Lauda: Brawn's here to stay
STICKING AROUND BUT FOR HOW LONG? Ross Brawn's position as Mercedes F1 team principal is in despute though Niki Lauda believes that he will stay for the long run. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
LONDON, England - Ross Brawn's position as Mercedes' team principal is not in dispute despite Paddy Lowe's departure from McLaren at the end of 2013, says the team's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
McLaren announced that Tim Goss had taken over as technical director with Lowe, who has been linked in the media as a possible replacement for Brawn, leaving at the end of 2013 for a "fresh challenge".
'ON GARDENING LEAVE'
Lauda, also a Mercedes team shareholder, said of Lowe: "I cannot officially say anything... McLaren put him on 'gardening leave' so let's wait and see but what I want to make clear is that Ross is not even discussed.
"If Paddy Lowe is coming or not, I cannot tell you now... but there is peace. Ross is in his position and will stay in his position. Everything is under control."
Lowe is considered to join Lewis Hamilton, McLaren's 2008 World champion who switched to Mercedes at the end of 2012, at Mercedes.
Brawn, who will be 60 in 2013, is one of F1's grandees and a master tactician and technical expert who guided Michael Schumacher to seven titles with Benetton and Ferrari. He told reporters in January 2013 that he was planning on being at Mercedes for a long time but was also building a succession plan at a team that won championships under his name as Brawn GP before he sold it to the German manufacturer.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Lowe, who can expect to face a period of "gardening leave" keeping him away from the team's 2014 car, would have a different role until the end of the year.
Lowe was already conspicuous by his absence when the new McLaren was launched at the Woking factory in February 2013. Whitmarsh said: "He's been a good and successful F1 technical director and we wish him well when he embarks on a fresh challenge in 2014."
The F1 rules are undergoing a major overhaul in 2014, with a new V6 turbo engine and energy recovery systems replacing the current V8s. Mercedes, which ha struggled in their three years back in F1, hope to have an advantage as an engine manufacturer.
Goss, who joined McLaren as a development engineer in 1990, was previously the team's director of engineering.
The 2013 season will start in Australia on March 17 with Sergio Perez joining Jenson Button at McLaren.
Whitmarsh said Goss's promotion was a "natural evolution" in his career and he was not to be under-estimated. "His quiet and unassuming persona conceals a fierce competitiveness and a wealth of experience, coupled to an unrivalled level of expertise in the field of F1 car design and engineering.
"It's a little-known fact, for example, that over the past 23 years he's made crucial technical and engineering contributions to five of McLaren's 12 Drivers' championships and three of McLaren's eight Constructors' championships.
"He's been the principal definer and developer of McLaren's F1 car design function for more than five years."