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SBD Global/February 27, 2013/Franchises

Niki Lauda's Comments Put Doubt Over Paddy Lowe's Future

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Mercedes Chair Niki Lauda has backed Ross Brawn as his team principal at Mercedes "but cast a shadow over the future of the man he hired to replace him," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The furore over the appointment of Paddy Lowe "took a new twist" after Lauda did an abrupt about-turn only hours after McLaren’s technical director was replaced and effectively put on gardening leave. Lauda said that his team principal "was not going anywhere" but then seemed to suggest that Lowe might not be joining the team despite a protracted courtship. Lauda said, “If Paddy Lowe is coming or not, I cannot tell you now. Make up your own mind, whatever you want to do. The situation is as it is. McLaren have put [Lowe] on gardening leave, so let’s wait and see." Brawn is "already working closely" with Lewis Hamilton, his new driver who "believes they are forging a bond that could help transform a team that has under-performed for the past three seasons." Lowe is an "unlikely figure to be caught up in such a high-profile row." He is "quiet-spoken and popular around the paddock" and a long-time McLaren man who showed no signs of frustration with his team (LONDON TIMES, 2/26).

PUTTING ON A BRAVE FACE: In London, Paul Weaver wrote McLaren says they couldn't "have stopped their technical director, Paddy Lowe, following Lewis Hamilton to join a reshaped Mercedes team at Brackley." Lowe, one of the highest-rated designers in Formula One, will finish out his current contract at Woking before moving to the German team at the end of the year. When asked if he could have precented the move, McLaren Managing Dir Jonathan Neale said: "Slavery was abolished a long period of time ago. It's really difficult to indenture somebody." Instead, the clear message from Neale and driver Jenson Button was "the technical director is dead, long live the technical director." Button said of Lowe's successor: "Having Tim Goss in the position is fantastic. He is the guy who designed the 2012 car that won seven races last year so he knows what he's doing" (London GUARDIAN, 2/26).
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