Ross Brawn has shrugged off suggestions that Paddy Lowe's impending arrival at the Mercedes F1 team could spell the end of his tenure at the outfit that once carried his name to a world title.
Persistent rumours about Lowe's defection from McLaren
were all but confirmed when the Woking operation installed Tim Goss as its new technical director on Monday [ see separate story
], with team principal Martin Whitmarsh announcing that Lowe will now fulfil a 'different role' until the end of the year before then embarking on a 'fresh challenge' in 2014. No further details were given, but it is believed that Lowe's new role effectively constitutes the infamous 'gardening leave', denying him the chance to move on immediately while also not being involved in McLaren's 2013 campaign.
His expected appointment at Mercedes, however, continues a recruitment drive that has already seen the Three Pointed Star gain the services of Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, as well as the earlier signing of Lewis Hamilton
as it signals its intention of becoming a more regular F1 frontrunner, and casts doubts over Brawn's long term future at Brackley.
The former Williams, Benetton and Ferrari
technical guru turns 60 next year and holds similar responsibilities to those previously served by Lowe at McLaren. Although reported tensions between the Briton and Lauda have apparently been calmed by Wolff's arrival from Williams, few expect all four to be in place at the head of the Mercedes squad next season.
Brawn, however, insists that he remains unconcerned by the prospect of 'too many cooks spoiling the broth'.
“It can be a problem if everybody tries to do the same thing!” he admitted to the official F1 website, “It is important to have clear areas of responsibility, [and] I am responsible for the sporting side, running the team on an operational level. If we can maintain that, then there will not be a problem.”
Asked whether having to deal with Wolff, rather than the Austrian's predecessor Norbert Haug, took on extra significance because he is a shareholder as well as the head of the company's motorsport division, Brawn again suggested that there would be few issues.
“I have not thought about that yet, [but] I don't imagine so,” he shrugged, “I have been dealing with board members, so I don't anticipate any differences, no.”
Brawn's future could, of course, hinge on Mercedes' performance in this year's world championship and, despite Hamilton leading the way on the final day of last week's Barcelona group test, there is still work to be done to ensure that the FW04 is a match for the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari
and, of course, McLaren.
The Stuttgart marque took ownership of what was Brawn's team following its 2009 championship success with Jenson Button, but has achieved just one win and pole position – ignoring Michael Schumacher's top spot in qualifying at last year's Monaco GP – since then.
“I think [the comparative lack of success] makes you more ambitious, hungrier to get back to that feeling that you had when you were successful,” Brawn insisted, “F1 is an incredibly challenging business and one has to be right on several levels to achieve success.
“We convinced Lewis to join us, and we put in place a very good technical line-up during 2012 - and the car we've got now is reflecting that. It just takes some time to recognise what you have to do - that the corrections that you have to make and the solutions that you have to put in place are a 12-18 month process - in any team. Yes, it has been frustrating, but I genuinely feel that we are going in the right direction.”