Mercedes have confirmed that Ross Brawn will leave the team at the end of 2013. The team principal’s departure comes as Mercedes complete the management structure they have been putting in place for the past year. Brawn will be replaced by two Executive Directors: Toto Wolff, who will deal with the business side of affairs, and Paddy Lowe, who will be in charge of the technical aspects of the team.
Brawn, who has had a long and successful history in Formula One, joined Honda as Team Principal in 2008. When they then pulled out of the sport he bought the team and it was rebranded Brawn GP. The team went on to win both the drivers and constructors championships in 2009. Brawn GP was then bought out by Mercedes for the 2010 season and Brawn has remained as Team Principal throughout.
“The most important consideration in my decision to step down from the role as Team Principal was to ensure that the timing was right for the team in order to ensure its future success,” Brawn revealed. The move comes just as Formula One is about to enter a new era in 2014 with a raft of technical regulation changes and new engines. “We felt this was the right time to simultaneously begin a new era of team management to ensure that the organisation is in the strongest possible competitive position for the years to come”.
Brawn’s departure means that Wolff and Lowe, who joined the team this year in anticipation of the management changes, will take control. Niki Lauda also remains as non-executive chairman. “First of all and most important, we must say thank you to Ross,” Lauda said. “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,” he continued. “Ross has decided that this is the right time to hand over the reigns to Toto and Paddy and we respect his decision.”
Brawn can leave the team with his head held high over what they have achieved over the past few years. “In its different guises over the past six seasons, this team has delivered some of the most memorable moments of my career,” Brawn recalls. “Our second place in this season’s Constructors’ Championship is an important milestone on the road to championship success. I am confident that the future will hold just as much success for the team and will take real pride in having played my own part in those achievements.”
What Brawn will do next remains a mystery. He has been touted with a possible return to Honda, who will return to F1 in 2015 as engine suppliers for McLaren, or Ferrari where he spent a successful decade as Technical Director. He is also expected to take a sabbatical next year and it wouldn’t be the first time if he does. After leaving Ferrari at the end of 2006 he took a year out before returning to the sport with Honda in 2008. Brawn would be an asset to any team, you just have to look at his history in the sport. He could also take up a role within the FIA. Whether or not this is the end of his Formula One career remains to be seen, but here’s hoping it isn’t!