Too many cooks spoil the broth is an old age saying but the relevance and its meaning still holds true. It’s relevance quite visible in the Mercedes Team headoffice. Ross Brawn, arguably one of the most successful team principals in the history of the sport, decided to leave Mercedes at the end of the 2013 season amid speculation that he did not approve of the re-structuring which would not allow “one man on top,” singular principal structure.
With the German manufacturer hiring Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe among others in the past 11 months, it was clear that Brawn was in the process of being sidelined. So with Brawn taking time off to go fishing, are Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe ready to take up the gauntlet at Mercedes? Let’s have a look.
Toto Wolff – The Businessman
A race driver himself, Wolff would be managing the business side of Mercedes Team as Executive Director. Wolff who parted ways with Williams(he still owns 16% shares of the team) at the beginning of 2013, joined the team as in charge of Mercedes-Benz’s motorsport activities and serve as a replacement for Norbert Haug. Wolff , a compatriot of Nikki Lauda, had been associated with Mercedes through a 49 per cent stake in an engineering company which helps run the German car manufacturer’s DTM programme. Wolff who also runs an investment firm which is associated with other motorsport programmes in Europe and is considered to be one with a shrewd business acumen and one who knows where to put his money.
Paddy Lowe – The Technical Man
In January 2013, Mercedes announced that Paddy Lowe would join the team, coming from rival Mclaren. Lowe moved who moved to Mclaren in 1993, worked with the British team as Head of Research and Development and later as Chief Engineer Systems Development. In 2005 moved into the role of Engineering Director, which gave him responsibility for all the engineering departments. In 2011 Lowe became the team’s Technical Director.
Nikki Lauda, non-executive Chairman, played a pivotal role in getting Lowe to make the transition to Mercedes keeping in mind that he had worked with the team’s start driver Lewis Hamilton. While in the context it seemed the idea behind hiring Lowe was to strengthen the team’s technical backbone, it was only later understood that he was to be groomed into a leadership role working in assistance with Brawn giving more responsibility over a period of time. But Brawn saw that as an encroachment of his authority to lead the team.
While Lowe may have the necessary techinical knowledge from his experience, but clearly there are question marks over his abilities to lead the team in the absence of Brawn.
It seems there’s hardly anything between Lowe and Wolff that beats Brawn’s ability to manage a team. Brawn was the architect behind the success of practically every team he was involved with, winning Constructor’s and driver’s titles with Michael Schumacher at Benetton, before bagging six consecutive titles at Ferrari with the German driver. With his abilities he was able to mastermind the Championship win in 2009. It seems that Lowe and Wolff will have a hard time filling in the shoes of Brawn.
While Mercedes seem optimistic about the 2014 car, the whole restructuring might prove to be a gamble. It is only a matter of time before we shall get to know if Mercedes are able to move ahead in Brawn’s absence or whether we shall witness a downfall of another team from the top of the grid?Published 03 Dec 2013, 18:30 IST