F1 chief Ecclestone tips Mercedes to split with team boss Brawn

FORMULA One boss Bernie Ecclestone has fuelled speculation that Mercedes will part company with team principal Ross Brawn.

Rumours suggesting that Brawn will be replaced began to rev up last week when Mercedes poached experienced motorsport manager Toto Wolff from rivals Williams.

His appointment followed Mercedes’ hiring of British driver Lewis Hamilton and three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda who is non-executive chairman of the team.

“They have got Toto there and they have got Niki. That will probably be enough,” Ecclestone told City A.M.

In addition to Lauda, Wolff and Brawn, Mercedes also have former Honda team principal Nick Fry as chief executive. The large number of senior management has driven speculation that Brawn may not stay.

Mercedes have only won one race since the car manufacturer bought the team in 2009, and former head of motorsport Norbert Haug has already paid the price by stepping down in December after 22 years in the job.

“I think the system at Mercedes needs to work,” said Wolff. “If you have more good people it is not bad news but I think everybody needs to understand what his role and position is. I think we are all complementary to each other. It is about finding the right structure.”

Mercedes have also been linked with McLaren’s veteran technical director Paddy Lowe as a possible replacement for Brawn. Lowe was not present at the McLaren launch yesterday though team principal Martin Whitmarsh insisted he would stay for at least this year.

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