LONDON (Reuters) - New Mercedes GP executive director Toto Wolff has dismissed reports that Ross Brawn’s role as principal is under threat with McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe being lined up to run the Formula One team instead.
BBC pundit and former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan reported on Tuesday that McLaren stalwart Lowe was set to jump ship and follow 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton to the Mercedes works team.
“Lowe won’t be technical director; he’ll be more senior than that,” said the Irishman after German media had also tipped Lowe to go. “Lowe will effectively be running the team on a day-to-day basis.”
The BBC said the plan was for Wolff to become team principal and figurehead with Lowe running the sporting and technical aspects.
McLaren had no comment about Lowe, while Wolff, announced on Monday as a 30 percent stakeholder in Mercedes GP and coordinator of all of the German carmaker’s motorsport activities, told reporters in a conference call that the Brawn report was news to him.
“You can see that this is speculation that is coming up in some of the media. I think I would be aware about that,” he said. “It’s all speculation. Ross is there and is part of the leading team and I hope Ross is going to stay as long as possible.”
A Daimler statement on Monday had listed Brawn, Wolff and the team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda as the team’s management.
Wolff, who was previously at Williams and remains a shareholder in that team with his wife Susie retaining her job as development driver, would not be drawn on Lowe’s reported move.
“Paddy’s a recognised person in the paddock and he has been with McLaren for 15 or 20 years and I read it in the paper. That is all I can tell you,” he said.
“In Formula One there is always a lot of speculation about personnel and people joining or not joining. There is nothing I can tell you at this stage.”
Wolff, who said the Mercedes job had emerged only in the last few weeks, has yet to visit the Mercedes GP factory at Brackley in central England and was not in a position to talk about management structures or staff changes.
“There are many intelligent people there and I’d like to meet them, speak to them and analyse and then make my conclusions,” he added. “There is an organisation in place and I’d like to work with it.”
Asked whether Williams might switch to Mercedes engines in 2014, when a new, 1.6-litre V6 turbo power unit is due to be introduced, Wolff said he believed the team were happy with Renault but everything was open.
“No discussions have been held,” added the Austrian.
Wolff said he had no ‘silent partners’ in his Mercedes shareholding and would be dropping out of any active role in driver and asset management and private equity funds.
He recognised also that his new role would have an effect on his domestic life, with his Scottish-born wife working for a rival team.
”It’s going to be pretty difficult,“ he said. ”Last week she came back from an aero test and I asked her ‘how was your day?’ and she said ‘I think I can’t speak to you about that’.
“So we have to find new ways of communication at home, which is quite interesting. We are not talking motorsport any more at dinner but lots of other stuff.”
Editing by Clare Fallon