McLaren have been suffering a very uncompetitive year in Formula 1 this season and some consider the departure of technical director Paddy Lowe to be contributory to the lack of performance. Lowe moved to Mercedes earlier this year and joined a top-heavy organization that included Toto Wolff, Niki Lauda, Ross Brawn, and Geoff Willis.
Tim Goss has taken over for Paddy Lowe at McLaren and worked alongside Pat Fry who is now at Ferrari. McLaren dropped a few hints that they are making the right moves to bolster their technical department in the hopes that 2014 will be a better year. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh suggested that the moves would be headline-worthy and people of note.
This prompted rumors and suggestions with Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz suggesting that Pat Fry could be moving back to McLaren after spending two years in Maranello at Ferrari. Then there is the talk of Ross Brawn.
Brawn has been at the helm of the Mercedes team since selling Brawn GP to the German carmaker but with the addition of Wolff, Lauda and Lowe, some have speculated that his day are numbered as the team boss. According to AUTOSPORT, that isn’t the case:
“Genuinely, I have not had any discussion with Honda or McLaren about the future,” Brawn told AUTOSPORT.
“I am in discussion with Niki [Lauda] and the board about how we run the team in the future. Also we’ve got Paddy [Lowe] on board now.
“Niki and Toto [Wolff] are getting more familiar with the team and we need to understand how we’re going to run the team in the future. So those discussions are on-going but we have not reached any conclusions yet.”
It’s easy to see how the dots are connected considering that Brawn was the team boss of the Honda F1 team in 2008 and later purchased the team from the Japanese company when they decided to leave the sport in 2009. The team became known as Brawn GP and was later sold to Mercedes.
McLaren announced that Honda would be returning to Formula 1 as an engine supplier and that a partnership had been formed to introduce the new V6 turbo engine in a McLaren in 2015. Brawn’s relationship with Honda and his championship-winning driver Jenson Button—now driving for McLaren—you can see the story lines being created through association alone.
Would Ross Brawn be a good fit for McLaren? His record of success in Formula 1 is without question having secured title for Benetton, Ferrari and Brawn GP. There is the thought of Pat Fry leaving Ferrari to return home to McLaren and that could leave a vacancy for a return for Brawn to the Italian team he had so much success with but with Stefano Domenicali in the role of team boss, it seems unlikely.
Suffice to say, McLaren do need to make the right moves but they already have a team boss in Martin Whitmarsh and any role for Brawn would be an interesting compromise for both parties. What would the role be? Would Brawn be willing to work in a technical role instead of team boss? If you consider Brawn as a team boss only, Mercedes hasn’t decided exactly what role he will play in the future either and if rumors of Lowe taking that role over, a compromise would have to be made for him to stay at Mercedes as well.