Ross Brawn refused to divulge too much about his team's programme for its second Formula One season, despite rumours about its line-up, backers and potential partners continuing to swirl around the Singapore paddock.
A whirlwind 2009 campaign has seen Brawn GP
go from near extinction under the previous Honda regime to race-winner and, as a result, championship contender in the space of 13 rounds, but the success has led to a great deal of speculation about 2010.
A winning car has naturally made Brawn a target for drivers looking to move teams next year, but has also led to suggestions that engine supplier Mercedes may be interested in taking a major stake in the operation with a view to transforming it into a truer factory effort than it currently enjoys with McLaren. The biggest question surrounding the team, however, is why major sponsors have not been revealed for 2010, despite rumours that deals have been struck.
"Our partners want to keep their involvement quiet until next season so they'll be able to have the maximum impact," Brawn explained to the official F1 website, "What I can say is that we are structured for next year and beyond. That was a key objective for us and, with the performance that we had, it was a fantastic help to put together a package for the coming seasons. We are very happy and comfortable with the future and our announcement will be made over the winter."
Mercedes' rumoured involvement refuses to go away, but Brawn insists that he is unable to comment on the speculation short of confirming that he hoped that his cars could continue to run with the German giant's engines next season. Mercedes stepped in to ensure that Brawn could make the grid this year, but required the support of the FIA and F1 paddock to do so, having already agreed deals with both McLaren
and Force India.
"[Mercedes taking a stake in the team] is all speculation I'm afraid, and I cannot comment on speculation," the team owner confirmed, "The directors and shareholders of the company want a long-term future for the company and, of course, we are always looking for opportunities to secure that future for the company as well as we can, but the rest is just speculation.
"We have plans to use a Mercedes engine for next year, but there is still some administration to go through with the FIA. But they've given us an indication that they are comfortable with that arrangement, and Mercedes is also comfortable, so we just have to complete the arrangement now. We are moving on and it looks as if we will use a Mercedes engine next season as we are delighted with it."
Despite Mercedes power carrying both Jenson Button
and Rubens Barrichello
to race wins this season, and into the top two championship positions with four races to go, neither drivers is secure at the team next season, with Barrichello, in particular, being talked of as leaving at the end of the season. The Brazilian, who is the form man in the team but still has a 14-point deficit to make up, does not necessarily want to leave, but with various drivers being linked to a seat at the team, he is the one seen as most likely to make way.
"First of all, those decisions have not been made yet, and I think I want to complete the championship in a really open way," Brawn insisted, answering questions about allowing a no-holds barred title fight between his drivers, "If we have a world champion that, for whatever reason, leaves the team that's a shame, but I'd rather have an open contest than anything else. Again, [the driver situation] is pure speculation that I'm not going to comment on."