Formula One’s mega-rich mastermind Ross Brawn has rubbished suggestions he could be on his way back to Ferrari.
The paddock rumour mill, abuzz around the weekend’s F1 re-opener, the Belgian grand prix at Spa, rumbled with gossip that Brawn would quit Mercedes for the Italian legends if he fails to hit it off this season with the German outfit.
He was the brains behind all seven of grand prix genius Michael Schumacher’s world titles with Benetton and Ferrari and shaped Jenson Button’s championship success in 2009.
And now he is scheming to steer great Briton Lewis Hamilton, running third after his third place from pole in Belgium, to a second world crown.
As the season shut down for its summer break Mercedes, with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, had grabbed seven pole placings in the last eight races and three wins from the closing five GPs.
‘We’ve picked up some strength,’ said Brawn, ‘and the team is in great spirits right now. But there is still a lot do.’
It was suspected Brawn was not best pleased when Paddy Lowe was drafted from McLaren into the team’s United Kingdom HQ as executive technical director.
But Mercedes insist: ‘Ross is still in charge. We hope he is going to stay.’
Brawn, reckoned to be the greatest of all the grand prix bosses would be the top target for a return to Ferrari.
He owns a luxury mansion in Italy. He loves Italy. And Italy loves him. Well, at least the multitudes of grateful Ferrari aficionados who treasure the five successive championships he supervised for the Prancing Horse set-up in their finest ever spell.
If the offer for an all-action replay of his glory days at Maranello - stupendously financed – came his way could he…dare he…cold shoulder it? Especially if the Mercedes venture plummets.
I doubt it.
With a £100m in the bank does a 59-year-old like him need the pressure of life in the fast lane where failure is rapidly and ruthlessly punished? Yes, I believe so. And that is because his heart and soul is committed to the challenge…and the richly rewarding joy of success.
Not unexpectedly Brawn is remaining mute on the rumours. Not that they will go away.
His only response, when pressed, is: ‘Frankly, I have never spoken to Ferrari about a possible return. Sure, I have wonderful memories of my time with them and I really do love Italy.
‘But I am happy at Mercedes. We are doing a great job. And Paddy’s arrival does not alter my situation,’ he said.
None of the above, however, completely wipes out the likelihood of what be a sensational return if Mercedes flop into a lapse mode.