Norbert Haug has sought to quell speculation of a developing rift between himself and team principal Ross Brawn at Mercedes Grand Prix over the form – or rather distinct lack thereof – of record-breaking multiple world champion Michael Schumacher in F1 2010.
Over the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix
at Monza a fortnight ago, there were rumours that both Brawn and Schumacher could find themselves heading for the exit door at Mercedes come season's end [see separate story – click here
], with alleged disagreements between the Englishman and Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Haug over the future direction of the Brackley-based outfit.
With suggestions that Mercedes are in for another trying time of things in 2011, there is rising speculation that the patience of parent company Daimler with the consistently under-par performances of Schumacher – who has returned to top flight competition this year following three years in retirement, and at the age of 41 – is beginning to wear thin.
Schumacher's name and reputation both internationally and in Germany in particular do not make him an easy person to dispense with – particularly given that the Kerpen native himself seems keen to stay – but as whispers grow that all is not quite rosy behind-the-scenes at Mercedes Grand Prix, Haug has spoken up, insisting that the Stuttgart marque's commitment to the sport is burning as brightly as ever.
“We have full confidence in Ross,” the 57-year-old told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat
. “Work for the future is going well. It is normal that rumours come and go. I've heard rumours about Michael, about me and about Ross. When I say no, I mean no, and when I say yes, I mean yes. My answer is no – there are no cracks in the relationship.
“The automotive industry has gone through a crisis, and several other manufacturers have left F1. Mercedes is committed to the future of this sport. We do not yet have a winning team, but we are putting in the work to become a winning team.”