I am sure John Booth at Marussia is.


Let Fry go, but very, very foolish to let Ross Brawn go, his track record is there to be seen, also brilliant at race strategy


That 4 stop dry race win at Ferrari with Schumi was an awesome call. What performance from Michael too putting in GP worth of perfect qualifying laps.

My all time favorite however, 1998 British Grand Prix. That end of race call in one word was: PRICELESS! One of the funniest things I've ever seen in a GP. Still makes me laugh to this day when I recall it.

I would not wish to play chess against Brawn indeed.

Scuderia McLaren

Yep the late 1990's held some amazing races with epic strategic calls from Brawn and mega execution from Schumacher. The races you all mention, Britain 98, Hungary 98, France 06 (think you might mean 04 maybe), are great examples. To add to that list, I always get mesmerised by Suzuka 00. Nice cat and mouse game between Mclaren and Ferrari strategists and supreme driving from Mika and Michael. The dynamic duo came out on top that day.


The 2006 French GP, Alonso was ahead and they called MSC in early for his 2nd stop. It was as they got to the third that Renault realised they had been duped.

Funnily enough, I was watching that race about 3 weeks ago.

I appreciate how 1998 British GP looked, but the ultimate Brawn strategy had to be Hungary 1998. 3 stopping MSC and asking for 19 qualifying laps to beat the Mclarens. Unbelievable.

Val from montreal

My oh my hero was senna ... What has gotten in to you lately ? First you agree that MSC could of won the 2007 championship and now praising some of his spectacular races like Hungary 98 and France 04 ?? Have you been reading some of his books lately and finally begun seeing the light like I have been doing for the past 18 years or so ?? Whats up with that ! ; )) .... No but in seriousness I think history will forever link MSC + Todt + Brawn + Byrne , just like Michael Jordan will forever be associated to Phil Jackson , Magic Johnson to Larry Bird etc ...Your only as good as your weakest link ..... That Ferrari dream team was really a once in a lifetime event .... But now we have another possible "mini" dream-team unfolding at Red Bull ...Horner, Vettel , Newey .. Why do Red Bull have to change their Formula if they can keep on winning titles ? I dont see why Vettel HAS to change team and switch to Ferrari .... Vettel and Newey together can win another 7 world titles , so why break that Formula ?


Those two sure could tango around the competition!

Another case of time going by and we will finally realize what we were witnessing.


Yeah, remember watching that race, wining the race in the pitlane, was a great call and it worked, brawn ran rings round the opposite back then, hope he stays


Fair play to you standing in the rain, don't think anyone knew who had won even Murray Walker, but they had some cheek to pull that move, brilliant


It wasn't if you were there as I was in the rain... At club corner we were completely confused.... the days before mobiles and apps

Scuderia McLaren

Honestly, I am truly confused. I can normally, and quite quickly, get my head around various corporate structures and management tiers.

Lauda, Brawn, Fry, Wolff, Bell, Willis and maybe Lowe? I mean, what the heck is going on. This situation really looks like a receipe for disaster.

Someone does a bit of this, someone does a bit of that, someone does a bit of the other. No one is really accountable for anything in particular. Perhaps this is too simplistic a veiw, but I think we might be saying bye bye to Mr. Hamilton for a few years...

This might end up not being a recoverable situation for Lewis if he has 2-3 non-spectacular seasons. Lest we forget, Villeneuve was the next best thing and many were saying he was just the most naturally talented in the paddock during 1996,97. Then one season after the other of mediocrity with a well funded BAR (now Mercedes) turned him into a joke. It happens.

It seems Tyrell, BAR, Honda, Brawn and Mercedes is where great talent goes to die. (with the exception of that 2009 Brawn year of course)...


Don't forget, Aldo Costa also works there.

Pre Villeneuve destroying his career, you also had Fittipaldi do the same with his brothers team Copersucar in the late 70's.

Scuderia McLaren

+ 2

Ahhh yes. Good pick up Hero Was Senna. Knew about Costs (but slipped my mind), but forgot about poor Fittipaldi.


On that basis Button is a dead man walking as he was at BAR, Honda, Brawn..........

Scuderia McLaren

I have already stated the 2009 Brawn GP year as the exception, which includes Button. By the way, that team did almost end Button too. By end 2008, the single GP winner was going to be standing in the unemployment line. The highly unique double decker corcumstances saved the boy. After he won 2008 WDC, I got the sense from his words that he was thinking, "right, that was close. just got saved. taking whatever credibility I have and getting out of here!" He built himself back up against Hamilton and his stock certainly improved ten fold. And good on the boy.


