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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure

Could Ross Brawn be leaving...and just what will Lewis be thinking?
Last Updated: January 23, 2013 8:49am
Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure | Sky Sports
Sky Sports F1 pundit Ted Kravitz tries to make sense of the ongoing speculation that the appointment of Toto Wolff as Mercedes' Executive Director could spark further management upheaval, with rumours rife that Paddy Lowe could arrive to replace Ross Brawn...

So what's going on at Mercedes?
TK: "The last few weeks have seen some intense activity at the top of Mercedes GP team. And we're only now starting to understand what's been going on. I think the first point to be clear on is that Niki Lauda is in charge. He clearly doesn't understand the non-executive part of his title, which is meant to be non-executive chairman because he's been acting very much as an executive chairman. Ever since he joined the team, I understand that Lauda has even made it clear to Ross Brawn that Brawn reports to him and that he then reports to the Mercedes board. So there's clearly a big change going on at the management of the team."

And how does Toto Wolff fit into Mercedes' management?
TK: "He's been brought in as 'executive director', which sounds an awful lot like a Team Principal to me. Brawn is a very proud man and you can imagine that he might have taken Lauda's appointment above him in his stride. But having someone like Wolff, with much less experience, come in alongside must have been grating for the World championship-winning team boss."

So where does this leave Brawn?
TK: "From what Wolff was saying in Tuesday's phone-in conference, that's clearly what they're discussing at Mercedes. There's no doubt that the team is, technically speaking, top-heavy with not only former Technical Director Ross Brawn as Team Principal but also three other former Technical Directors in Bob Bell, Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa performing technical and engineering directorship roles. I understand that Lauda agrees with the rest of the F1 paddock: that this is rather more Technical Directors than one team needs. As for Brawn's position, he acts as the conductor of an orchestra and is a big figure - both physically and metaphorically - in tying the team together."

So what happens next?
TK: "I don't think it's out of the question that Brawn could leave and I don't think it would have been his choice for it to end up that way. And what Lewis Hamilton would think of it, heaven only knows..."

Hamilton settling in at Mercedes
Why might Lauda not want to keep Brawn?
TK: "I don't think it's that Brawn has done anything wrong, but there are two aspects to look at here. Firstly, whatever has been happening under Mercedes with Brawn at the helm since they won the Championship as Brawn in 2009 hasn't worked. They've just had the solitary win with Nico Rosberg in China in 2012, although there are good reasons why they haven't been able to achieve more. They've been working under a smaller budget than the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari and they've been integrating the team into the larger Mercedes family. But Lauda may consider that the new broom philosophy should extend to more people than just Norbert Haug [who left at the end of 2012]. There is a school of thought - one to which I must stress I don't subscribe, and I don't know if Lauda does - that Brawn needs a big rule change to win Championships like he did in 2009, or that he needs everything tipped in their favour like at Ferrari in the early 2000s to dominate.

"This may explain why some people might not rate Brawn. But F1 is about to have its most significant rule change in a long while with the new engine and fuel consumption formula coming in for 2014. So you'd certainly want a lateral thinking technical leader like Brawn in your team next year - not to mention a man with the sharpest brain when it comes to race strategy."

So, to return to your earlier point, just what will Lewis Hamilton make of all this?
TK: "He certainly won't be happy with the disruption to the team's equilibrium just two weeks before pre-season testing starts in Jerez. Any big change at the top of the team is unsettling and disturbing by definition. But I think there are two things that might mean that Hamilton isn't too worried. Firstly, it was Lauda who made all the moves in convincing Lewis to join Mercedes in the first place. The rumour is that Niki sealed the deal with Hamilton by text over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

"So Hamilton has signed up for Lauda's vision of where he wants to take Mercedes - wherever that takes the technical leadership of the team. Secondly, Hamilton knows this is a long term project for him and that if something hasn't been working with a certain management team in charge, it doesn't make sense to keep on going with the same management and not change things.

"But on the other hand, there'd be another couple of things the neutral would say about this. Firstly, Lauda's previous attempt at team management didn't end particularly well with the Jaguar team being sold by Ford to Red Bull for £1. And also Lewis has, during his time at McLaren, seen from the outside how effective Brawn can be as a team boss. I remember when he announced his Mercedes deal, he made a point of saying he was looking forward to working under Brawn and that he respects him.

"So if Brawn doesn't stay for whatever reason then I would imagine Hamilton will, deep down, be little bit disappointed. Finally, what it boils down to is that in recent seasons, the Mercedes car hasn't been good enough - and that must be down to the design team. Ever since the double diffuser, their design team has not managed to produce the goods.

