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Mercedes preparing for life after Brawn?

ESPN Staff
January 23, 2013 « Kubica to test a Mercedes DTM car | Massa will 'try everything' to beat Alonso in 2013 »
New driver Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes' factory in Stuttgart

Despite denials from Mercedes' new chief executive Toto Wolff, rumours continue to circulate that team principal Ross Brawn is going to be replaced by McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe as part of an overhaul of the team's structure after three seasons which have produced only one win.

Pressed to comment, Wolff said that he "hoped Ross was going to stay" while McLaren, where Lowe is understood to have one year left on his contract, remained silent on the matter. A flat denial would have quelled speculation there and then.

Wolff dismissed questions over Brawn's future as well as those asking if Lowe was being sought. "At this stage it would be foolish to come in and speak about replacing anybody," he said. "There is speculation which is coming up in some of the media." But by Wednesday morning the consensus in the media was that Lowe was on his way.

If Lowe does move then he could face six months on the sidelines on gardening leave before being able to take up his new role. In those circumstances Brawn might be asked to keep going but, independently wealthy after the sale of the Brawn team to Mercedes, it seems unlikely he would want to carry on under those circumstances.

All this has rather overshadowed the pre-season PR work of Mercedes' new driver Lewis Hamilton. He is due to face the British media on Thursday alongside Brawn. It is not too hard to imagine the line of questioning and Hamilton will have to answer if he was aware of the shake-up when he signed for the team.