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Musical chairs with Mercedes management // Who will be left seated when the music stops?

Published by Christine Blachford

The headlines surrounding Mercedes seem to be snowballing as we head rapidly towards the launch of their new car, and they are not all necessarily for the better.

With Lewis Hamilton celebrating his first day at the factory, and Toto Wolff's announcement that he's now an Executive Director, comes the news that Ross Brawn and Nick Fry could be heading for the exit.

Now, I'll be honest and admit that I'd forgotten Nick Fry was even part of the team, he's been so quiet in terms of Formula One over the past few years. However, Ross Brawn has been the Team Principal since the outfit was bought by Mercedes, and he remains a popular (and visible) figure within the paddock. The news that he could be ousted in favour of a big management reshuffle does raise some significant concerns.

The Lowe down

It all started with Niki Lauda, who joined the Mercedes team in an advisory capacity in September last year. He became a non-Executive Chairman of the Board, and was in line to give his words of wisdom about the structure of the team. Lauda played a significant role in bringing Lewis Hamilton on board, convincing the young Brit that he needed this new challenge, and that the team would be magnificent with Ross Brawn in charge. Awkward.

Shortly before Christmas, Mercedes confirmed that Norbert Haug would be leaving his position as Head of Motorsport for the brand, in what was described as a mutual decision. There were no pointed fingers, and no reasons given for his departure, but it seemed that a change was on the cards due to the lack of results over the three years the team have been in the sport.

In more recent news, Toto Wolff ditched what appeared to be a succession plan at Williams that would have put him at the very top of the pile, to take up a similar role at Mercedes instead. Finally to bring us right up to date, this afternoon, Eddie Jordan went on record to say that Mercedes plan to tempt Paddy Lowe from his position as Technical Director at McLaren, and pair him with Wolff to take the helm of the team.

Paddy Lowe is going to Mercedes and it would appear that Brawn and Fry are on their way out, and Lowe will be there in a very senior capacity. Lowe won't be technical director; he'll be more senior than that. But he won't be called team principal either because that will be Wolff. But Lowe will effectively be running the team on a day-to-day basis.

- Eddie Jordan

I am not one for listening to anything Jordan has to say if I can help it, but the man has had an inside track to the machinations at Mercedes for several years now. He was on the money when it came to Michael Schumacher's big comeback, and he detailed Lewis Hamilton's surprising move while everyone else thought he was crazy.

Wolff hunting

It seems like a harsh move on the part of Mercedes to oust Brawn, who has some excellent title-winning credentials under his belt. He's known as a fantastic strategist, and he kept the "dream team" together when they could so easily have crumbled, before going on to take the world title with Brawn GP in 2009. However, since then, Mercedes haven't exactly shone, and their single victory in 2012 would suggest things are ripe for a bit of a shake-up.

This could all be worries about nothing, as there has yet to be any confirmation from any of the parties involved. Toto Wolff took part in a press call today, that had been scheduled before any of this blew up, and was presumably supposed to be about his move only.

The questions flooded in on what the plans were for the future of Mercedes management. Toto got his shields up, pretty quickly.

I can see the speculation that is coming up, but I think I would be aware of that. Ross is there and Ross is part of the leading team and I hope Ross is going to stay. This is the current situation. If you look at Ross's track record, it's fantastic.

- Toto Wolff

And then he quickly pointed in the other direction, and started to talk about whether Kubica could ever make an F1 comeback. At this point, we don't know what is going on at Mercedes, but it sounds like things are going to change. On some level they need to, but the manufacturer is running the risk of taking things a step too far, especially given Lauda's previous track record in this area.

Right now, Hamilton must be wondering what in the world he's signed up to.




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