"Last year's foray down the double DRS route, while it helped them early on in the season, ultimately was a dead end. All Lewis needs is a well-designed car. He already knows the Mercedes engine is strong and his own abilities are not under question. So that only leaves the car. Surely all Mercedes attention should be on getting the aerodynamics and mechanics right rather than messing around tweaking their management structure. Hamilton will support the team whatever they do but privately he'll be saying, 'Just give me a good car and I'll do the rest'."
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 08:33 PM
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Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure

The problem isn't Brawn, it's money. How ironic that the team that once bore his name is showing him the door.

I haven't been a Lauda fan since he undid the Adrian Newey deal at Jaguar and ran Bobby Rahal off.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 09:20 PM
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Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure

In the last few days there has been an explosion of news about the Mercedes F1 Team, with the suggestion being that there will be a complete shake-up of the top management and that perhaps even Ross Brawn and Nick Fry will be axed. Fry has been with the team since 2002 when it was called British American Racing and was being run by David Richards, following the departure of founder Craig Pollock. Fry was MD while also running Prodrive, but in 2004 Honda bought into the team, Richards departed and Fry took over. The Honda period was not a great success and it was decided in 2008 to bring in Ross Brawn as Team Principal. He, Fry and several others then became the owners of the team when Honda quit in 2009. Ironically the team then won the World Championship with Jenson Button and that led to Mercedes buying the organisation at the end of that year. This made the partners very wealthy, but they stayed on with Brawn as Team Principal and Fry as CEO. Three years on, the team may have grown a lot, but the results have been poor and as a result of this Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug has been axed, indicating that the bosses in Germany are not happy with the way things have been going. The appointment of Niki Lauda as the non-executive chairman was seen as an odd move, as Lauda’s previous efforts running teams have not been very successful.

One should remember that the departure of Haug came after several months in which there were rumours that Mercedes might give up being a team-owner and return to being simply an engine supplier, as was the case between 1992 and 2010 (although the first couple of years saw the company hiding behind Ilmor and Sauber badges). This policy was pretty successful with McLaren-Mercedes winning several World Championships and being a consistent frontrunner. However, there was always the ambition to recreate the glory days of Mercedes in Grand Prix racing with the “Silver Arrows” and when the opportunity arose to buy Brawn, the board in Stuttgart agreed to jump in and set about unstitching its agreement with McLaren. That enthusiasm has waned as the team has gone backwards, dropping from 214 points in 2010, to 165 in 2011 and 142 in 2012. The Stuttgart company understands that F1 is very good for its image and marketing, but it wants to be winning. If that does not happen, the chances are that it will pull back, although it does not want to be seen to be departing in defeat. Thus, just as the firm entered the sport surreptitiously in the early 1990s, any exit would be best achieved in the same way.

It was interesting to note that last year the name of the team was changed from Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team to Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. AMG is the high-performance vehicle-maker of the Mercedes group, which was acquired from its founder Hans-Werner Aufrecht in 1999. At that time it was agreed that AMG’s motor racing department would be transferred into a new company called HWA (Aufrecht’s initials). Aufrecht sold his remaining shares of AMG to Mercedes in 2005 and the following year he went to the stock exchange and floated 17 percent of HWA, while also bringing in outside investors, namely Qatar’s Nasser Bin Khaled (NBK) Holding, plus two private investment companies Dorflinger Privatstiftung (15 percent) and MarchSixteen Finance, the latter belonging to Toto Wolff (12 percent). Aufrecht kept 28 percent and so Wolff, Dorflinger and Aufrecht still controlled a majority of the business.

It should be remembered that there was some interest at HWA in creating an F1 team at that time, with the company looking at Buying Scuderia Toro Rosso, with the aim being to use customer McLarens. That did not happen, but Wolff’s F1 ambitions popped up again when he acquired a shareholding in Williams, as part of a plan to float the Grove team. There have long been rumours that Wolff was acting as a front man for Dorflinger and Aufrecht, although there is not much evidence to back this up.

The interesting thing about the deal for Wolff and Niki Lauda to buy “a significant minority interest” in Mercedes Grand Prix Ltd is that this has not actually occurred as all that has been announced is that a letter if intent has been signed. This means that there is an intention to complete the deal but no money has changed hands.

My gut feeling is that Mercedes is preparing the way for a possible departure as a team owner, if things do not improve. It is easier to slip the team into HWA ownership (seen as safe hands in Stuttgart) without it being seen as a retreat, as the company could probably justify this on the grounds of some convoluted form of compliance as a listed company. If the team is successful then Mercedes can take the glory. This prudent twin strategy will win Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche friends in the company as he is still in the process of trying to make sure he gets reappointed to the top job until the end of 2018. There is a meeting to decide this on February 6.

