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Ross Brawn bows to the inevitable and steps down from Mercedes F1 team
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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Nov 2013   |  12:33 pm GMT  |  207 comments

The most anticipated story of 2013 has finally reached its endgame: Ross Brawn will leave the Mercedes F1 team on December 31st, it was announced today. The news comes as no real surprise, as it was foreshadowed a few weeks ago in press reports. Brawn had made his decision at the time, but had requested that the announcement come after the season had ended.

It ended well and Brawn can sign off having lifted Mercedes to second in the constructors’ championship, a significant achievement, given where they were in 2010-12.

Now they have a platform to challenge the Red Bull hegemony and with the hybrid powertrain they have built and the team of chassis engineers they have assembled, a championship challenge is there to be made.

But Brawn won’t be part of it. He and the team could not agree on a role for him which gave him the status as reference point which he wanted. He was not interested in being an wise old counsellor, he wanted to run the show and the new management group of Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda did not see eye to eye with him on that.

He was given the chance to make the decision and it has been presented that way, but all along it has had the feeling that a new broom was passing through and he wasn’t going to be able to stay in a position of control any more.

Paddy Lowe has big shoes to fill, but he’s a highly intelligent, experienced and ambitious man. He’s moving up to a different kind of role now, as Brawn did when he started with Honda in 2008, and there will be some adaptation.

The key for him will be the support of central figures in the team like Sporting Director Ron Meadows, engineering chiefs like Aldo Costa and Bob Bell as he gets to grips with his new role. Mercedes have some very good people and a much clearer management structure than McLaren, Lowe’s former employer, so it’s clear that the buck stops with him.

It is not known where Brawn’s future in Formula One lies, with a role in the FIA or a move to another team still possible options. Brawn has not been approached yet by the FIA. The feeling is that he has not been particularly active in looking for the next move; that he will bide his time, take half a season off and see how the landscape looks in 2014 when the cars built to the new rules go racing and then decide whether he has more another big challenge in him. He says he’s too young to be a grandad and that he likes the idea of racing, but the right role will be essential. The only viable options would be McLaren – but that would require a shareholder revolt – and Ferrari, but they have a new structure with James Allison and will want to give that a chance to mature.

Lowe will take control of the technical side of the Mercedes team and Toto Wolff will lead the business side. They have both been able to spectate on Brawn’s leadership style and see the way that he has helped turn the team around from its difficult days of 2007 and 2008, through the Brawn GP wonder year, to Mercedes ownership.

The move has been expected since January, when news broke of Lowe joining the team, which Brawn did not appear to have been in control of. Leaks in the media throughout the season have further cemented the suspicion that Brawn was nearing the end of his career at the team.

Next year brings a host of fresh challenges to the F1 teams and ones that require dedication to a long-term project. Therefore, it gave the opportunity for a smooth hand-over between the senior management.


The 59-year old has achieved all he can in this sport, the only engineering boss to win races with four different teams, even taking a team under his own name to a double World Championship, which had only been done before with Sir Jack Brabham and Sir Frank Williams.

Any sighting of him in a new role in the coming years will be a sign of his passion – more than necessity. He is a very wealthy man, having sold Brawn GP to Mercedes for €123 million, as well as earning very well at Ferrari for 10 years.

“The most important consideration in my decision to step down from the role as team principal was to ensure that the timing was right for the team in order to ensure its future success,” said Brawn.

“The succession planning process that we have implemented during this year means we are now ready to conduct the transition from my current responsibilities to a new leadership team composed of Toto and Paddy.”

Mercedes’ non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, admits that he tried to keep Brawn at the team, but says you cannot hold someone back when they have made a decision.

“We have had long discussions with Ross about how he could continue with the team but it is a basic fact that you cannot hold somebody back when they have chose to move on,” Lauda said.

“Toto and Paddy are the right people to lead our team in 2014 and beyond.”

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1

Schumacher trailing Hakkinen by 5 seconds. Hakkinen pits first. Schumacher puts 5-6 blistering laps and pits. Goes out in front of Hakkinen. Brawns peels yet another banana. Classic moments. Goodluck Brawn ! You’ll be missed !

2

i think he would take a year out and study the form. I dont think he is desperate to jump into a situation where he could spend 5 years trying to get a team to the top.

but you never know.

