Brawn: To stay…for now, Lewis puts on a brave face

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Brawn: The fuller picture. Having asked the question in the end of year TJ13 questionnaire whether people were interested in ‘breaking news’ being delivered here, I was surprised how high the count was. So, although this week is unlikely to re-occur, I will endeavour to do what we did in the previous posting, when appropriate.

So, things are settling down and we can take a more considered view of the lie of the land. Here’s Ross’s comments in a more complete form – I was getting them by twitter and text before – so apologies if the final version differs slightly. I think the sentiment is the same and at times more surprising.

Ross was asked whether the recent events and the teams media management of matters would cause confusion in the way Mercedes will be run. “I am the team principal. I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters. There is another side of the business that I don’t want to get involved in – the commercial activities – [that] Toto will be doing [and which] are complementary to what I will be doing.

He asserts, “But everybody knows the only way a racing team will work is to have one reference, and I’m that reference.”

It was inferred that Wolff’s status as a shareholder would diminish Brawn’s position – supposed to be equal in status, but operating in different spheres. He replied, “I made the decision to sell the teams to Mercedes because I am not an entrepreneur. I am a racer. I want to go racing. I made that decision because I believe Mercedes were the right people to have the team in the future.”

“I think you can see that in the investment in a driver like Lewis and the facilities here. These changes are very difficult to do as a privately-financed team. I want to go racing at the very top with all the facilities and the best drivers. All that is needed. Even though Brawn GP was a good experience it was not going to have the capacity to do that in the future. It matters little to me that Toto (Wolff) is a shareholder. What matters is that Toto has the same vision.”

On the matter of Paddy Lower possibly replacing him, Brawn had this to say. “”I know the situation completely, Mercedes want a long-term commitment. And obviously, with a lot of additions [in recent personnel], I want to see how things go before I make a final long-term commitment.”

“And so we have to have things in place (pauses). It’s rather like my succession plan at Ferrari. When I decided I was going to stop at Ferrari, we built a succession plan and I am part of that, I’ve talked to Paddy, we know the situation. Like any of us in life, if we are excited by what we are doing we carry on doing it. So that’s what I want to do.”

When asked why he might want to stay, Ross had this to say. “I’ve said before, failure is actually one of the greatest motivations.  We’ve had some poor years and that has driven me even harder to make sure we do things right. With the impending retirement of Michael and knowing that inevitably had a limited life, getting someone of the calibre of Lewis here has been massively beneficial to me, the team, to everyone.”

Ross appears in his own inimitable way to hint this furore could all have been handled better. “It’s a bit disappointing it’s got into the media because it can be disturbing for the team. I want our guys focused on doing the best job they can for the coming season. There is a huge buzz about the place for the coming season. And that’s what we want to maintain.”

Well there we have it. All is fine in Brackley. I’m chuckling as I’ve been looking at some of the ‘Business as usual’ headlines being written. If anyone believes that – their heads are buried somewhere deep in the middle of the wastelands of the Kalahari.

After what has been clearly a media disaster for Mercedes that indubitably puts to bed the myth that Toto and Lauda are capable of running a smooth and precise operation. Ross has brought a touch of class and calm to a whirlwind that should never have been his to still.

One suspects it has been a frenetic 48 hours for Brawn, calculating how best to put out the fires that raged. Maybe, when he has time for reflection, he’ll come to believe that life at Mercedes will be this way – more than just the once.

And now this…

Lewis on Brawn: I wanted to entitle this, ‘Lewis and the tooth fairy’ – but to be fair to Hamilton, his head must be spinning. He certainly didn’t join Mercedes because he believed Lauda was a great boss. Visions of a dominant Schumacher winning race after race – title after title – year after year, must be etched on his mind. And who was behind it all – Ross Brawn.

May be its my imagination, but the rhetoric below is crestfallen, whilst trying to be brave.

As far as I’m aware there are no plans to bring Paddy here,” says Hamitlon. “I’ve been assured by Ross that his commitment is for the long term and he’s here to try and win with me. That reassures me and gives me a positive feeling going forward. There are lots of great people here. I’ve had great experiences with Paddy but he works at McLaren as far as I’m concerned.”

Lewis discusses Ross’ influence on him and the team. “It’s important in any team to have that head figure who leads the way and inspires everyone to go that extra distance. If I’ve got any problems and I do hear any whispers then I can just give him a call. Which I do and he sets me straight – straight away.”

“We have quite a good relationship already. We have had for some time now. Ross has obviously had a great career and runs a great team. I believe in all the people in this team. There’s a great atmosphere here, a great spirit. The guys seem hungrier than any group of people I’ve seen before. They’re seriously hungry to win.”

When asked about the effect of recent changes/additions to Mercedes, Lewis believes, “Everything feels really positive for me. It’s important the guys are always analysing and seeing what can be improved. It’s important to me that they’re prepared to do whatever they need to do to win.”

And that… is that.

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10 responses to “Brawn: To stay…for now, Lewis puts on a brave face

  1. “And who was behind it all – Ross Brawn.”

    I would argue the person actually behind Schumacher’s success at Ferrari and Benneton for that matter was Rory Byrne. Who’s behind Vettel’s success at Red Bull, Horner or Newey?

    What we have at Mercedes F1 is an organization that is in internal disarray and unless their car is quick out of the box will be fighting with Sauber for 5th place or lower among the constructors.

    • Yes it is Newey or was Byrne who was behind the build of the car but you need someone to keep everyone focused and motivated to a common goal. Brawn, I believe, is a leader and a leader knows how to get the right people focused on the right things to make the biggest impact. That is Ross. I don’t know what happened with Schumi v2 but obviously he is not the man he used to be and Ross was busy building. Perhaps Shumi was the stop gap for Lewis all along. Remember Haug and Lewis are supposed to be friends …

    • IMHO and life experience… Techies and engineers can be brilliant but usually require at times a good project manager to manage the big picture.

      Re Leadership. The only person at Merc who comes out of a shambolic few days with gravitas, is Brawn – and this despite the fact his position has been undermined – at least temporarily – by shareholders.

  2. I’m not sure it is totally fair to blame Toto for not putting this fire out, he’s only just joined the team! Lauda definitely should have been a bit more visible though. It does show what sort of a person Ross is when he’s being usurped but can still take the time to calm the situation down and be professional.

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