London: Ross Brawn's position as Mercedes team principal is not in discussion despite Paddy Lowe's departure from McLaren at the end of the year, Mercedes GP non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said on Monday. McLaren announced earlier that Tim Goss had taken over as technical director with Lowe, who has been linked in the media as a possible replacement for Brawn, leaving at the end of the year for a "fresh challenge".
"I cannot officially say anything...McLaren put him on 'gardening leave' so let's wait and see," Lauda, who is also a Mercedes team shareholder, told Reuters at a Motorsport magazine Hall of Fame event in London when asked whether Lowe would eventually find his way to Mercedes. But what I want to make clear is that Ross is not even discussed. If Paddy Lowe is coming or not, I cannot tell you now...but there is peace. Ross is in his position and will stay in his position. Everything is under control."
Lowe is considered certain to join Lewis Hamilton, McLaren's 2008 world champion who switched to Mercedes at the end of last year, at the first opportunity and media reports last month suggested he could take over Brawn's job. Brawn, who will be 60 next year, is one of Formula One's grandees and a master tactician and technical expert who guided Germany's now-retired Michael Schumacher to seven titles with Benetton and Ferrari.
He told reporters last month that he was planning on being at Mercedes for a long time but was also building a succession plan at a team that won championships under his name as Brawn GP before he sold it to the German manufacturer.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Lowe, who can expect to face a period of 'gardening leave' keeping him away from the team's 2014 car, would have a different role until the end of the year. Lowe was already conspicuous by his absence when the new McLaren was launched at the Woking factory last month.
"He's been a good and successful F1 technical director and we wish him well when he embarks on a fresh challenge in 2014," Whitmarsh said in the statement.
The Formula One rules are undergoing a major overhaul in 2014, with a new V6 turbo engine and energy recovery systems replacing the current V8s. Mercedes, who have struggled in their three years back in F1 as a team, hope to have an advantage as an engine manufacturer.
Goss, who joined McLaren as a development engineer in 1990, was previously the team's director of engineering. The season starts in Australia on March 17 with Mexican Sergio Perez joining Britain's Jenson Button in the McLaren lineup. Whitmarsh said Goss's promotion was a "natural evolution" in his career and he was not to be under-estimated.
"His quiet and unassuming persona conceals a fierce competitiveness and a wealth of experience, coupled to an unrivalled level of expertise in the field of Formula One car design and engineering," he said.
"It's a little-known fact, for example, that over the past 23 years he's made crucial technical and engineering contributions to the winning of five of McLaren's 12 Drivers' World Championships and three of McLaren's eight Constructors' World Championships. He's been the principal definer and developer of McLaren's F1 car design function for more than five years," added Whitmarsh.