Niki Lauda has praised Ross Brawn's contribution to making Mercedes AMG Petronas a force to reckon with in F1, but said that attempts to convince the Briton to stay on board were fruitless.

After weeks of speculation, Brawn and Mercedes finally confirmed that they were to go their separate ways at the end of the year, even though Lauda had made efforts to retain the services of the team principal for 2014 and beyond. However, Mercedes' decision to move towards a committee style of management, with Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe taking on the responsibility for overseeing business and technical functions respectively, left no room for Brawn to retain the sole control he desired.

The team announced the Briton's departure by claiming that 'following an extended period of open discussion between the team's key stakeholders, Ross has chosen to hand over the team leadership', and confirmed that he would formally leave the team on 31 December 2013.

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Having been employed in increasingly prominent roles at the likes of Williams, Haas and Benetton - tasting championship success with Michael Schumacher in 1994-95 - he followed the German to Ferrari and racked up five further drivers' titles and six constructors' crowns between 1999-2004.

When Schumacher retired, the Scuderia's technical 'dream team' was broken up, and Brawn took a brief sabbatical before returning as team principal at Honda. When the Japanese marque withdrew, Brawn took over the reins and, under his own name, claimed the 2009 world titles with Jenson Button, leading the engine partner Mercedes buying into the team and transforming it into a works effort. After a tough couple of years, the Brackley outfit jumped from fifth overall in 2012 to second this season, establishing itself as the main threat to Red Bull over the course of the year.

"First of all, and most importantly, we must say thank you to Ross," non-executive chairman Lauda commented, "When you consider the step that has been made from finishing fifth in 2012 to the second place that we have secured this season, he has been the architect of this success. He put the plans in place to recruit key people since early 2011, and the performance this season shows that the team is on the right track."

Through the height of the speculation about Brawn's future, Lauda made no secret of the fact that he wanted to keep the Briton on board, but now admits that talks were always likely to fail.

"We have had long discussions with Ross about how he could continue with the team, but it is a basic fact that you cannot hold somebody back when they have chosen to move on," he conceded, "Ross has decided that this is the right time to hand over the reins to Toto and Paddy and we respect his decision. Toto and Paddy are the right people to lead our team in 2014 and beyond."

The recruitment of Wolff, from Williams, and Lowe, from McLaren, were central to the restructuring Mercedes' management felt was essential to challenge at the front of the field in future, particularly as the company planned for Brawn's eventual exit.

"Last winter, we restructured the management of our F1 activities, with the support of Niki Lauda," Daimler chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche explained, "The first step was to convince Toto Wolff to join us to run our Mercedes-Benz motorsport activities and our F1 company. The second step was the recruitment of Paddy Lowe during 2013.

"This gave us a clear succession plan for the time when Ross decided to step down from his current role, and that time has now come. I have every confidence that Toto and Paddy will build on Ross' good work and that they possess exactly the balance of skills required to lead our team to world championship success.

"I would like to personally thank Ross for the calm authority with which he has led our works team since 2010, for his crucial contribution to our team's development and also for the undoubted share he will have in our future success. It has been a pleasure working with him over the past four years and I extend all my very best wishes to him for the future."

Where Brawn's future lies remain unclear, with his name having been linked to a number of rivals - including Ferrari, McLaren and Williams - as well as a possible role within the sport's governing body, the FIA. It is just as likely, however, that he will opt for another sabbatical while he considers the options...