Or is it Mclaren...

Scuderia McLaren

Good point.


Wolff has to say, Brawn - please stay. Don't go.

Brawn has to say, thank you Wolff, but I wish to call it a day.

It's the only way this play can work out. Brawn has done too much for the team and all the employees. If Wolff would appear to push him out, he would instantly create a bad relationship with the team. He has to minimize that and make the transition smooth. Even with above play by play he still likely may find a degree of resistance.

I really like your last sentence. Poetic truth supported by facts...where great talent goes to die.

I'm letting you know right now, I may have to use that line in the future. 🙂

Scuderia McLaren

Interesting insight Sebee. I think you might be onto something with Toto / Ross events unfolding. Thanks for you compliment, that last sentence is all yours to use my friend. 😉

Scuderia McLaren

I think there are legs in what Sebee has said. I like Brawn a lot. I respect him even more. The "Brawn GP" year still amazes me. But I don't see him back with the prancing horse again. This is probably a choreographed exit for the man from Mercedes. I think, and am betting, he might just simply call it a day. Shame, but that F1 when targets don't get met ASAP.



I think everyone here, Scuderia included, will agree that Brawn is an exception to the above comment. We can all agree that he could not only run a team, perfect strategy, win, win, and win but he could run the whole F1 show if he set his mind on it.

As long as I can remember I always thought of Brawn as a good replacement for Bernie.


Scud,mate love you like a brother but you are

drifting outside of the paddock.

Ross Brawn is a legend second to none, I wish

his next bus stop being Maranello and lets

face its Mr S. Domenicali need the carrot he

hasn't made the grade since Ross left.



To all you doomsday advocates....

I say, stifle your panic! These are highly competent people Mercedes are drafting into the fold. Total experience, that will transcend any transitional chaos....

Although, I'm a big fan of Ross Brawn, these are performance based decisions being made (if all these rumors prove to be fact). And sometimes the higher echelon, just, has to make sweeping changes and bring in new management to start afresh.

All the same, I'm not sure Brawn got the total support from Team Mercedes that he needed to assure success, the past three years. But now, it's a new day for that F1 squad and they're pulling out all the stops. They seem to mean business....


It sounds like Fry is going immediately and that Brawn could be replaced by Paddy Lowe but heaven knows why? Ross deserves better than this.


Lewis youve left McLaren to get away from Whitmarsh and now you might not have Ross there, I hope your contract has a good get out off clause!!!


To everyone getting their knickers in a twist Toto Wolff actually said in his Teleconference 'I want Ross to Stay.'


Yeah, just not necessarily unless he'll take a less senior role, depending on what I feel like which I haven't decided yet.

This is the least convincing vote of confidence I've heard for, oh, at least a week...


What is going on at Mercedes? Surely its not just all happening 2 months before the new season. It sounds very unstable at the moment, nothing about the car but all about the boardroom politics. I mean im distracted and i am just regular F1 fan, what if you were Lewis or Nico?!


Maybe they are trying to get everything in place for 2014. It would be unlikely they can make a giant leap with this year's car as it's so similar to last year. Maybe they're sacrificing this year to ensure that everything is exactly how they want it for 2014, when they will have, by all accounts, the best engine. Maybe Lewis has been aware of this plan and is fully signed up to it.

And maybe not.


For me the most interesting wrinkle on all this is how much Lewis knew in advance and what he'll make of it all.

He's made a big deal of being frustrated with Mclaren technically as well as managerial lay, and now it looks like Mclaren's main man is parachuting into Brackley...


Being ticked off with an entire management structure doesn't mean you don't like any (or even, though less likely, all) of the people within that structure. Maybe Lewis even suggested Lowe? Maybe that was all part of the plan in the same way Schumacher brought Brawn to Ferrari?


James the question is the following: did Hamilton know that Brawn is or might be on his way out? If this new developing story caught him by surprised, and if his plan was to work with Brawn at Mercedes then it looks like he was deceived by a lie


Wolff said that he has only been working on this for two weeks, so his part in it is very recent. I doubt HAM knew that Haug was going to be dropped. But it will all come out soon


I don´t know. If I were Brawn I would calling Ferrari asking to have a meeting


Please anywhere but Ferrari.

They don't deserve him now.


Would not go back to italy for family reasons . Am a Kimi fan and think Brawn would give the Lotus F1 technical department a kick the backside along with Rory Byrne.


Enstone + Brawn + Byrne?

Whatever makes you think that would be a good idea?



