Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda has dismissed reports of Ross Brawn leaving the team at the end of the season as "bull****" and "total rubbish," per the Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy.
F1: Mercedes won’t give up Ross Brawn without a fight, vows Niki Lauda http://t.co/FqoKzXWt8G— IndoSport (@IndoSport) October 30, 2013
Lauda is believed to want to retain the former Ferrari man but is in the middle of a dispute with team shareholder Toto Wolff, who hopes to move former McLaren engineer Paddy Lowe to Brawn's technical director role.
Reports and leaks from the camp, per McEvoy, had suggested Brawn was on his way out, but Lauda insists he is going nowhere for the time being:
I hate all this bull****. The speculation is total rubbish. The situation is absolutely clear: I spoke to Ross a while ago and we agreed that he will come back to me after the final race in Brazil to tell me whether he wants to stay or go.
The future of Brawn is, as ever, one of the hottest topics in Formula One, with the experienced engineer having enjoyed world-title success both alongside Michael Schumacher at Ferrari and Benetton, and as technical director of his own team before the takeover by Mercedes.
The arrival of Lowe at the team earlier this year, though, has put pressure on his position, and there have been suggestions Brawn would leave to take up a position with Honda, who will supply McLaren engines from 2015 per BBC Sport.
His loss, though, would be against the desires of Lauda, if McEvoy's report is to be believed, which will do little to help relations at the top of the Mercedes pile.
With a raft of new technical regulations set to be introduced next season, there are few engineers in F1 better placed or more experienced than Brawn to oversee the transition.
Lowe may arrive from a very good team in McLaren, but he does not boast quite the same track record of success as Brawn—and he has never headed up a race team as a technical director.
As an investor in Mercedes, Wolff is entitled to his say, but Lauda's F1 experience makes him better placed to pass judgement. However, where money is involved in sport, decisions are not always made by those who should be in charge.
The report suggests Brawn's future is also key in the thinking of driver Lewis Hamilton, who was signed on the principle of Brawn heading the technical side of the team.
Ructions with Hamilton, whom Mercedes spent considerable time and money upon to draw him from McLaren, would be a disaster for all concerned as the team looks to move toward challenging Red Bull's dominance next year.