'Brawn would handle fall-out better'

Monday 02-June-2014 13:00

Former F1 driver John Watson believes Mercedes are in need of someone of "the quality of Ross Brawn" to handle their current driver issues.

Tensions boiled over at Mercedes last time out in Monaco when Nico Rosberg took pole position in questionable circumstances.

Adding insult to injury, for Lewis Hamilton at least, the German used that pole position to take the victory in Monte Carlo. He also took the lead in the Drivers' Championship.

The animosity between the two was apparent on the podium and in the post-race comments although that has subsequently been toned down with Hamilton declaring that he has spoken with his team-mate to clear the air.

However, Watson, who competed in 152 F1 grands prix, believes the situation would never have deteriorated to that point had Brawn been in at the helm.

"Both Hamilton and Rosberg have grown up in a gilded world which is as real as fantasy is. They are not emotionally equipped or developed to know how to deal with this battle, and I don't believe there is anyone of the quality of Ross Brawn at Mercedes who has that ability either," he told the Daily Mail.

"Indeed, if Brawn had been running the team, as he had been up until last year, the situation between the two drivers would have been handled a lot better."

The Brit added that the situation was also not helped by non-executive director Niki Lauda calling Hamilton "unbeatable" after his Spanish GP win.

He added: "What you have got now at Mercedes is a very different management structure based on a different platform with different managers all at a similar level. Then you have got Niki Lauda acting as 'the Godfather'.

"Lauda is on record as saying Hamilton was 'unbeatable' after winning in China, Bahrain and Spain, and I have no doubt that there will have been an element of "what about me?" from Rosberg. In Spain, his body language was not positive. I noticed that when they were doing the group photograph, they all gave a big cheer, but Rosberg didn't.

"Unconciusly, the team gravitates towards the the driver who is getting the job done, and ahead of the race in Monaco that would have been Hamilton. So, Rosberg will have begun to feel that he was getting subjugated out of the picture because everything was focused on Hamilton - the Briton having won four races on the spin.

"Also, in Spain, it turned out that Hamilton had used a power boost button, which is saved for qualifying principally, during the race to defend his position against Rosberg who was catching him up. He shouldn't have done that, and suddenly, all those resentments from Rosberg build into big issues.

"Niki said he will 'sort it out', and he is a very pragmatic man, but in a sense he is part of the problem because has been 'bigging up' Hamilton."

Worryingly for Mercedes, though, Watson doubts whether Toto Wolff or Paddy Lowe have the ability to deal with the team-mate issues either.

"I don't see anyone at Mercedes with the authority, the credibility and the gravitas that Brawn had. If you think back to last year's Malaysian Grand Prix, Rosberg wanted to catch and pass Hamilton, and Brawn emphatically said: "No. Hold position." It is not just what you say, it is the way you say it and it is the person who says it. Rosberg thought about it, but then obeyed the command.

"Is Toto Wolff more interested in talking to the press and projecting himself? Does he really have the authority? And what of Paddy Lowe? He is a fantastic guy, but he is not the person to deal with this feud. Lauda is a very clever man, but I don't know what authority he has either. At the end of the day, if there was one person who could kick ass in that team, it is the person that they let go.

"Formula One isn't like golf, tennis, boxing or any other individual sport. You are playing for a team, and there are responsibilities that come with that. It goes back to having someone on the pit-wall with authority that everybody in the team - drivers, engineers, whoever - actually respect.

"And at the minute there is nobody I see at Mercedes who has that level of respect within that management structure that Ross Brawn would have carried."

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