Since when has the BBC begin to report rumor as fact . I never expected such appalingly low standards of f1 journalism.


To be fair Eddie Jordan is a commentator and opinion piece - not a journalist. Just because he works for the BBC doesn't automatically make someone a journalist.

And Eddie usually has good briefing. His statements about Lewis preempted the whole thing with total accuracy. He may annoy a lot of viewers but he does get to speak to people with insider stories they want divulging.


precisely. someone with an agenda goes to EJ and get it plastered on bbc.

the only thing is whether having the bbc broadcast it would nudge a possibility of an event towards being an actual event.


Hamilton moving to Mercedes was important news in the F1. Do you think EJ talked to one person only? Something like this comes from more that one source.


Since 2009


Who got it right about Schumacher come back? Who got it right about Lewis going to Mercedes? BBC. They broke those news


Actually Kevin Garside told Eddie


That´s not the point. BBC broke the news and they were right. There is no reason to have many doubts this time.


Ross brawn getting fired? Are merc crazy. U don't sck the man who has won more championships in the past 20 years than anyone else. And was it not big Ross who sold the merc dream to Lewis. Ross brawn back to Ferrari ? Don't think so. Were else tho. Don't see him at mclaren or red bull either.


It was Brawn and Haug that talked Lewis into Mercedes, one is already gone and looks as if the other will soon say his final word (at Mercedes)...

Christian Hepworth

This is actually fascinating, and I'd love to be a fly on the wall get the thoughts of Lewis Hamilton about this. It seems that the Mercedes he is joining now is potentially about to become a very different beast to the one he thought he was joining.

It will be very interesting to see how this develops in the coming months.


i dont think Lewis would be to worried.All he has ever wanted was a fast car that can give him a chance to win races. Like most F1 drivers these days they say the right things at the right times.Like when lewis signed with merc he bigged up brawn.If its Lowe next then he will do the same again.

Also i think ross brawn did well to save the team but since it became merc hes not done much and i think that the big wigs at merc feel like they have given brawn full control of the team for enough time now and have stepped in and want to shack things up a bit.

Thats just my view for what is is worth.


"I’d love to be a fly on the wall get the thoughts of Lewis Hamilton about this. It seems that the Mercedes he is joining now is potentially about to become a very different beast to the one he thought he was joining".

Is it? I wouldn't assume he didn't know.

Christian Hepworth


I wouldn't assume he did know either. Reading around various places today gives the impression that this news comes as a bit of a shock. I'd be surprised if Lewis had known. He might still have signed, but he seemed sold on the Brawn team and their vision for the future. Maybe the new teams vision is different?


Quite right. Hamilton is tied into the team for the next 3 years. How about Rosberg?

With management changing daily at Merc how many of the recently arrived, highly regarded engineers will stay the course?

Christian Hepworth

Very good point, it might not be just Brawn who goes, but a host of others. Although they might not. It could be the silver bullet needed or put them back longer. Either way, it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Lauda didn't exactly work magic at Jaguar did he!


If there was any substance in the rumor, and if i were Montezemolo, i wouldn't waste a day in replacing Stefano Domenicalli with Ross Brawn ( if Mr.Brawn is interested i.e.). Ross as team principal, Pat Fry as the technical director and Alonso behind wheels would be a force to reckon with.

It is such a shame that Mercedes F1 that showed so much promise at the beginning of 2010 is headed in the same direction as Jaguar / Toyota. A board trying to run a F1 team is never a good idea.


Mercedes must hate how F1 is a constant media scandal. All this does is de-stabilize the team and make it less likely that they can achieve what Mercedes would like. And why now? Why not at the end of last season? Sloppy.

Val from montreal

What did Schumacher say when he heard of Haug's departure/firing ? " This will tear a massive hole within the team " .....If sources in Germany say Ross Brawn is out, rumor or not, it will eventually happen sooner than later .. They can hire more staff and extra brains but it wont change a thing when your biggest rivals has twice your annual budget , better facilities, a structured CULTURE within the team etc ... I stll think Rosberg will be faster than Hamilton not by much but enough to spoil Lewis's fun .... Hamilton 's career is basically headed for failure ..


Sorry Elie,

Although a highly skilled Grand Prix pilot, Nico Rosberg has never come close to showing the overall ability or consistent speed and talent of Lewis Hamilton during both of these drivers, very, parallel careers.

As Fernando Alonso has pointed out repeatedly, (and I can't understand why all F1 fans aren't getting this)"Hamilton has the ability to win in a slower F1 car that has no business doing such"-hence, the fastest driver on the grid from race to race....

