Brawn: Too early to assess new Mercedes

Team boss Ross Brawn has said that it is too early to determine how good the new Mercedes is.

After an up-and-down first test for the new silver W04, former double world champion Mika Hakkinen admitted he suspects the car is “not exactly up to the speed I expected them to be”.

“I don’t see them competing too much this year,” the Finn is quoted by the Sun.

When asked a similar question by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes team boss said his first impression of the performance of the W04 was “good”.

“We still have work to do on the degradation of the tyres. But the problem is that Jerez in the winter is not very representative,” added the Briton. “The numbers are promising. The downforce is as the wind tunnel predicted, as is the behaviour of the car.”

Asked if the team will have to wait until Barcelona to know exactly how the W04 is shaping up, Brawn answered: “Maybe later.

“It can also be very cool in Barcelona. We will probably only be able to say in Australia and Malaysia.”

Brawn also confirmed that – with top technical minds including Aldo Costa, Bob Bell and Geoff Willis all now working for Mercedes – the team already has a design team working exclusively on the 2014 car.

“Ferrari announced a while ago that they have two teams working on the 2013 and 2014 cars and that is what we have also done,” he said. “We have even gone so far that we have selected the most promising of several concept proposals. The transition (of development between the 2013 and 2014 projects) will be smooth, not from one day to the other.”

Meanwhile, with Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff shaking up Mercedes’ management amid rumours McLaren’s Paddy Lowe is being courted, Brawn insisted his top job is actually not in danger.

“I am settled,” he is quoted by the Mirror. “I have got no problems.”


Brawn happy with Hamilton’s criticism

Ross Brawn insists he has no problem with Lewis Hamilton’s criticisms of the new Mercedes.

After six years with McLaren, the 2008 world champion began work with his new team at Jerez last week, and immediately both he and Nico Rosberg struck technical trouble. They had a much better second half of the opening test, but Briton Hamilton pointed out that the W04 lacks the downforce of his 2012 McLaren.

“We have some work to do but it doesn’t feel like a disaster,” he said.

Team boss Brawn insists he is not worried Hamilton is being forthright.

“It is correct that he gives his reference points and helps us understand what we have to focus on,” he said. “Some of it we knew already and that is why we restructured the aero group. I welcome that approach.

“It needs to be positive and constructive but criticism of the right sort is helpful to a team, it drives you forward,” added Brawn.

Meanwhile, the Mirror reports that Hamilton’s management team has undergone yet another change. Just one season into his collaboration with Mika Hakkinen’s former manager Didier Coton, Hamilton has now replaced him with Tom Shine. 28-year-old Hamilton is, however, staying with Simon Fuller’s XIX Management firm.

“Tom is very experienced but Simon Fuller will still be the main man,” a source said. “It was Lewis’ decision. He has made all the decisions and Didier was on a one-year contract.”


Brawn wants testing tweaks for 2014 engines

Ross Brawn is calling for F1’s engine suppliers to be allowed to do some early testing ahead of the 2014 season.

The Mercedes team boss said it is a risk to stick to the current plan, which would involve manufacturers and teams running all-new turbo V6s for the first time mere weeks ahead of the next world championship.

“We are looking for a solution,” he is quoted by the Dutch magazine Formule1.

“I’m not saying we need testing with the new engines this year, but maybe the first test days can be brought forward.

“For the engine supplier, it’s a difficult task,” added Brawn.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner agreed that some tweaks for the pre-2014 test programme would be “logical”.

But Lotus’ technical director James Allison is not so sure.

“Is it possible to get ready in three tests? Yes,” he answered rhetorically, saying simulation and dynamometer technology in F1 has become sufficiently advanced.


Lauda insists Brawn’s top job not endangered

Niki Lauda has now started his new job at Mercedes, insisting his presence does not endanger the Brackley based team’s current boss, Ross Brawn.

Officially, the Austrian great’s role is to ensure a better link between the racing team in the UK, and the German carmaker’s headquarters in Stuttgart.

“The job has already begun,” Lauda told Bild newspaper. “I have a lot of contact with Ross Brawn. I want to learn what the problems are.”

The 63-year-old revealed he has already been to Mercedes’ Brackley factory three times, giving fuel to speculation he might soon replace Brawn, three years after the Michael Schumacher project is acknowledged to have failed. But Lauda insists he has a “great relationship” with Briton Brawn.

Asked if Brawn’s job has ever been in doubt, Lauda answered: “Never. It’s not even been discussed. Ross has not been in danger and he never will be. He’s the boss.

“I’m just the head of the supervisory board. I just have to look at everything and ask ‘What are the strengths, what are the weaknesses?'” added Lauda.


Brawn: May be months before Schumacher decides on F1 future

Ross Brawn has revealed that it might be months before Michael Schumacher decides on his future in F1.

