Mercedes, the newly-confirmed owners of the Brawn team that will now be renamed Mercedes GP, have insisted that they do not want an all-German driver line-up for the 2010 season and are committed to forging an ‘international team’.
In their first media inquisition since the announcement that the motoring giants had bought a controlling interest in Brawn, Mercedes quashed claims that they are intent on ditching Jenson Button so that Nico Rosberg can be partnered by a fellow German such as Nick Heidfeld or Timo Glock. The assurance may also offer Kimi Raikkonen, no stranger to Mercedes after his stint with McLaren, a F1 lifeline if Button still leaves the team.
“This will be an international team for Mercedes-Benz is a global player. If you look back in our history we have very often been criticised for not having a German driver, so we were always open and we took the driver decision always together with McLaren. This will be the same in the future. We want to have the best ones and we definitely do not want to have the pure German team – it’s an international Silver Arrows team and we want to have the best drivers in the car,” Norbert Haug, in charge of ‘co-ordinating’ the new-look team, insisted to Autosport.
Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler, the company that owns Mercedes, added: “What we would like to see is the best drivers in the two seats. We certainly would not be opposed if one of them was German but that is not a prerequisite.”
Of perhaps critical significance, Zetsch also clarified that Ross Brawn, who will retain his position as team principal, will continue to be in charge of driver negotiations.
Asked specifically if Mercedes will take charge of talks, Zetsch replied: “No. It’s very similar to what we used to have in our partnership before. Very clearly, Ross Brawn is the team principal he runs the team together with his management team. It would not be smart of us to dictate to him anything like a driver decision
Zetsch also revealed that, although the team are “working diligently” on the “topic” of their driver line-up, “no final decision” has been made. According to Haug, it may still be “weeks” before an announcement is made.