However saying that, I see Nico as upping his game on a grand scale and challenging Lewis, much as Jenson Button did at McLaren.


A quick apology to you Elie!

I intended to address my reply to Val from Montreal!


Val , your not talking logically. Last year you kept rabitting on about Michael Schumacher matching Roseberg now you "think" or rather say Roseberg will be better than Lewis. If Lewis drives anything like he did in 2012- it could indirectly mark the end of Nicos career by the end of 2013: because Mercedes are clearly here for the long Haul and they will want 2 winning drivers.

Val from montreal

Who says Rosberg is not fast ? Just because Nico is'nt as "popular" as Lewis Hollywood Hamilton does not mean he cant beat him ? Button aint the fastest driver in the world but he still outscored Lewis did'nt he ? Just because Rosberg was slower compared to MSC in 2012 does not mean he sucks ! And why is Fernando still "the" reference to some around here ? Just because Lewis exposed Alonso in 2007 does not make Lewis Hamilton the fastest man on earth ....


Val in previous posts you kept saying that Michael was at least a match for him. Sorry but the inference is that he's not all that!. I don't care which driver is popular or not I judge them on their speed and whilst its more than possible for Nicp to beat Lewis if he has a bad year. Many drivers have already warned Nico of his speed including Jenson, Fernando & they would know-only they've raced against him in equal machinery.

I for one completely agree with you in saying any driver can be beaten in equal machinery/ opportunity that's not out of question. The top 6 even 8!drivers are not separated by much . I just think that Raikkonen and Hamilton are the most naturally gifted racers & grow weary of all the Alonso / Vettel fanatics who actually listen to the hype . Many of these people wrote Raikkonen off before last season started- but i always knew he was top3 material in a reasonably quick car.


Very true Hamilton is nowhere near the fastest driver on the grid, Vettel, Hulkenberg and maybe Grosjean and Webber are faster, Alonso and Vettel's overall abilities makes them better all rounders than Hamilton, we'll see what he's made of if the Mercedes is not fast enough like last year's Ferrari and see if he can still fight for the championship, I for one doubt it very much, even though any pole or win like Schumi in Monaco and Roaberg in China will have the fan boys rushing to say Hamilton is the best ever but the truth is the years at Mclaren has flattered him. Its Vettel whos going to claim another title in the next 2 seasons and then he will join Ferrari and retire Alonso.


As much as I think Hamilton is the most overrated driver in F1 because most of the british and English speaking fans thinks he's the very best in F1 but in actual fact Vettel is the best and fastest with Alonso closely 2nd overall, ok the point is, Hamilton is very fast and he will blow Rosberg away in quali and races but this Mercedes team looks set to become a team of clowns, Brawn will take the close to £200million he's made in F1 and retire, Toto Wolff congratulations, take the team and lets see what you can do, I suspect not much.

Mike from Colombia

Yeah..thats why he keeps on winning your Canadian grand prix year after year.


You must be one hell of a pundit, you need a job at Autosport. I can't wait to read your arguement.


Everyone's entitled to their own opinion I guess but seriously... If Rosberg out qualifies Hamilton for the majority of races in 2013 I will personally send you £10,000 and then I'll eat a rabid dog.

In other words, it ain't gonna happen 😉


I wonder when Susie Wolff will be announced as a 'Development Driver'...!


My thoughts exactly


Toto - Mission Statement

It's gonna take a lot to take me away from Williams.

I can do what a hundred men or more could never do.

I claim the reigns down at AMG F1.

Gonna take some time to do the things we never have.


Sebee your on a roll- first the Alanis Morrisette reply now the "Toto" lyrics brilliant 🙂


Without doubt that comment is so good, Toto should print it, frame it and place it in his office ASAP! 🙂


Love it! You're showing your age, though (& mine) 😉



I have to say, this comment is one of my recent favorites. One for the older F1 fans.


I feel for Lewis. I think one of the main reasons for joining Mercedes was to work with Ross Brawn. Let's hope Lewis can come through this with his reputation and speed intact


If one of Hamilton's main reasons for going to Mercedes really was to work with Ross Brawn, I suspect that would have been made a condition in the contract. Essentially, "Brawn goes, I go."


Hamilton's reason for going to Mercedes was for money. Plain and simple and he figures he can weather a few seasons with a potentially weak car. Then he will look for his retirement team.

His statement about turning the team around are fantastic. If he can do so by getting on the radio and saying that the car is rubbish then I'd say he's gonna be brilliant. If it requires a different skillset then it may not be so rosy.


