Brawn Departs From Mercedes

After months of speculation, it was today confirmed that Ross Brawn and Mercedes have parted company, with immediate effect. Brawn’s exit was somewhat of an inevitability; the Brit has been disillusioned by the change in management structure at Mercedes and the relationship broke down in conjunction with Paddy Lowe’s switch to the team from McLaren. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. However, what lies ahead for one of Formula One’s highly regarded team personnel?
Ross made it clear months ago, that he would only stay on his terms. Throughout his career he has craved the undisputed Team Principal status. This is understandable – a Team Principal of his calibre is a valuable asset to any team. However, the appointment of Paddy Lowe seemed geared towards a replacement for a soon to be departing Brawn. The phrase, too many cooks spoil the broth comes to mind.
“First of all and most importantly, we must say thank you to Ross,” said non-executive director Niki Lauda. “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. 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. 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.”
It cannot be doubted that Mercedes will miss Ross Brawn. While his legacy will be noticeable in the 2014 package, his incredible management skills are hugely valuable and at times underestimated. During the international tribunal regarding the tyre-gate fiasco, Brawn was put forward by the team as representative. While Toto Wolff should have been at the forefront of the defence considering his executive position within the team, Ross was isolated as the figurehead; From a cynical standpoint, perhaps it was the likes of Wolff shirking the responsibility through fear of a bad result. Brawn performed excellently and conducted a fantastic defence – It did nothing to diminish the public perception of Brawn as a Principal.
These attributes will inevitably prove attractive to rival teams. While Ross has not formally stated that he will remain in F1 next season, he has hinted at the possibility – it is very likely that he will find a new team. Williams have been suggested as well as the proposition of a return to Ferrari. However, personally, I believe a return to Ferrari would not be as attractive to Brawn as Williams. At the Scuderia, there could be a similar situation developing as the one which the Brit has just escaped from. James Allison, Pat Fry and Stefano Domenicalli are all at the head of the team and whether Stefano would take up an entirely different role within the team is debatable. Unless Brawn can agree a pre-contractual guarantee of ‘top-dog’ status. It is unlikely that he would head back to Maranello. Meanwhile, the structure at Williams would easily accommodate Ross – Claire Williams could take up an executive role, (not dissimilar to her previous job as CEO), and Pat Symonds would remain as Technical Director alongside Team Principal Brawn. It makes sense and could prove to be an inviting final challenge for Ross.
Now that the news is officially out, Mercedes will now head into a testing period, post Brawn. Lewis Hamilton has been particularly vocal in his support of Ross, as he understands just how valuable an excellent Principal is to a front running outfit. Will Wolff and Lowe live up to the legacy that Brawn will leave behind?    


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