Ross Brawn is set to leave Mercedes at the end of the season
For one of the most successful team principals in the history of Formula 1, the sun is setting on a glittering career.
Should Brawn walk away from the sport, he can do so with his head held high. He has been instrumental in the success of practically every team he has been involved with, winning constructors’ and drivers’ titles with Michael Schumacher at Benetton before bagging six consecutive titles at Ferrari with the same driver.
More success followed when he launched a takeover of Honda in 2009, winning both constructors’ and drivers’ titles in a team bearing his own name.
But things have not all gone according to plan so far at Mercedes, and the goal of winning the championship still seems a distant one given the dominance of Red Bull and the team’s well documented struggle with making the Pirelli tyres work.
Paddy Lowe, who arrived at Mercedes from McLaren in the summer, is seen as Brawn’s natural successor, as reported at the time by Autosport.
But whilst all the signs point to Brawn leaving Mercedes at the end of the season, there still may be a chance he will be persuaded to stay, and that is certainly the aim of non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, who was reported in The Times via Autosport that a decision had not been reached.
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 of the season in Brazil to tell me whether he wants to stay or go. I am trying everything I can to encourage and motivate him to stay. I am the one who asked him to stay. I want him to do it but it is not my decision, it is his decision. If he stays he will be team principal - nothing else - or he will retire.
Jenson Button, who won the title driving for Brawn in 2009, said on ESPNF1 that he would also be surprised if Mercedes let Brawn go at the end of the season as he is the “perfect guy to run a team.”
I think for any Formula One team Ross is beneficial because of his experience and he is a very strong character as well. I'm surprised they are letting him go, for me he's the perfect guy to run a team so I'm surprised to see him leaving the sport if that is the case.
It would be a loss to Mercedes, but it would not be a loss to the rest of us. I think it would be a good thing [for Mercedes' rivals]! Ross is a great team leader, very strong and a very confident individual. I think everyone needs someone like Ross in their team. I'm surprised to see he's leaving, but maybe there are some reasons for that - it's difficult to know what they are.
Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes will still be able to win world title despite team boss Ross Brawn deciding to quit http://t.co/N5woBIGJrn— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 31, 2013
So what if Brawn does leave Mercedes at the end of the season and Paddy Lowe takes over as team principal?
If he were to stay in F1, working with Honda again would certainly seem to make sense. Brawn ran the Honda team after leaving Ferrari and the engine supplier returns to join forces with the McLaren team in 2015.
According to former F1 driver and Sky Sports pundit Johnny Herbert, the move would be a good fit for both parties.
Potentially, I think there's a better chance of success coming, especially when Honda comes. Then you have the relationship from when he was at Honda; of course, then it went to Brawn, but it was Honda who basically spent the money that got that package together. That success they had at Brawn, could be something through Honda, that they could actually bring together at McLaren as well.
Of course, Martin Whitmarsh is there at the moment. He's been criticised quite a lot in the last couple of years, but then things have changed: the Honda deal's come along and they've got a good aerodynamicist who's coming along at the same time. They say there are more personnel coming on board as well - we'll have to wait and see exactly who they are - but that is a possibility of course.
Where will Ross Brawn be in 2014?
Whatever happens at the end of the current season, it is likely that Brawn will remain in F1 in one capacity or another. When racing has been a part of your life for so long, it is hard to get out of the system.
Should Lauda fail in his attempts to persuade Brawn to stay, a year away from the sport would give Brawn a nice stretch of time to re-evaluate his options and mull things over.
Because Brawn is a likeable character and comes across so well on television, I would be surprised if he was not approached by one of the big F1 television broadcasters to work as a technical analyst in the same vein as Gary Anderson, at least on a part time basis.
Then, with his competitive juices re-ignited, the lure of McLaren Honda may just prove too much.