Haug to step down at Mercedes

2012 F1 season

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Norbert Haug will leave Mercedes-Benz Motorsport “by mutual agreement” at the end of the year.

Haug has been in charge of Mercedes’ motorsport activities since 1990. They returned to Formula One as an engine supplier to Sauber in 1994, before switching to McLaren the following year.

The McLaren-Mercedes alliance won 78 Grands Prix in that time and clinched the constructors’ championship in 1998. Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton won a total of three drivers’ championships with Mercedes power.

Mercedes also supplied engines to the Brawn team for in 2009 which resulted in a doubt championship victory, before the outfit was rebranded as the works Mercedes team.

Mercedes scored its first victory as a full constructor since 1955 in China this year. Haug also oversaw successes in DTM and sports car racing during his time.

“I would like to thank the best car company in the world for more than 22 years, which never had a single moment without passion for me,” said Haug.

“I particularly wish to thank the board for the trust and freedom they have always given me with all my activities. Since 1991, we had tremendous achievements and wins, for which I want to thank all of my colleagues.

“Unfortunately, with one victory in 2012 since founding our own Formula One works team in 2010, we couldn’t fulfil our own expectations. However, we have taken the right steps to be successful in the future. Our team and our drivers will do everything to achieve these goals.”

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said: “Norbert Haug was the face of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport programme for more than 20 years. For me, he put his stamp on a whole era and, as a highlight, he was responsible for the successful comeback of the Silver Arrows to Formula One.

“In the name of the board of management and the whole motorsport family, I would like to thank Norbert for his extraordinary commitment to the three-pointed star.”

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Image © Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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65 comments on “Haug to step down at Mercedes”

  1. Well I can’t say I was expecting this? Who’s replacing him?…

    1. @electrolite It’s a shame to see him go. He clearly has a lot of zest for motor sport and not just FOrmula One.

      It could be that he’s been moved aside, after all Mercedes’ three-year plan to bring Schumacher back and make him a champion clearly didn’t work out, and you have to wonder how much it’s cost them.

      He did have thyroid surgery a couple of years ago, I hope he’s fully recovered from that and this announcement does not turn out to be linked to any kind of health problems.

      1. It is indeed a shame – there’s that saying that you only miss someone once they’re gone, and after reading everyone’s thoughts it’s only just made me appreciate his character!

        It could be that he’s been moved aside, after all Mercedes’ three-year plan to bring Schumacher back and make him a champion clearly didn’t work out, and you have to wonder how much it’s cost them.

        You do wonder how much Haug pushed for that…with hindsight, it was a gamble – although a romantic one.

        1. @electrolite Funny that here at F1 Fanatic I see everyone sad with the news, but I was reading Luis Fernando Ramos’ blog (a journalist whom I respect very much) basically saying he is a snob character that won’t be missed (by him of course :P). If you allow me to translate a bit from his article

          “I remember an episode that happened in 2009, right after the ‘liegate’. Haug summoned a meeting with the German press, but what followed wasn’t a press conference, but rather him giving a ‘sermon’ on the journalists for the manner with which they handled the case – with criticism to Hamilton and McLaren, as every other journalist in the world was doing. I listened to the recording and was left astounded as how he (an ex-journalist) sent concepts of freedom of speech and imparciality to hell with and arrogant and distorted discourse”.

          Well, it’s nice to read about the two sides of his character :P

      2. One more of the old guard gone. F1 is continuing its march away from passionate mechanics/engineers/garagistas running the teams and towards corporate wonderkid management boys. No disrespect to Riad Asmat, he seems a nice enough bloke but he just doesn’t have the air of someoned like Frank Williams, Peter Sauber, Ron Dennis or going back a bit Colin Chapman. F1 is losing its established characters and changing irrevocably. I realise this is the natural order of things as people can’t live forever (unless your Bernie) but it does concern me that F1 could evolve into something I no longer like without the right sort of people at the helm.

    2. @electrolite I know you are only saying what a greater majority of people think. However, I think it is a huge mistake to cast aside someone of Norbert Haug’s contribution to F1. Even Mercedes themselves acknowledged the large contribution he made to their return to F1.

      Some team principals/managers don’t deserve the position they hold, and have it due to politics or financial ownership. I think in the case of Norbert Haug, we should celebrate his contribution to the sport and hope he stays within motorsport in the future.

  2. mmmmm… Lauda taking over?

    1. or Schumacher?

      1. Oh…. Interesting…doubt it, but a good rumor to kill the time until next season ;)

        1. Between @celeste and @cyclops_pl, I’m pretty sure one of you will be right. :) More likely to be Lauda, though. Not sure Schumi was ever really that interested in team management. Perhaps a split role, where Schumi is a figurehead but the power is with Lauda.

          1. @journeyer it will certanly be a PR machine if they could pull it off… Hamilton and Schumi together, that will certanly give them lots of covers… don´t know if it will work in real life, Ham and Schumi don´t seem to get alone to me

          2. As far as I know, Schumacher himself has already said he will now be pursuing rodeo riding which his wife is into already @journeyer, @celeste @cyclops_pl.

            Given that it had been a bit of an awkward structure when Lauda got in but Haug was still there, I guess they had been planning for this (Haug leaving and Lauda taking his place) since mid season.

      2. That rumor is being spread as we write. Brazilian F1 jornalists are jumping on it.

    2. I though Haug was the manager of all Mercedes Motorsport, not just F1; including DTM, and Lemans as well.
      I dont know Lauda, but I get the sensation he would be interested in the F1 part only, and not be to interested in the others. Mercedes already has an F1 manager in Brawn.

