Mercedes' Niki Lauda still fighting to keep Ross Brawn at the team for 2014
"That will take some doing to change Ross's mind," says Martin Brundle
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 30/10/13 4:38pm
Sky Sports News sources understand that Brawn, after a year of uncertainty over his long-term future at Brackley, has decided to leave the team at the end of the current campaign with Executive Directors Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe effectively sharing the traditional Team Principal role held by the former Ferrari and Benetton technical mastermind into 2014.
However, it appears Mercedes are not about to let the renowned 58-year-old leave without a fight. After a conversation with Mercedes' Non-Excectiive Chairman ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi GP, Sky F1's Martin Brundle tweeted: "Speaking with Niki Lauda last night he's determined to keep Ross Brawn at Merc if he can. That will take some doing to change Ross's mind."
Brawn made clear to Sky Sports F1 at the Japanese GP earlier this month that he required a "very clear definition of who is in charge" before he decided whether or not to extend his stay at Brackley, where he has been Team Principal since joining the team when they were still Honda in late 2007.
Lauda has already put on record his desire to see Brawn remain at the helm and on Tuesday night claimed that, should he stay, then he would retain his current role. If not, the Austrian suggests the Englishman will retire despite already being linked with numerous rival teams, and a role overseeing F1 at the FIA.
"I am trying everything I can to encourage and motivate him to stay. I want him to do it. But it is not my decision; it is his decision," the three-times World Champion told the Daily Mail.
"If he stays he will be team principal - nothing else - or he will retire.
"With a new car and new engine, all the changes next year, I hope he will not leave."
And amid by far Mercedes' most competitive season yet since buying Brawn's own title-winning squad in 2010, Lauda questioned: "Anyway, why would he decide to go now, when we are busy fighting in the constructors' championship for second or third place? We are not putting any pressure on him at all."
However, F1's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone suspects there is no going back for either Mercedes or Brawn now.
"I think they have decided that Ross is going, and that seems to be the end of it," he told the same newspaper.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend - coverage begins with the Drivers' Press Conference on Thursday at 11am
Speaking with Niki Lauda last night he's determined to keep Ross Brawn at Merc if he can. That will take some doing to change Ross's mind- Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) October 30, 2013