Even if that were true, where is he going to go now?


I think the only way it will seriously damage Lewis is if he gets beaten by Rosberg a la Schumacher.


Not going to happen, Rosberg can't even beat Webber who got trounced by king Vettel 4 years on the trot, Hamilton isn't as good as Vettel but hes just as fast and would beat Webber more often than not, Rosberg is in for a shock.


Don't get me wrong, I'll be very surprised if Rosberg comes close to Lewis; I expect Lewis to outperform him, probably not as badly as Kovalainen but more comprehensively than Jenson.

My point was that, even if Mercedes produce a dog over the next few years, as long as Lewis performs strongly compared to Rosberg I don't think his reputation as a driver will be damaged, similar to how Alonso's reputation (as a driver) wasn't damaged in 2008-09when he returned to Renault. Having said that, if McLaren are there or thereabouts in the world title hunt in the next few years, people may well question his judgement in going to Merc in the first place.

It's going to be an interesting couple of years for Lewis fans at any rate!


Brawn will stay . Bild and Eddie Jordan are wrong this time.


Why do you think he hasn't spoken to him yet? I agree with the article, it sounds a bit strange


I think Merc F1 have a plan, and a structure already outlined. The trouble for Brawn and Fry is they do not fit into it. Whether Bell, Costa, Willis and some other members of the Brawn gang do remains to be seen.

If I was a betting man I would say not. This sounds like a complete management restructure in a similar way that we see in large high profile private sector companies all over the world after a period of no success.


To be honest anyone who knows Lauda and Brawn just a little can probably imagine that those 2 never will be best mates in my view. So I'm not that surprised of Brawn leaves (he probably would leave himself anyway, Toto or not). Fry was not a significant pawn after Brawn years, other than managing commercial interests at Merc.

The whole thing still makes no sense to me at all, Toto finding upwards of $50m to buy 30% given Mercedes bought 75% (together with arabs) for reportedly $150 back in 2009(nice deal Mr Brawn!).

I also can't believe Frank Williams would just let this happen. Sure he would not stand in the way of a Tito joining Mercedes board as a life time opportunity but surely now he is part race team owner and still a major shareholder in Williams, crazy!

Is all of this the work of Mr. E and other powers that be to ensure Mercedes stays in F1 (cause lets face it it would be a disaster if they pulled the plug)?

I hope Ross Brawn goes to McLaren and kicks the ***t out of Mercedes 🙂 (Imagine how Jenson and Lewis respectively would feel if that happened!!)


Good comment Gul. Nary a whisper about the car, development, tyre management,,,,,nada. In truth Merc"s off-track antics are far more interesting than on-track.


I don't think Ross has been able to turn Honda around... A trick diffuser causes people to foget what a shambles this whole team is. Once they fired Haug you knew there was going to be wholesale house cleaning within Mercedes Motorsport.


I agree Eric. The success with the 'trick diffuser' was skill but also possibly not easily repeatable, and so a bit lucky. Still Ross is obviously good. But is he rich and tired? Has he lost his edge? Do Mercedes hope to get someone who's hungrier, someone who might be be the next clever boy?

The loose cannon for me in all this is Niki. Niki was a skillful and extremely brave driver. Over the years he's not been shy about speaking his mind. I don't see him as a team player. Will this be bad for the team?

Am I wrong?


James, last year Joe Saward insinuated that Bernie was Eddie's source, do you think that's true or likely?


Eddie is Bernie's puppet no doubt about it, they go back a long way


You must be naive if you don't think the ringmaster is feeding Jordan


Does anyone think Williams could get Mercedes power out of the deal for Toto Wolf?? Also why does Mercedes have so many chiefs? I think that only makes team work and continuity more difficult.


I do not think it all sound very positive for Mercedes and I am sure that Lewis Hamilton is very worried, very-very worried!

Lauda, Wolff, Daimler Board, executive reporting, non executive reporting - corporate structure is just not going to be successful in F1.

Red Bull is set for success because of their super simple organizational structure, stability and no distractions like in Mercedes.

Ferrari is also going to improve, I am sure. Good team, good drivers-they just need to fix the wind tunnel, have confidence in it and improve their aero program. It will work and they will win titles again.

McLaren - I do not know, but I am certain they will be stronger than Mercedes.

Lotus- same story. They will be stronger then Mercedes.

I think that Merc will finish behind Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus in 2013. And in 2014, even the super engine is not going to cover for complexity they have created.

Just wondering whether Ross can be of a help for Ferrari. They seem to operate smoothly, just need to have stronger aero. So more like a Newey role they need, not Ross anymore. Not sure....


