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Lewis Hamilton hit by Mercedes in-fighting

By Jonathan McEvoy PUBLISHED: 16:14 EST, 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 18:26 EST, 24 January 2013 Lewis Hamilton’s first official day as a Mercedes driver was overshadowed by infighting, denials and chaos that raise serious doubts over his supposed dream move. That is the inescapable conclusion despite the insistence of team principal Ross Brawn that he will not be replaced by McLaren engineer Paddy Lowe, whose services are sought by Mercedes’ German paymasters. Speaking at the team’s British base in Brackley, Brawn said: ‘Paddy’s not  coming, no. If I choose to leave then Paddy will come. We have a fall-back plan. Simple as that.’ New leaf: Hamilton insists he isn’t joining a team in turmoil But it is not, because Brawn, a key incentive in Hamilton’s decision to move to Mercedes from McLaren, is not his own boss. Instead Niki Lauda, the brusque and bombastic  three-time world champion, is reviewing the team’s operation at the behest of the Mercedes board in Stuttgart, where one victory in three seasons is seen as an inadequate return on their £500million investment. To recap briefly: Lauda has just brought in as executive director Toto Wolff, a 41-year-old fellow Austrian previously destined to take charge of Williams. Wolff, it seemed, had already agreed a deal with Lowe which would have seen him leave his £600,000-a-year job as technical director at McLaren to join  Williams, before making that Mercedes when he moved across. Confident: Lewis Hamilton addressed the Mercedes staff on Thursday This manoeuvring can only be interpreted as an attempted coup d’etat. Even if Brawn has won a reprieve in stalling Lowe’s incursion, the suspicion among well-placed figures is that Wolff and Lauda, who jointly have a 40 per cent stake in the team, will finally axe one of grand prix  racing’s greatest ever engineers.  Brawn was equivocal, even  contradictory, one moment  stating his expectation that he would stay, the next saying: ‘There are a lot of new ingredients and they have to settle down. I want to wait to make sure they are working well.’  He was reserving the right to walk away but not inviting the eventuality. ‘I am team principal,’ he added. ‘I am in charge of sporting, technical and racing matters. Toto’s coming in to look after the commercial activities – something I don’t want to  be involved in. Toto will be  doing a lot of things that are complementary.’ A lot,…

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Posted by admin 25 January 2013

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