3

It’s sad to see Ross Brawn leave F1. But someday will see him back. I hope he back to Ferrari or maybe like many rumors said that he will either go to Williams or Honda. If he go to Williams, he can form a partnership with Pat Symonds.

4

Interesting how some that believe in the “IF’s”, just put the “IF’s” for one side of the equation.

IF Rosberg did not have DNF’s, he would be “close” to Lewis or better in points. 😉

C’mon, we are talking about F1! DNF’ is not just for Rosberg (Mark was the man to proof me right on this). And Lewis had two blowing tyres and DNF’s too.

IF Nico and Lewis had no DNF or any mechanical or tyres exploding, Lewis would be years ahead of Rosberg.

Who won the WDC in 2012?

Vettel or Lewis Hamilton?

The answer for the above questions, is the evidence that DNF’s are for everyone and is just part of F1. I know many are trying to “show” that Lewis is not that fast, and so they stick with that crazy 2011 year to make a point, but the truth is that Lewis smashed a two times World Champion, Kovalainen, Jenson, and in his first year in a new team, Nico. Always with race wins, and more poles than the team mate. You can try to change the facts, but the reality is just one.

5

lewis wdc was gifted to him by his buddy kindly pulling out of the way to let him get the points needed to beat Massa. His first podium of 2013 was handed to him when Ross told Nico not to pass lewis struggling on wrecked tyres. He’s imo only just on par with Nico. No more.

6

Ross should go to Williams with Pat. He’s rich enough so dragging Williams back to the top is the only thing left for him to do.

7

You’re right. They can form a good partnership.

8

AB, nicely put. Indeed there is a depth to be had in Brawn that makes him more than the sum of his individual abilities. I like the point you make about Brawn vs Lowe and Wolf, its more accurate than my questioning Brawn vs Lowe alone. I think Brawn has had a long hard think about sharing control of an F1 team and concluded that for him such a proposition holds more compromise than he is willing to accept. (My opinion)

I also think that the team, now in a strong state of ascendency in the hands of Brawn (something any rival team would not like the prospect of at all) should have been left in his hands for at least one more season. (with all respect to the abilities of Wolf and Lowe) In fact I am bit astounded that memories are so short, or faith so small, in Merc’s management.

9

Brawn’s only ever delivered his drivers the best machinery in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2009 (that year was due to the liberal interpretation of the rules more than anything).

I think Mercedes has seen the light in much the same way Ferrari have seen the light with Alonso!

10

Maybe that’s true, and yet he still helped Schumi win in 2000 and 2003 and has helped Mercedes get to 2nd in the WCC.

Let’s see if Wolff and Lowe do that well without him.

11

Having by far the best driver in the world driving your car year after year is what flattered Ross Brawn’s record at Benetton and Ferrari.

He only ever delivered Schumacher the best machinery in three seasons.

12

Going to be really interesting because of current form of certain teams on the on the grid you could picture him possibly stepping in and taking over at Williams (poss as stake holder) Mclaren Ferrari or Sauber but my tip is defo Williams while pretty much at the same time doing parts of the job claire is simply up to par enough on. By tip id defo Williams and of course there is the outside possible role replacing Bernie? we seems to be the nicest most honest of the lot with by far the finest track record wuile serving various teams so ideal candidate no?

13

James,

Not a single soul here has asked THE critical question: Is Lowe really a better option than Brawn?

Merc clearly thought so due to the lack of success in the years following their purchase of Brawn prior to this 2013 season. But was this really a good assessment? Who could give us more insight into this? Who’s opinion could you get in an interview? What are your personal views?

The notion that Brawn is a spent force and that his replacement was a necessity because despite his glorious past he is no longer able to perform his role is quite simply not true. Only RedBull could claim they would not benefit from adding Brawn to their team, every other team would be improved by his presence at the helm. So was this really THE right decision for Merc at this time? Are they really strengthened for 2014 by his absence at their helm?

Personally I think not. But what really do I know about the abilities of Paddy Lowe to be able to comment? Who could give us some real insight James? The F1 fans would love to hear some genuinely insightful view from someone who knows…

14

Its a good question, but perhaps we can refine it a little.

Are Lowe and Wolff a better proposition that Brawn?

In terms of the day to day running and development of a team, maybe.

