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Monday, November 16, 2009

It's official: Mercedes buys into Brawn

Putting to rest weeks of speculation, auto giant Mercedes has bought a major stake in Brawn GP.

BEL: Cars On Display At The International Show

The team will now be known as Mercedes Grand Prix and sport the Silver Arrows livery. Otherwise, officials say they won’t be wholesale changes at the team, Ross Brawn will remain at the helm.

What that means for the future of Jenson Button with the squad should be determined in the next few days. The team is still negotiating with the World Champion, but his asking price has yet to be met.

The team are thought to already have Nico Rosberg on the books, and rumors say Nick Heidfeld or Timo Glock are possibilities to join him.

Indeed, according to the BBC, Norbert Haug said the team was in talks with Heidfeld.

Mercedes was quick to shoot down rumors it is looking for a German-only lineup, however.

"We are talking (with Button) and that's why we cannot announce the driver line-up," Haug said. "We have to accept that speculation takes place, but that's the name of the game. This will be an international team - Mercedes-Benz is a global player. We definitely do not want to have a pure German team. It's an international team and we want to have the best drivers in the car."

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Race

Button has been considering his options. He met with McLaren Friday, touring the team’s Woking facility, and looks to have the inside track to pair up with Lewis Hamilton next season.

He isn’t the only candidate, with Kimi Raikkonen’s name being kicked around as well. But is is believed Button is the preferred choice, with McLaren ready to offer double what Brawn had put on the table for the Englishman, according to reports.

Button wants to have a car capable of bringing him a championship, but one has to wonder should McLaren have that car next year, why the advantage wouldn’t be for Hamilton?

The other big question? What of McLaren’s future plans?

McLaren will not be left high and dry. Mercedes renewed the team’s engine deal for at least six more years.

McLaren will repurchase Mercedes’ 40 percent share incrementally through 2011.

The team will remain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, with the Germans providing a free engine supply and sponsorship.

Ron Dennis said the new agreement will bring the team independence, calling it a win-win for all involved.

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By the numbers

Brawn and chief executive Nick Fry will retain a 24.9% share. The remaining 75.1% will be split between Mercedes, which will own 45.1% and Aabar Investments, which will own 30%.


In other news...

Lotus signs driver, won’t reveal who

Lotus F1 has confirmed it has signed a driver for next season, but has not said who.

Team principal Tony Fernandes made the announcement via Twitter.

“One Malaysia Formula One team aka Lotus has signed its first driver, Public announcement soon. The dream continues.”

Jarno Trulli has been rumored, unless he decides to go NASCAR. The team is also thought to be high on Japanese rookie Kamui Kobayashi.

It would be the second driver signed by one of the newbies, with Campos already having inked a deal with Bruno Senna.

Flav calls FIA hearing a “sham”

Flavio Briatore has accused the FIA of holding secret negotiations before his hearing in September which banned him from the sport.

“The FIA neglects to mention that, according to declarations by one of its own vice-presidents to the media, the world council's decision was rather the outcome of secret negotiations on the eve of the sham hearing.”

The Guardian reports the Italian is seeking €1m in damages.

His appeal will be heard November 24 in Paris.

The FIA, which deplored leaks around the case last week, refused further comment pending the appeal.

Bulgaria out, Czech Republic in?

While Bulgaria appears to have scrapped plans to host a grand prix, the Czech Republic has joined the list of nations looking to get on the calendar.

Plans call for a Prague street circuit. Hermann Tilke is already involved, which would seem to be a good sign. DTM in 2012 is the current target, with plans to lure F1.

"F1 is the ambition," local promoter Toni Charouz told AUTOSPORT. "If we put on a good show with the DTM, then maybe we can have a grand prix, but we've got nothing on paper yet."
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