Lewis Hamilton will be replacing the German driver in 2013 and Schumacher’s future is yet to be decided – although the F1 rumour mill has him tipped to end up at Sauber or within a team management role at Mercedes.

“I think Michael’s going to take a few months to think about things and reflect on things, to decide what to do in the future,” Brawn told Reuters Television. “There are opportunities within the team, within Mercedes for Michael to stay involved in some capacity or other, and he’s particularly interested in developing high performance cars, that sort of thing,” said Brawn.


Brawn: Mercedes is interested in Hamilton

Ross Brawn on Thursday hinted Mercedes is still in the running to poach Lewis Hamilton from McLaren for 2013.

Asked on BBC radio if he would like the 2008 world champion on board next year, Mercedes team boss Brawn answered: “He’s a very good driver. A very good driver. I think any ambitious team looks at the top drivers and we’re an ambitious team. But I think there’s an awful lot of speculation.”

Much of that speculation is about whether Hamilton joining Nico Rosberg at Mercedes would push the great Michael Schumacher back into retirement. Brawn, who is very close to the seven time world champion after all their past successes at Benetton and Ferrari, admitted it is proving a “difficult decision”.

“Obviously he’s very involved in that decision, and discussions are ongoing at the moment,” said the Briton. “Michael has been a huge asset to the team, he’s really taken us forward. I do think Michael contributes an awful lot,” added Brawn.


Mercedes not commenting on latest Schumacher rumours

Team boss Ross Brawn on Thursday would not be drawn on speculation Michael Schumacher and Mercedes have now agreed to stay together at least another year.

German commentator Christian Danner, a former grand prix driver, earlier brought the seven time world champion’s uncertain future back to the headlines when he revealed he thinks Schumacher, 43, has decided to stay in F1 in 2013.

“I ask for your understanding that we are not going to constantly give statements about our decision-making process,” team principal Brawn told DPA news agency. “As soon as a decision is made, we will inform you about it,” he added.


Brawn: 2012 car good basis for next Mercedes

Mercedes’ 2012 car is good enough to be the basis of next year’s silver challenger, team boss Ross Brawn has revealed.

Although Nico Rosberg won April’s Chinese grand prix from pole, and Michael Schumacher set the fastest qualifying lap in Monaco, the W03 has otherwise delivered a mixed performance.

The Brackley based team, world champions in 2009 as ‘Brawn GP’, is fifth in the constructors’ standings at present, 26 points ahead of Sauber and more than 80 behind Ferrari.

But Brawn told Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper that the 2012 car is not bad.

“We’ve had some difficulties, but we have improved compared to last year.

“And we have a good basis for designing next year’s car, when the regulations will be essentially the same as this season,” he added.

“So we are going to continue to develop the current car because that knowledge can be passed on to 2013,” said Brawn.


Schumacher to stay in 2013 – Brawn says ‘why not?’

Ross Brawn has answered “why not?” when asked if he can imagine Michael Schumacher staying at Mercedes in 2013.

The seven time world champion’s three-year contract is set to expire, and the German marque’s former DTM protege Paul di Resta has been linked with the race cockpit alongside Nico Rosberg. It is believed, however, that 43-year-old Schumacher has the power to trigger a unilateral ‘option’ for 2013, which would explain Mercedes’ apparent attempts to speed up the great German’s decision.

Team boss Brawn admitted: “We are focused on Michael for as long as it takes and whatever it takes. Then we will see where we are elsewhere. We haven’t discussed it but he enjoys himself and if he enjoys himself, why not?” he is quoted by the Independent newspaper.

“Inevitably you come to a point where you say ‘Let’s have the discussions’, because these things can sometimes take some time.”


Schumacher rejects six-week deadline for 2013 decision

Michael Schumacher appears to have rejected the new six-week deadline over his plans for 2013.

Earlier this week, Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn indicated that the issue of Nico Rosberg’s teammate next year will be decided “this summer”. But it was then reported that, in fact, it is seven time world champion Schumacher who possesses a unilateral option to extend his three-year deal beyond the end of this season.

And at Silverstone on Thursday, he scoffed at the reports all will be known within six weeks.

“There can certainly be no decision from my side before October,” the 43-year-old is quoted by DPA news agency.

So is Brawn not backtracking?

“Our focus is on Michael,” he is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “There is no deadline for when we need to make the decision, it just has to be the right decision.”

Brawn speculated that Schumacher will be weighing up his chances of success in 2013.

“A good driver always looks first to see if the technical basis is correct,” the Briton said. “The commercial side comes after that. Any sensible driver knows that he needs a good car to win.”

Rosberg, Schumacher’s teammate throughout the great German’s three-year comeback since 2010, repeated his desire to see the 43-year-old go on.

“Yes, that would be very good,” he is quoted by Die Welt newspaper.