But, what about when an engineer comes up with a rules bending development like the double diffuser, or when the opportunity for a mid-season tyre test arises? Who out of Lowe or Wolff has the ability to not only run with these ideas, but then front the press, the FIA, the paddock with calm, erudite and utterly believable arguments that defend these decisions?

For me, that’s when a team principal earns his money. His role is a blend of tech, money and politics and they are all interdependent, they are not discrete elements.

Brawn, as TD at Ferrari and TP at Brawn and Mercedes is peerless in his ability to blend these disciplines. Only Christian Horner comes close.

15

AB, nicely put. Indeed there is a depth to be had in Brawn that makes him more than the sum of his individual abilities. I like the point you make about Brawn vs Lowe and Wolf, its more accurate than my questioning Brawn vs Lowe alone. I think Brawn has had a long hard think about sharing control of an F1 team and concluded that for him such a proposition holds more compromise than he is willing to accept. (My opinion)

I also think that the team, now in a strong state of ascendency in the hands of Brawn (something any rival team would not like the prospect of at all) should have been left in his hands for at least one more season. (with all respect to the abilities of Wolf and Lowe) In fact I am bit astounded that memories are so short, or faith so small, in Merc’s management

16

“Brawn can sign off having lifted Mercedes to second in the constructors’ championship”

Not wishing to take anything away from Ross who is surely one of F1’s greats, no question.

But, 2nd for Merc is the result of two very unfortunate things that occurred in Brazil: the absence of Kimi for Lotus, and the presence of Massa for Ferrari.

17

Not taking away anything from a great man but I have a strange feeling that Brawn is going to be on the other side of s fairy tale story this time.

Previous time Honda invested millions and then a little more into a car which Brawn developed to a class above rest using his shrewd acumen. Honda developed cold feet giving rise to a dreamy/nightmarish story (depending which side of the fence you are on) and we got Brawn-Button-2009. A team that almost died, 100s of employees who almost lost their jobs, a driver who almost faded out of F1 and they got together to win a double world championship and Honda couldn’t enjoy the fruits they sowed.

The strange feeling is that Brawn with his unquestionable expertise (also the huge budget and driver line up) might have exploited more and better loopholes than the others and Mercedes might start the year at the top. This time Brawn wont be there to enjoy the success of his hard work.

You heard it here first…

18

It makes me wonder whether all the hype about Merc next year is just that – hype. When Brawn knew in 2008 they had a great car that could compete for a championship, he moved heaven and earth to make sure the team made it to the grid come Melbourne.

Now, according to the hype, he could be on the verge of reaping the rewards of his hard work rebuilding a team over 3 years and delivering an almost certain championship to a works Mercedes team since when? The 50’s? 60’s? A long time. And he decides to just walk away and hand the glory to Lowe? Hmmmmm, I don’t buy it.

19

James, you should have a photo caption competition. What an expression for “I’m not done yet”.

20
Mike from Colombia

Whenever I see Wolff on TV, I cannot avoid thinking that he has a bit of Sasha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno” about him….

Anyway…

Mercedes hit the panic button after the disappointment with Schumacher’s comeback. Now we can see that Schumacher was not that bad at all.

Norbert Haug carried the can and they made the rash decision of handing over to Toto Wolff who seems to be hanging onto Paddy Lowe’s coat tails.

Brawn’s efforts over the years then start to bear fruit and Mercedes worry that they may have made the wrong decision. Lauda then tries to work out some fudge where Brawn, Wolff and Lowe can stay on.

Regardless of Mercedes regret, it could not risk fobbing off Lowe with any other job than team principal. He left a very good job at McLaren. To backtrack on a deal made with him would make it very difficult for Mercedes to hire senior staff in the future.

21
Dimitar Kadrinski

“To backtrack on a deal made with him would make it very difficult for Mercedes to hire senior staff in the future.”

But didn’t they just did that with Brawn?…

22
Mike from Colombia

A shambles from Mercedes. Lost patience with Brawn, and then realized they made a mistake.

23

Brilliant moves from Wolf. The 2014 car must be complete enough to get rid of Brawn and take all the credit next season. Assuming he didn’t pull the trigger too soon.