I've read the comment about corporate structures blighting an F1 team.

There is history of this.

Any major car company that comes into the sport, has never been able to win using a board of directors and committee to make decisions.

Honda, Toyota and BMW in recent years, Renault back in the mid 80's was like a super tanker against a speedboat in direction changes. (I am aware Renault won in 05 and 06, but they had Briatore running the show)

Even Ferrari between 1988 and 1993 were rudderless with Fiat board members running the team.

F1 is so fast paced, you need one person, practically a dictator running the show. He has to lead the complete team and make decisions instantly.

Enzo Ferrari, Colin Chapman, Ken Tyrrell, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Flavio Briatore, Jean Todt and currently Christian Horner.

There will be countless others, but I can't think of any team that has enjoyed significant success with a committee running the team


Well this was a bombshell and a half when I read it earlier today!

Replacing Ross Brawn? For me he is one of the biggest assets the team has! It's true that his track record at Honda/Mercedes has not been great but there are very few people in the paddock with the record he has in winning championships.

Ross has brought a lot of people in over the last two years and should be given a couple of seasons to work with those guys to get the best results. A restructuring might make sense at the top (though even then I'm not sure it does) but if those new people then want to reorganise the technical team that will be the 2nd or 3rd reorganisation in the last few years. Alternatively, Wolff, Lowe & Lauda may want to bring their own people in, with will also take time to work.

The one person who arguably is Ross's equal in terms of titles is Adrian Newey. We are all hailing him these days, but it's worth remembering that he went on a barren run of his own with no titles between 1999 and 2010. Sire the 2000 McLaren, the 2005 McLaren and the 2009 Red Bull were all very good cars, but remember the MP4-18A? It was meant to be the car that defeated Ferrari in '03, but it was beset with problems and never raced. Its successor, the MP4-19, could barely make the Top 10 in qualifying.

I know I'm getting ahead of myself but bottom line: good F1 people may not win every year but they certainly don't become bad overnight. Furthermore, Newey really benefitted from the rule changes in 2009, which he has since maximised. With a huge raft of changes due for 2014, who's to bet against Ross and his team getting on top of the changes earlier than the rest 12 months from now?


F1 really is such a harsh sport eh.

Bring Ross back to Ferrari, that's what I want.


+ 1, and let the party begin


In place of who?


Stefano Domenicali.


Luca himself 😉


In place of Pat Fry or Dominicali or both. Maybe the 3 of them could work together.I don´t think so but you never know


Consider Brawn sold the team to Merc with a three year consultancy/ non compete agreement.


That does not mean a thing


So todays news that Ross Brawn says he doesn't want to make a long term commitment at present confirms my earlier point.

Current contract coming to expiration, Merc putting together alternative option in case he doesn't renew.

"That doesn't mean a thing" means what exactly?


Statement or question?


Sorry, "Consider" was meant to be a question. If true, the natural en of a three year arrangement is near, an changes are being implemented. Possibly severe changes due to the lack of sucess.


"there’s nothing I can tell you at this stage"

how many times have we that!!!


If McLaren and Ferrari can turn their cars around during a season why do Merc/Ross need 3 years ??


It's one thing to have all the right infrastructure, facilities and funding and whatnot, but go the wrong way or go too slow in developing the car. That can be turned around quickly. It wasn't 3 years to develop a fast car, it was 3 years to build what's required to put them in a position to develop that winning car. But evidently there hasn't been the level of funding they'd have liked, and when you're up against teams with brilliant engineers AND huge budgets, it's a bit of a tough battle.




love to see brawn at williams


My sense of deja vu may be totally misplaced, but the more I read about Merc's efforts the more I'm reminded of Ferrari. Ferrari in 1991 that is.


Jaguar of 2000 onwards is what they need to avoid


Unless Red Bull buys them in a few years.


Whats daunting about both dates is the connection.

Lauda was a special advisor to LdM at Ferrari in 1991 and 1992.

He was team principal at Jaguar into the 21st century.


Ross Brawn said at the start of last season he had only 2 goals left in F1. Firstly to get Nico His first GP win and Michael his 92nd. He's 58, won everything many times over, he's got plenty in the bank, his buddy has retired again.... I can't see any reason for him to want to stay around.

If he is going I would say he's been waiting for the team to be ready for him to leave and it will be his decision to go.


This is how F1 operates:



Brawn sees something tricksy for 2014 and the alignment of planetary egos at Merc does not suit him.

He'll join a small team and catapult them (making another bundle in the process).