Either way, he is now covered and the plan is to find a way to make the team competitive. Since Mercedes took over it has been hoovering up talent in F1 and at one point had five former technical directors on its books: Brawn, Bob Bell, Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis and Loic Bigois. Adding Paddy Lowe would be simply adding to the belief that the team has more cooks than it has bottle washers, and it would be logical to assume that some of those mentioned would be on their bikes. The real question, however, is whether the Lowe deal will go ahead.

And this is where things get interesting as the first approach by Toto Wolff to Lowe was in September when he was trying to lure Lowe to Williams, in his role as Executive Director of that team. Do not forget that Lowe began his career at Williams back in 1987. He stayed with the team until 1993 when he was poached by McLaren to be the team’s Head of Research and Development. That deal seems to have been agreed, but when Wolff moved to Mercedes he decided it might be better to take Lowe with him to Mercedes instead, thus knocking a few noses out of joint at Williams. It is not clear if any of these deals have actually been signed or whether Lowe will end up staying at McLaren. Unless Lowe’s contract has run out at Woking, he will need to spend six months on “gardening leave” before he can join either Williams or Mercedes.

At the moment no-one is confirming anything, perhaps because they are still trying to sort it all out…

Joe Saward


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-24-2013, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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According to rumor, the Daimler Benz carrot Lowe is being offered is 900k £ by Daimler Benz vs 600k he is being paid now.
Even Ron Dennis with open check book is not likely to raise Lowe's compensation by 50%.

He certainly doesn't need the money, but Russ Brawn back at Ferrari would be interesting?
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Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure

McLaren 'working hard' to stop Lowe exit
(GMM) McLaren is reportedly "working hard" to prevent Paddy Lowe from switching to Mercedes.

Citing sources, Spain's El Confidencial said team boss Martin Whitmarsh and supremo Ron Dennis are trying to convince McLaren's technical director to resist the temptation to join Lewis Hamilton in a leading role at Mercedes.

Germany's motorsport-magazin.com reported that Lowe may have been offered a pay rise by McLaren if he agrees to stay.

At any rate, the Woking based team has clearly not given up on the 50-year-old, having issued to journalists a press kit for its 2013 car launch scheduling Lowe to speak on January 31.

There is definitely some truth to the rumors, however, given Mercedes' refusal to officially comment since the story broke a few days ago.

When asked about it, the German marque's Niki Lauda told Bild: "In formula one, you have basically never completed the task of putting together your team."

No matter what happens, McLaren will almost certainly have a highly competitive car for the new season.

Jenson Button, not the team newcomer and vastly less experienced Sergio Perez, will be the first at the wheel of the MP4-28 at Jerez on February 5 and 6.

Sam Michael, sporting director, said McLaren has been working hard since the end of the season last November.

"The car that won in Brazil would certainly not win in Australia," he is quoted by Spain's El Mundo Deportivo.


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-24-2013, 10:53 AM
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Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure

Ross Brawn to get the axe at Mercedes? UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Ross Brawn insists he won't be stepping down as Mercedes team boss despite Toto Wolff's arrival.
"Toto is coming in and there is another side of the business that quite frankly I don't want to get involved in," said Brawn.

"I don't want to get involved in the commercial activities and with the support we need to give Daimler on a day-to-day basis.

"There are a lot of things Toto will be doing which are complementary to what I am doing in terms of running the team.

"But you have to have one reference. Everybody knows the only way a racing team will work is to have one reference, and I'm that reference.

"I am the team principal and I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters."


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Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure

Quote:
Originally Posted by gerkebi View Post

I haven't been a Lauda fan since he undid the Adrian Newey deal at Jaguar and ran Bobby Rahal off.
I should restate that. Actually Ron Dennis undid the (signed) Jaguar deal and Lauda took it out on Rahal.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-24-2013, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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My in law in Dubai & partners were offered both the Jaguar, and the BAR team at the time.
I think I still have the files.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-24-2013, 06:17 PM
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Sky Sports F1 Q&A: Ted Kravitz on Mercedes' management restructure

I still don't know how Adrian got out of that signed deal. I suspect he appealed to Bobby as a friend after Ron Dennis upped the ante and Bobby let him out of it, resulting in Lauda's wrath.

Bobby lost credibility with Ford (Jaguar) when he didn't bring Newey to the team after a signed deal when in fact I think Bobby did something much more honorable. I don't think honor is rewarded in F1 as often as it should be.

Sorry to dig up ancient history here.


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Some people in F 1 should be required to wear a full body condom.
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