Formula One: Former team principal Ross Brawn left Mercedes over a lack of trust

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg drives his car during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg drives his car during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit.PHOTO: AFP

AUSTIN (Texas) • Former Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has blamed current bosses and shareholders Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda for a breakdown of trust that led to his departure from the now-dominant Formula One team in 2013.

The 61-year-old Briton, who won the constructors' and drivers' championships with Brawn GP in 2009 before selling it to Mercedes in 2010, set out his version of events in a book to be published in Britain on Nov 3.

"What happened at Mercedes is that people were imposed on me who I couldn't trust," he said in Total Competition, Lessons In Strategy From Formula One, that he co-authored with former Williams chief executive Adam Parr. An advance copy has been made available to Reuters.

"I never knew really what they were trying to do. I mean Niki would tell me one thing, then I would hear he was saying something else."

Brawn, the former Benetton and Ferrari strategist who played a big part in Michael Schumacher's seven world titles, said Wolff made critical comments in a taped conversation with former F1 team boss Colin Kolles.

"He said that I was resting on my money now. I had got all this money and I wasn't interested in the team any more and I wasn't motivated and I wasn't doing this, I wasn't doing that. That the team needed a fresh impetus," said Brawn.

"So I was beginning to deal with people who I didn't feel I could ultimately trust; people within the team who had let me down already in terms of their approach."

Brawn said he then discovered early in 2013 that Paddy Lowe, now technical head at Mercedes, had been signed from McLaren.

"When I challenged Toto and Niki, they both blamed each other," he said. "I met them together to have it out with them and they both pointed to each other."

Neither Wolff nor Lauda were available for comment.

Brawn, 61, said the lack of trust became disconcerting and was not something he was used to. "Even with Paddy Lowe, I was never quite sure - he was quite happy to jump in and take my job," he added. "I couldn't trust those people so I saw no future unless I was willing to go to war and remove them."

The teams return to action at the US Grand Prix this weekend.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Brawn left Mercedes over a lack of trust'. Print Edition | Subscribe