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Brawn denies rift with Mercedes

Ross Brawn has played down repeated suggestions that he or Michael Schumacher may be poised to quit Mercedes GP at the end of the 2010 F1 season.
Ross Brawn has again felt moved to play down various rumours circulating around the Mercedes GP team, ranging from suggestions that he may be leaving to those claiming that the Three Pointed Star is calling on favouritism for Michael Schumacher.

Despite taking over where 2009 constructors champion Brawn GP left off, and attracting the high-profile combination of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg to drive its first works cars since the 1950s, Mercedes has yet to reach the heights of its predecessors, with fourth place in the championship its immediate ambition. The WO1 has been out-paced by Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren of late, ruling out race wins in anything but the most unlikely circumstances, and Schumacher has struggled to match his younger team-mate for performance after a three-year lay-off.

That has led to the rumour mill cranking up over the past few months, with Schumacher's future at the heart of the speculation, but other whispers suggesting that Brawn could leave after allegedly falling out with Mercedes' Norbert Haug, and that the parent company is putting pressure on the team to design its 2011 challenger around Schumacher in order to extract maximum return on its sizeable investment in him.

Brawn, however, is quick to refute the suggestions.

"Norbert is an old friend of mine and we are both frustrated with the results - but not with each other," he assured Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, "There have been no arguments.

"The relationship with Mercedes is hugely important [as] it brings financial stability. Not necessarily in hard cash terms, because it is not a lot, but in terms of the brand. It gives our partners, like Petronas, added value to being part of the team, [and] we've now got the funding in place for the next five years.

"Are there any negatives? Yes, I have to go to a board meeting four times a year, which I didn't have to before, but I can assure you Mercedes are not interfering with how this team is run. They are not happy with the results, the same way I am not happy with the results, [and] I owe it to them to show them how we are going to improve the situation."

'Improving the situation', however, does not mean pandering to Schumacher's taste in F1 cars, especially when there is no reason to believe that the German is about to walk away from the sport he dominated en route to seven world titles with Benetton and Ferrari.

"It is an elaborate theory but it's not the truth," Brawn continues, "Michael is extremely high profile - when he does well, he is a huge asset to the team and, when he doesn't, you could argue the reverse applies. But our strategy has always been about both drivers.

"Michael likes to have a very positive car, a very responsive car, and there were definitely certain races this year where he has tried to wrestle with it and the car won't do it. But I suspect that, if he was driving a Red Bull, it would do it. From what I can see, his talent and skills are still there and, to put the record straight, Michael will be here next year. 100 per cent. As will Norbert. As will I. I don't have any ambitions to be anywhere else."

Related Pictures

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Friday Practice2, Norbert Haug (GER), Motorsport chief
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