Mercedes’ works team will “definitely” be on the F1 grid in the coming three seasons, the marque’s motor sport president Norbert Haug confirmed in India. However Ross Brawn was not willing to make the same guarantee about his job as team principal.
“I want to be here for the next three years,” the Briton told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper in a joint interview with Haug. “If you don’t perform, then you’re out. I am the boss. If the project is not running right, then it will be over.”
The same might be true for Michael Schumacher, whose current contract runs out at the end of next season. By 2013, when he will be 44, will Schumacher be clearly too old to perform?
“I see no reason why,” insisted Brawn. “Everyone can see that Michael has stepped up this season and is still growing. If he can fight for podiums and wins next year, then why should he stop? At the same time if we are not successful next year, then his decision to stop will be easier.”
Brawn said the decision is ultimately Schumacher’s.
“It is very easy to talk to Michael about a new contract,” he said. “If he wants to continue, we will find a solution quickly. I don’t know what the outcome will be. And neither does he. Let’s see how good we are in 2012.”
Said Haug: “At the very least, I don’t think Michael has the intention to go to another team.”
It is arguably a more complicated situation with the other seat, as Nico Rosberg has clearly outperformed Schumacher in 2011 and 2011, attracting the attention of rival teams.
“The market is open,” admitted Haug. “And there are many drivers who are knocking on our door. But Nico wants to move forward and we want to do it with him.
“In general you can go to the wrong team at the wrong team, which is a mistake every driver should try to avoid.”
Brawn agreed: “Nico believes in the people here at Mercedes, and we believe in him. It’s just a matter of time.”
Haug said having the right driver is crucial for an F1 team, with the latest example being Red Bull.
“They have a fantastic car and a very stable team,” the German acknowledged, “but Sebastian Vettel makes the difference for them.
“Just look at the big gap between him and his teammate Webber, who I respect a lot. Sebastian is the key to their success,” added Haug.