The future of Ross Brawn, one of Formula One’s most successful figures, was being fought over within his Mercedes team on Tuesday night.
One well-placed team insider encouraged reporters to follow up a BBC report that cited ‘sources close to Mercedes’ saying Brawn would stand down as team principal at the end of the season.
Within minutes, Niki Lauda, Mercedes’s F1 chairman, said he was still trying desperately to keep hold of Brawn, 58.
“I hate all this bull,” Lauda said. ‘The speculation is total rubbish.
“The situation is absolutely clear: I spoke to Ross a while ago and we agreed that he will come back to me after the final race in Brazil to tell me whether he wants to stay or go.”
But Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 supremo who is thought not to be on the best of terms with Brawn, said, tellingly: “I think they have decided that Ross is going, and that seems to be the end of it.”
Brawn is caught in the middle of a dispute between Toto Wolff, a shareholder, and Lauda.
Wolff wants to elevate former McLaren engineer Paddy Lowe to Brawn’s job, while Lauda appreciates Brawn’s pedigree as the man behind Michael Schumacher’s seven titles as well as Jenson Button’s one in 2009.
Despite that, Lauda said: “I am trying everything I can to encourage him to stay. But it is not my decision; it is his decision. If he stays he will be team principal - nothing else - or he will retire.”
“With a new car and new engine, all the changes next year, I hope he will not leave.”
“Anyway, why would he decide to go now, when we are busy fighting in the Constructors’ championship for second or third place? We are not putting any pressure on him at all.”
Brawn bought the team for a nominal pound in 2009 only to sell it to Mercedes a year later for £110 million (). He could certainly afford a stress-free life of luxury. - Daily Mail