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Pre-Japan analysis - Mercedes men back Brawn 11 Oct 2013

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 10 October 2013 Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 10 October 2013 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 10 October 2013 Nico Rosberg sends sparks flying as the nose of his Mercedes drops, dragging his front wing on the track, as he passes team mate Lewis Hamilton Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 10 October 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 10 October 2013

Amid fresh speculation in the German media that he might be considering handing over the reins of the Mercedes team to Paddy Lowe, Ross Brawn received warm support from both of his drivers at Suzuka yesterday.

Lewis Hamilton made it very clear that he wanted him to stay, and said that the team leader had been instrumental in his decision to join the team from McLaren in 2012.

"We had some really good conversations when we sat together before I made my decision, as I did with Niki Lauda,” he said. “Ross took me through the team’s plans and where they were going and was very influential in bringing me there. He's a great boss and I enjoy working with him. I don't know what his plans are for the future, but I'd like him to stay.

"Ross is very competitive, as were Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh. I grew up with Ron, and also with Martin. He was very much a part of that beneath Ron and took control of my direction. They were both like parents to me.

“Ross is a very, very friendly guy and I grew up watching him on TV and so I already had an idea of his personality. He's a very easy-going, very approachable, and he's very much responsible for the atmosphere he has helped create in the team. He’s also very technical and has direct input into all the briefs and strategies and how to work the team. Those are things that I see as his strengths."

Team mate Nico Rosberg echoed Hamilton's sentiments.

"For me, it would be great if he stays because I get on well with him and I think he's a great team principal," he said. "At the same time, I have confidence in the team leadership's ability to make sure that we have a solid future whatever his decision is because we have a lot of great strength in the team as it is now.

"People respect Ross and he respects people, so it goes both ways. The mentality he brings to the team is very strong - and his general competence of course."

Rosberg also said that Mercedes knows why his front wing failed in Korea, costing him the chance of a podium finish. "The design has been the same for eight years and has never been a problem, it's just a very strange, unusual thing. I know what it was but I don't know what to share. There was a fault in the material and that was it."

The failure affected one side of the wing, and recurrence is not expected despite the rigours of high-downforce Suzuka, where both Hamilton and Rosberg expect their W04 to be competitive despite the traction problem in Korea.

"It's difficult to say at the moment which tracks suits our car and which not," Rosberg admitted. "If you look at Singapore, we were quickest except for Red Bull, so you can't say our traction is a disaster because Singapore is all about traction. If anything, maybe my tendency would be to think that high-speed corners are even better for us so this should be a good track."

“We were very strong in the middle sector in Korea,” Hamilton said, “and that’s all about balance and the compromise you make between the different sectors. I’m sure that the traction problem will be there, but we are very good on high-downforce tracks so we should be good this weekend. But we have to see where we are with Red Bull because they are always quick everywhere.”

When asked who else might win here, Hamilton had replied tongue-in-cheek: “Mark,” meaning Mark Webber. But the Australian may face a fresh challenge over the final races. He is relatively heavy at 77 kg, compared to Sebastian Vettel at 72, and his special lightweight RB9 chassis was destroyed by the collision with Adrian Sutil in Korea. The German’s Force India punctured the Red Bull’s monocoque, prior to the fire which then damaged it further, and a new standard chassis has been shipped out for Webber to drive in the final five races, putting him at a small disadvantage. This will be fitted with the same engine and gearbox he used in Korea.

With only four podiums under his belt in 2013, Webber is keen to end his F1 career with a final victory, which would bring his tally to 10.

"The pace hasn't been too bad but we know we've missed a huge amount of points this year through a lot of misfortune," he said. "I'm looking forward to Brazil in lots of ways in terms of getting more results and having more races to get a nicer finish to the year than we have had in this middle part. Just some smooth weekends, that's all we need to be able to get some nice results. There have been quite a few challenging technical issues which have been difficult to address. Given that it has been quite stagnant in terms of technical development, there have been a few problems that have slipped through the net in the last six months, which have been surprising to a few of us."

David Tremayne

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