Lewis will whine and moan about other drivers (again) in 2013.

EJ will continue to be a pain as a commentator but an excellent PA system for someone else.


Right, Brawn and Schumacher should make their own team (they could buy HRT or Force India if its on sale).


Would like to see them with FI but probably not happening.


I my as well add my two pence: I work for a german OEM in germany and I would say no one is safe in the the Race Team. If they are not "Mercedes men" i.e. not directly appointed by them then it will be tough. German companies are highly political and you need to be under the wing of some one highly senior. If Ross Brawn has been solely focused on improving the race team and not building up connections within Mercedes the he is probably done for - crazy to think it works like that but it does! that's not to say it isn't successful but that is how it is. The only thing to save him will be if Totto Wolff is approaching this with an open mind.


This assumes that Brawn wants to be "saved". Per Dougel's comment (34) Brawn achieved his win with Rosberg and Schumacher has left the building so what ambition does Brawn have left? I could see this as an ideal opportunity to take the retirement that was deferred following the sale of his team to Mercedes. These could be moves being made by Mercedes because they were on notice that Brawn intended to retire once his locked-in period expired.


if lowe does go to Mercedes what will mclaren do?.

pat fry & lowe used to take in turns the design of the mclaren and lowe has taken that on himself since fry's departure but who is left to take up that mantle if he goes and the offer which may/may not be on the table could be too good to refuse.

i believe personally that the reason newey and Hamilton left have little to do with money and more to do with the stifling nature of the team and actually feeling "valued".

who heard Dennis at the Canadian gp and thought wow thats how you p#@& a driver off and make him look elsewhere for a drive.

horner wouldnt have said anything like that to the worlds press about an employee let alone a driver, whitmarsh must have been crawling on the ground head bowed slapping the floor "why Ron,why?.......we want him to sign..........why do you have to make it so hard!".

i think toto and lowe are a sign of just how commited to success Mercedes are. i doubt tho that fry,bell or Willis will be there for 2014 as many have said too many high profile design people in the same place.

still cant figure out how lauda got a job with merc, he just seems to stirr up trouble and cause problems, hope Ross & toto can control him (fat chance) and not let him distabalise the team.


Toto Wolff, what a man..

Puts down xx mil. euro's? like it's nothing..

And also remains shareholder f the Wiliams team...

I doesn't matter how u look @ it, that deserves respect..

The man has got a passion for racing and men who have that kind of passion will not drop Brawn..

Brawn will only leave, if he want's to leave..

And I think he wants to leave..



"Of the Williams team"


"It doesn't matter"



James, what do you think? Should Ross and Schumacher come up with their own for 2014 if not for this year?

Schumi could be a technical/strategy director as well as drive one car, and Sutil/Algusuari/Glock or a pay driver could driver the second car.

A bit like team Prost but more successfull 😛


There's too much to do, I don't see it


James thanks for a great article and like I said a while ago- i believe this would be Ross Brawns last year at Mercedes Toto will allow Ross the opportunity to see the structure he created gel to the end of this year and perhaps retire- I don't see Ross doing it all over again in another team- he's achieved much more than many ever will in F1.

Nick Fry's departure must surely be imminent and I doubt very much this will be a surprise to anyone within the team. The technical team recruited over the last year are surely settled in now and ready to take the reins. People must remember you don't hire three or four top notch guys without someone leaving once their settled. Is it not possible that one of the guys within the team can take the Technical Director role ??

Yes this is unsettling regardless of what transpires over the coming days but surely the engineers, mechanics and the car are already established and ready to race.


The Mercedes operation has been a disaster so far. 2012 was embarrassingly bad. Carrying on as they were was not an option.


Ross won't leave F1. He's the best in the business. You don't stop doing things you are the best at instead you continue doing them. I hope he goes to Ferrari.


Unless... he just wants to go fishing!


Hi James

It all makes sense now appointing Lauda as non exec board member and getting rid of Haug was all about business and nothing to do with the need to improve the team!

Merc wanted divest/offload shares so they found 2 willing buyers Lauda/Wolff so what do they do? Install 1 as an exec Board Member and then ex Haug and replace him with Wolff.

If merc were truly serious about becoming a winning team they would be investing more money the kind of money the top 3 teams do and not selling of shares to ppl like Lauda & Wolff! Even though the 2 of them can afford a combined 40% share in the team you really have 2 ask how much more money do they have 2 invest in the team? Thats besides the fact that non of them have a proven record in Formula 1 management and barely any experience that's worth anything. Lauda ran Jag which was a failure under him and Wolff worked under Frank Williams. Williams success last yr was largely down 2 the work Parr did.

