The ongoing debate about when – or whether – Ross Brawn will decide to relinquish control of the Mercedes F1 team even has the Brackley squad itself waiting on a decision, with possible successor Paddy Lowe insisting that he is none the wiser as to his colleague's intentions.
Niki Lauda has already rubbished rumours that Brawn had decided to walk away from the team at the end of the season, insisting that he was still in talks with the highly-respected team principal. Amid denials that negotiations had broken down, and outside suggestions that Brawn has decided that, unable to get the assurances he wants with regard to his stature in the inflated Mercedes technical hierarchy, he would sever his ties with the team, Lowe also claimed that there had been no decision.
“There's been a lot of talk about this in the last few months, [and] the fact is that Ross will
step back at some point,” he noted, “It's not clear what the timing is for that, or whether he will step back completely or remain in a different role within the team. At the moment we're waiting for Ross's call on that.
“In the meantime, I'm working very well with Ross and with Toto [Wolff] - there's no issue there, we work very well together. I would like to say there's no impatience on that aspect, so we'll just have to wait and see how it turns out.”
Brawn's position was thrown into doubt in the early part of the season, following the acquisition of Lowe from McLaren. Many expected the 58-year old to be forced out of his position as team boss, but Mercedes instead opted for a 'soft transition', with Lowe gradually anticipated to take on more and more responsibility during the year. It is thought that Brawn's exit would eventually leave his fellow Briton in charge of technical and sporting matters, with Wolff looking after all business aspects of the team, but Lauda insists that, should Brawn stay, he would remain in charge of the race team.
Those who believe that Brawn will leave at the end of the year also think that he is more likely to take a year out from F1, rather than jump straight into another role elsewhere in the pit-lane. The Briton – who oversaw world championships for Michael Schumacher at both Benetton and Ferrari, as well as one for Jenson Button at his own eponymous team, took a similar sabbatical after leaving the Scuderia in 2006, and used the time to indulge in his other passion, fishing.
Brawn has been linked to both Williams and McLaren since rumours of his exit intensified, but the Woking team denied pursuing any interest in him, while Frank Williams coyly insisted that hadn't even realised that his former employee was available.
The uncertainty threatens to overshadow Mercedes' pursuit of a top three place in the 2013 constructors' championship, but Lowe remains confident that the Brackley outfit can achieve its aim.
“Absolutely,” he claimed, “F1 is a very tough business and you can't build to championships from nowhere. Our target this year was actually to come third, so if we can get third - or exceed third - that would be meeting our ambitions. We very much hope we can get second and that would be a fantastic platform from which to mount an attack for the championship next year.
“Daimler is a very big company, with a huge, long pedigree of motor racing success. They're full of support for us but they want us to win, clearly, and that what we want to do. But we have tough rivals around us, so we're not underestimating how difficult that would be.”