Niki Lauda insists that he is not expecting Ross Brawn to leave the Mercedes F1 team, despite the impending arrival of McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe.
With Lowe not free to move from Woking to Brackley until the end of the 2013 season, Brawn's position appears safe for another few months, but, with the recent addition of Lauda and Toto Wolff to an already crowded management structure.
According to sources, the McLaren man will fill a role above that of technical director, responsible for overseeing both sporting and technical sides, which would appear to push Brawn towards the exit. The current team principal told the official F1 website that 'it can be a problem if everybody tries to do the same thing', before explaining that 'it is important to have clear areas of responsibility'.
“I am responsible for the sporting side, running the team on an operational level,” he continued, “If we can maintain that, then there will not be a problem.”
Brawn, of course, had previously maintained that 'Paddy is not coming', suggesting that it would take his own decision to step down to create an opening for Lowe. Lauda, meanwhile, remained tight-lipped when asked about the situation at the Motor Sport
magazine Hall of Fame ceremony.
"I cannot confirm anything yet," the oft-outspoken Austrian, who is understood to enjoy a 'frosty' relationship with Brawn, told Sky Sports News
, "I was surprised that McLaren issued the statement [about Lowe], but I cannot make any comment for the time being."
After praising Lowe and his abilities, however, Lauda also refused to speculate on Brawn's future.
"I must tell you that I know Ross really well, I work with him everyday, he is highly motivated and there is no question about it," he added, "There is no discussion at all that he will leave. He is committed and he is in charge of the whole team, so let's wait and see what he can do.
“I think things are coming together very well. Ross is the team principal - there is no question about that. He is fully in charge and responsible for the technical part of the car. Toto Wolff joined the team some weeks ago, and he will look after all the commercial side of it.
"Mercedes own the majority of the team and they are the ones [that] made these changes. I am the head of the board, so I am like the helicopter looking from the top down. Sometimes there is some fog and sometimes I can see things very well, but I think we are all together, Toto Wolff, Ross Brawn and myself and the whole team of people. I am sure we will move forward."