x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Mercedes chief Niki Lauda insists team is 'stable' after Lowe switch talk

The Mercedes non-executive chairman has backed Ross Brawn as team principle, despite speculation McLaren's Paddy Lowe will join the team next season.

Mercedes team principla Ross Brawn.
Mercedes team principla Ross Brawn.

Niki Lauda has confirmed Ross Brawn is to remain in his position as team principal of Mercedes, insisting there is "peace" within the team.

The announcement came on the day Tim Goss was appointed as McLaren's new technical director, a replacement for Paddy Lowe who is set to join Mercedes at the end of the season.

Lowe's move, yet to be confirmed by Mercedes and likely to remain that way for the majority of the year, ends fierce speculation as he has been linked with the team for the past few weeks.

That in turn, however, has placed Brawn's position with the Brackley-based marque firmly in the spotlight, with suggestions he will leave when Lowe joins.

But Lauda, the non-executive chairman of Mercedes Grand Prix Ltd, said: "I cannot officially say anything because nothing has happened yet.

"If Paddy Lowe is coming or not, I cannot tell you now. Make up your own (mind), whatever you want to do.

"The situation is as it is. McLaren have put him on gardening leave, so let's wait and see.

"To be clear, Ross has not even been discussed, which is an important thing.

"But there's peace. Ross is in his position, he will stay in his position, so everything is under control, there is nothing to make out of this."

For the remaining year of his contract with McLaren Lowe "will be performing a different role" within the organisation, according to team principal Martin Whitmarsh, albeit undefined and understood to be away from grands prix weekends.

Last month Mercedes unveiled Toto Wolff as their new head of motorsport and it was at that stage Lowe was quickly earmarked for a move, with rumours suggesting he would become team principal.

But Lauda added: "Everything is very stable, everything is fine. Mercedes offered Toto shares, me too, so that is what we did.

"The set-up now is connecting Stuttgart (Mercedes headquarters) closer to Brackley, and all this has all been done in a very good way."

Brawn defiantly stated last month he was "in charge", and in having directly spoken to Lowe was fully aware of his situation.

But given Mercedes are already laden with technical directors - Bob Bell, Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa - the question is what role Lowe will take on, if not as Brawn's successor, as he will again team up with Lewis Hamilton following the Briton's move from McLaren at the start of the year.

On Lowe, Whitmarsh said: "Paddy has been a good and successful technical director and we wish him well when he embarks on a fresh challenge in 2014."

For now, it is Goss, formerly McLaren's director of engineering, who has been appointed technical director with immediate effect.

With McLaren since 1990, during which time Goss has contributed to five drivers' and three constructors' world titles, Whitmarsh believes his new role is one he "richly deserves".

Whitmarsh added: "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 Formula One car design and engineering."

Despite Lowe's impending exit, Whitmarsh said: "I firmly believe our technical and engineering team is the best in the F1 business and that its strength in depth has always been, and will continue to be, an important element of our on-track success.

"Moreover, I'm certain that, in his expanded role, Tim will continue to lead it very capably and will evolve and improve it.

"That's his brief and it's already clear he's prepared to embrace it with energy and enthusiasm."

Underlining what Lowe is leaving behind, Goss has described his new role as "one of the most prestigious positions in global sport".


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