I really thought Merc were ready to turn the corner after hiring Hamilton I was 1 of the ppl who was positive about hamilton joining merc I thought it was a chance for 2 grow as a leader and as a person but now i have my doubts about merc.

If the bbc are right and Merc are going 2 ex Brawn then I would really like to see how Lauda/Wolff with no proven records and any useful experience in team management cant do a better job then Brawn/Haug who are legends in F1 in there own right and are among the most respected men in F1.


Face palm times for Lewis Hamilton, talk about car crash management ! Just goes to show large corporations make the biggest mistakes, usually because they can afford to.

This will be embarrassing, funny, sad and cringe worthy all at the same time.


Just goes to show you how shrewd this business is. There is no way Wolff got to this ridiculously awesome position in a short time without stepping on many toes. And some of those toes are still to be stepped on if the Brawn story is true.


I knew there was more to the Schumacher exit story. There is no way Brawn would have hung schuey out to dry like was done. It was a stitch up and Schumacher was first followed closely by Haug. It seems now Brawn and Fry are next in line. All to make way for a "new look" team. Despicable mercedes...It will not work


Much as I admire Ross for his work in the past he is not able to come up with the goods now. It's not unreasonable for Mercedes to have a shake-up. Every day occurence in industry.


Talk of Hamilton being stitched up, but as James noted this hasn't happened overnight prob in planning from mid last year, and that was the news that finally peruaded Lewis to join, remember the 'heart to heart' talk he had with Lauda, who obviously knew full details of the re-structuring.


I bet that before long, Lauda will be shooting his mouth off and arguing with others including his co-managers. He likes to do that, like he did at Ferarri.


This is the start of Mercedes exit strategy from the sport. They dont want to loose money and the so called reputation. MS and Haug are gone, Next is Fry and Brawn whose exit counter has started. With 40% of stake sold, Merc has set the stage for exit. They might have asked Brawn to buy a stake, which he might have refused politely (Who wants to lose money, while knowing that things are not going to work) and there come Wolf from nowhere, without much experience to manage a team.

With Wolf and Lauda (without Brawn), I pray for Hamilton who might be on the phone with Dennis, "Hi Ron, how about a 50% cut of my Mclaren salary, will that work"?

Merc will watch this year results and if there is no noticeable changes (wins, which is not going to happen, may be one or two).

Most of us have been watching F1 over a decade or two, we know how all this will end.

Alanis Morissette

It seems to me that Wolff is staging one of the great coup d'état of our time. He is a fearsome individual who, like is namesake is right at the top of the forest food chain. He stalks his prey, he bides himself through lean times feeding on scraps and then transforms himself into a magnificent beast and strikes.

This is excellent news for Lewis I feel. With the Totmeister at the helm, I can only see a great future for the Mercedes team. The only thing I'm not sure about is the rumours of the removal of Nick Fry. Removing an individual of that caliber has to be a mistake. The man has a track record of excellence second to none. Not something that can be said of the now past-his-best Brawn.


Next they might replace Hamilton with Suzy wolff 🙂


James, what's with the 'rumour' about reported visit of Christian Horner to Maranello?


What I think is, their meeting was probably something to do with the post-Bernie era.


Where did you read that? Got a link?


I have a feeling about that. Working on a story at the moment


I'd imagine if Wolff has purchased 30% of the team then he'd want to be Chief hence Nick Fry having to make way.
With Nick gone, I'd say Ross Brawn would probably want to follow him out the exit pretty quickly.
All very poorly handled by Wolff + Lauda.
Jordan is spot on this time.


Sounds like Mercedes is becoming a team of outcasts with fragile working relationships at least in the short term. Let's hope for Lewis' sake it doesn't implode in acrimony and blame.

PS Ross Brawn to Williams!


Hi James,

When do you think we will get an announcement on Ross Brawn & Paddy Lowe? Surely this is going to be destabilizing for the team with a management reshuffle just before the season starts. One would hope they would try and get this resolved ASAP :/ I don't want this to be 'the reason' why they aren't competitive in 2013... no more excuses 🙂


Seeing Ross today. I don't know about Paddy. Discussions are ongoing. He has a long tie-in on his McLaren contract so unlikely to be moving in 2013.


Thanks James 🙂


Hi James - you briefly mentioned Robert Kubica's upcoming test in a DTM car, and now that it is coming up to two years since his crash I was wondering if you could write a piece on his recovery over the past two years, and realistic prospects of a return to F1?

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