Wolff wants Brawn to stay

  • Last Updated: January 22 2013, 13:34 GMT

The new head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff has denied reports of a plan to replace Ross Brawn as Formula One team principal.

Ross Brawn: Key figure at Mercedes

The Austrian Wolff was named Mercedes' motorsport boss and executive director on Monday and reports on Tuesday suggested it was the first move in a major overhaul of the team, with McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe expected to join and Brawn and Nick Fry potentially making way.

But speaking today in his introductory teleconference, Wolff told reporters he was yet to make any personnel decisions and remains a keen admirer of Brawn's achievements.

"There is speculation which is coming up in some of the media," he said. "I think I would be aware of that. It's all speculation. Ross is here as part of the leading team and I hope Ross is going to stay."

Wolff said he was yet to visit the team's factory in Brackley and he plans to speak to all the key members of his new team before making any decisions.

"I haven't been in Brackley yet," he said. "I have had conversations with Ross. I admire what Ross has done but I need to understand the structure and what Ross has done.

"At this stage it would be foolish to come in and speak about replacing anybody."

On the reported move for Lowe, he said: "I think he is a recognised person in the paddock who has been with McLaren for 15-20 years. I've read this in the paper, that's all I can tell you. In Formula One, there's always a lot of speculation about people."

Wolff joins a Mercedes team that ultimately disappointed in 2012, but has made a major investment going into 2013 by spending big to sign former world champion Lewis Hamilton from McLaren as a new team-mate for Nico Rosberg.

"I haven't had chance to sit down with them but I hope to do that pretty soon," Wolff said. "I don't know them particularly well as Nico left Williams when I joined. Lewis I've known since his Formula Three days but I've had no close contact. But I'm very happy to have them as they seem very motivated."

The 41-year-old Wolff has bought shares in the Mercedes team but said he would for now retain his 10 per cent holding in the rival Williams team, where he served on the management board until Monday's switch.

"For the moment I'm going to keep those shares," he said . "I have a responsibility as a shareholder. I've got a wonderful opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Mercedes to be involved on a daily basis but I can't let everybody else down behind me as shareholders.

"I'm going to look at the situation in the next couple of weeks or months."

Asked how he could reconcile his interest in the two teams, he added: "I am working 100 per cent for Mercedes, as a director Mercedes and trying to be successful with Mercedes.

"But I've had a long interest in Williams and you can't kill an emotion just by resigning from a directorship. I'm hoping from a professional standpoint that Mercedes do well and I'm working 24/7 to do that, but if Williams do well I will be happy for Williams."

Wolff confirmed that former BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica was due to test a Mercedes DTM car in Valencia but said that even if the test went well, it remains too early for the Pole to be considered healthy enough to drive an F1 car.

The 28-year-old suffered severe injuries in a rallying accident in 2011.


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