Mercedes GP chiefs have dismissed talk that the team's fortunes are being hit by damaging friction at management level, as the team knuckles down to get itself back to the front in F1.
Rumors in the build-up to the Singapore Grand Prix suggested that team principal Ross Brawn and Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug were at loggerheads over the future direction of the team. The speculation gained further momentum when Nico Rosberg suggested that the team needed to make changes to recover the ground lost this year.
However, team principal Brawn has denied any such dispute exists within the team, and says that the only way that Mercedes GP can return to winning ways is if the team sticks together and agrees wholly on where it is heading.
"My experience is that you have a philosophy or an approach to do the job, and you follow that philosophy, you follow that approach and you hope that brings the results," said Brawn, when asked by AUTOSPORT about the team situation. "So I have a philosophy and culture within the company of encouraging everyone, helping them understand where we are not strong enough and understand where we have to be better.
"If there are any gaping holes, then we have to fill them – but I don't think there are any major gaping holes. Obviously, the majority here are people who won the championship last year, but it is an ever-evolving business. If you don't improve your organization as well as improve your car, then you will fall behind."
Brawn says that the team is still suffering the growing pains that came out of its troubled transition from Honda to Brawn GP to Mercedes GP, but he believes that the team is on the path to get the most out of its new owners.
"I think for sure we are now in a much better position in terms of building a company for the future," he said. "Last year was a fairy story, but this time last year we had probably just started getting an inkling that we didn't know where we would be. We didn't know what the future held.
"You have probably seen that we had quite good trading figures last year, but they were to give us the money to run this year if we didn't get the partnerships we needed. But, luckily, we got the partnerships we needed.
"We didn't know this time last year where we were going to be. We know now, and we are taking advantage of those opportunities to build the strongest team we can for the future.
"That means finding all the opportunities we can have within Daimler, as well as just the racing team. Daimler has got a fantastic portfolio library of technology that we need to tap into, and we have started that process now. That is really exciting for me, because I have seen many times in the past that if you manage that, then it is a real asset to the company."
Speaking about his relationship with Haug, Brawn said: "There is no problem between Norbert and me. We are both unhappy about the results. We show that occasionally, but we both work together – and we are going to make this thing succeed.
"And only together can we have success. I don't love everyone in my team but I work professionally – and that's not to say that I don't love Norbert. We have known each other a very long time but things are not quite right yet and we are all building together to put the structure and organization in place that we want for the future. And when you get that ball rolling, when you get it working, then it is very powerful."
Haug echoed Brawn's feelings on the situation, and said that Mercedes-Benz should be given some credit for having stuck with its F1 program during difficult times while manufacturers like BMW and Toyota had turned their backs on the sport.
"It [last year] was a difficult period of time for this team, being very successful on the one side but not knowing what the future would bring. For us also, being in the middle of a very tough automobile crisis like never before.
"You saw other manufacturers chose to stop their involvement in F1, and I think it is very positive that Mercedes is committed for the future. We have a great team, great assets and it was a win-win situation. It is not yet a win situation on the racetrack, but we will do that and I am absolutely sure of it.
"We trust absolutely in Ross and the technical team. If rumors like that come up, I can understand them in a way, but we are not Hollywood stars embracing each other in the paddock and playing games. Maybe sometimes you think we looked stressed or whatever, but we know how it feels to win and sometimes probably are a little bit concentrated or grumpy or whatever. But this is real life and I think we work together in an excellent way in all areas. And, of course, it is a learning process for all of us."
Haug also played down talk that Mercedes GP's failure to win a race this season had led to increased pressure from board members in Stuttgart.
"This talk of pressure from Stuttgart, this is just ridiculous. We make our pressure; this is home-made pressure in the team. There are not board members in Stuttgart telling us to do this and this and this. They are very well informed, and if they would not have been informed it would not have been the basis to go forward when other people stopped, other manufacturers stopped.
"We accelerated in a way. We did not waste our money but spent it in an absolutely remarkable, positive way and that is it."
He added: "That rumors are coming out is normal. We heard rumors about Michael [Schumacher, ABOVE], we heard rumors about us. You know that Ross is even longer in the business and I think there is one rule – if we say 'Yes' it is yes, if we say 'No' it is no and if we say 'No comment,' then you can speculate. The clear answer: No, there are no frictions. But yes, we want to do a better job in the future."