24

Just want to say I highly respect Ross and am sad to see he is leaving Merc. It seems as if Merc were worried about their lack of success after 2009 and brought people in to replace Brawn – which might have been a bit rash – it seems like Ross was pulling things together after all. I just hope Toto and Paddy can do a good job…actually Toto seems quite competent and Paddy is the techie…we’ll have to see. But I’ll miss Ross – probably my favorite team boss overall. His win in 2009 was epic.

25

‘The first man to take a team bearing his name to a double world championship since Brabham’? Poor Frank Williams, half this story is about him and yet he’s completely overlooked despite the fact that’s achieved the same at least twice.

26

I’m guessing Enzo Ferrari is forgotten too…

27
Dimitar Kadrinski

+1

28

It always a mistake to work for the company you once owned and then sold. New owners always have idea’s of how they want to run it and Mercedes clearly have, so it was inevitable Ross would leave at some point. It seldom works out. Been there done that type of thing myself!!

29

brawn should have bought into mercedes when he had the chance instead of allowingttoto and nikki to buy ot from right under his nose. he’s great at hisjob butnot so great at noticing that opportunity.

30

Brawn with big “B”, simply the BEST, a champion with three different teams; Benetton, Berrari & Brawn GP. Without Brawn no Schumacher as a multiple-champion. I like his calm personality, he’ll definitely be missed!

31

One of my moments of the season was in Malaysia when Horner couldn’t stop Vettel overtaking Webber, then seconds later Brawn came on the radio to Rosberg and you just knew Nico wouldn’t ignore him.

I suspect Lauda and Wolff really wanted to keep him and maybe even on Brawn’s terms but they have just hired far too many people.

32

Rosberg didn’t overtake Hamilton because Hamilton is/was implicitly the number one driver in that team.

Vettel is the number one driver at Red Bull.

33

Funny, I had the exact same thought at the time…as did others I suspect. Ross has gravitas in the sport, and in life. It’s not just that he’s an older dude that has done some stuff – it’s that he’s done some AMAZING stuff (some legal, some we wonder….), and when he speaks its as if he is on a different thinking plane than the rest of us…way more strategic and fully formed thoughts. There is this wry cynicism with him sometimes that says we are all playing a game, and I understand how it works…and few others do.

34

He could be the replacement Bernie (not too many could do that).

On the Williams story; that just doesn’t sound like Ross Brawn. I am a big fan of Williams, but they are really far out there, right now.

Ferrari: they have (supposedly) put all the pieces together; it would make a lot more sense than Williams.

McLaren is also intriguing; they have the depth and infrastructure, certainly, and the move to Honda power in 2015, would certainly make it a contender for the services of RB.

But ultimately, what does a guy like this really need to do in F1?

The expulsion from Mercedes must be at least a bit distasteful; maybe he would like to really get away from it for a while; and a person as intelligent and with such keen insight into the actual mechanics of how F1 works, certainly knows that there is likely no going back, if you leave when that amount of change is underway.

Amongst the rumours, some kind of tie-in with Honda seems the most aligned likelihood, to me.

Though I would very much enjoy seeing him take over a team (any team) for 2014 and beat Mercedes.

I send out positive to Ross, and recommendation to do what he loves most (so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody).

35

With Williams he could be a real point of reference. This Team is currently re-building itself from the ground up. Ross could really make a difference here. He won’t be able to do this at Ferrari and McLaren. They already have their key senior people in place. + He might have to relocate to Italy if he were to be part of Ferrari.

36

The article foto gives me an idea how Ross can entertain himself and us as of January 1st.

Any way perhaps that Ross would wish to test the Ariel Atom with a GoPro strapped to the dashboard a la Jeremy Clarkson?

37

Lets hope he’s a Sir in the New Year Honours!

I thnk he deserving it as much as the other F1 knights.

Neil.

38

It has been confirmed on news Brawn will lead Force India next season as it is closest to his house.

39

I am confused. He is leaving the party before it even started?! Wasn’t Brawn planning to finally enjoy the days of glory with Mercedes in 2014?

Williams could do with a Brawn Turbo boost. His Mercedes knowledge could help Williams to rise from their ashes. Like a phoenix. Here’s hoping Bottas will bang wheels with Lewis again!

40

Williams probably could not afford his salary. But maybe Ross can start buying some of the team??? 🙂

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