      I feel Haug’s replacement may not be F1 centric, and will probably be someone we have never seen inside F1 before, as even Haug was not when he left journalism to take his position in Mercedes Motorsport.

  3. First impression: Haug was sacked.

    1. vuelve kowalsky
      13th December 2012, 16:25

      and too late if you ask me. I was always surprised he kept going without much sucess. Many victories but not many titles. Please we are talking mclren mercedes here.
      And his personal image was a digrace.
      Now comes lauda, who ended the jaguar-ford f1 program. Top class drivers don’t make good managers. Everything looks to me that we’ll see hamilton back at mclaren in a few year, with a handfull of victories in the pocket, but no titles.

      1. Many victories but not many titles. Please we are talking mclren mercedes here.

        I hardly thing Haug is responsible for that!

      2. Two words: Ross Brawn

        1. @sorin I was thinking that after this Ross Brawn should be updating his resume… you know, just in case….

        2. I think the two words are on fact
          Lewis Hamilton.

      3. Maybe this is the first sign of Mercedes pulling out of F1. I see the scenario unfolding in a couple of years as follows:

        Mercedes pulls out in the off season.
        At the eleventh hour Brawn buys the team.
        Replacement engines are sourced from McLaren which has started producing its own V6 F1 engines.
        Plans to put Bruno Senna in the second car alongside Hamilton are shelved.
        Brawn exploits a regulation change with a new grey-area rule interpretation.
        Hamilton wins the title but decides to jump ship, rejoining Mclaren.
        Everyone says it is a stupid decision to join “Button’s Team”

        1. @jerseyf1

          Wait… Haven’t we seen that before somewhere? :P

        2. Haha, good one :)

    2. First impression: Haug was sacked.

      The cynic in me believes that it was more a case of Haug knew his head was on the chooping block, and so decided to bow out of his own accord with his dignity intact. Mercedes wanted him out, but didn’t see any need to make a fuss of it or unnecessarily ruin his reputation, so they let him go quietly. Hence, the “mutual agreement”.

      Or it could just mean that Haug was tired and has had enough, but was still under contract with Mercedes, who decided that he’d been good for them for the past twenty years and that if he wanted an early retirement, he could have one.

    3. @magon4 Yep, in business parlance (here in Australia at least) “by mutual agreement” is used when someone is sacked but a decision taken to allow them to preserve their dignity.

  4. well well, Niki to lead the team with his new golden boy then!!

  5. OK, I will start. Knowing that Norbert Haug was big fan of Lewis Hamilton, this surely means Mercedes already is starting sabotaging Hamilton!

    On a more serious note, this is pretty big news. If I’m reading this right, does it mean his head is a price for poor performance of F1 team over last 3 years? Or he had to be sacrificed for Lauda, who is good pal with Bernie? Maybe some details will emerge, because it’s very interesting move.

    1. @armchairexpert, part 1 is silly but part 2 is worth consideration, 1st. Parr and then Haug. Or 1st. round R.Dennis, 2nd. round Parr and Haug, who’s next?

      Part 2. I will be sad to see Haug go, genial, informed, fair, not your steoreotypical German except when it came to precision, engineering and doing it right.

    2. why would mercedes sabotage their own driver that theyve worked so hard to sign? :S

      1. That was aimed at certain Lewis fans, who think their boy was sabotaged by McLaren and Whitmarsh for their love dove, Jenson Button. Nothing serious ;)

  6. I think Norbert clearly did an awful lot for Mercedes in motorsport. 22 years at or near the top speaks for itself. I think that towards the end of the McLaren joint venture, things were looking a bit strained, as Mercedes seemed to want to turn it into a works team, promoting their road cars. McLaren would always have been too proud to accept that role however, and I think rightly so.

    From that perspective, the move to buy brawn and drag in the amg name made a lot of sense. The results, however, meant that someone is for the chop this year. It’s interesting that Haug, and not Ross, is the one held accountable though. Perhaps the decision was taken all the way back to “Who decided to buy this lot” and not “Who’s responsible for the lack of results”.

    If so, it may be a sign that Mercedes expects to get out of f1 as a constructor. If so, that’s a big loss (no I still don’t agree that losing hrt was significant), and final evidence that Bernie really needs to look at the business model, not that he will.

    From what I’ve seen of Norbert however, it wouldn’t surprise me if he volunteered to go, to save other members of the team. He’s always been humble, fair and concerned for the welfare of others in any interview I’ve seen. A decent, upstanding bloke and it’ll be poorer without him, unlike arrogant clueless gobblers like Luca and Marko.

    1. davidnotcoulthard
      13th December 2012, 15:46

      You don’t want to see the only team to have raced a 6-wheeled F1 car and years later had 2 cars, in the same session, crashing at Eau Rouge to bow out, right?

        1. @brace He means Tyrrell, which became BAR, then Honda, then Brawn, then Mercedes.

      1. You don’t want to see the only team to have raced a 6-wheeled F1 car and years later had 2 cars, in the same session, crashing at Eau Rouge to bow out, right?

        I didn’t but it happened 14 years ago and this is not them.

  7. I’ll never forget him with Ron Dennis and Mika Hakkinen during my early F1 days, even though they were the enemy as a Schumacher supporter.

    One recent memory I always remember is Norbert Haug sitting in the McLaren garage during the race and Nicole Scherzinger jumping around in front of him after Hamilton made a pass on track. His face was priceless.

  8. My favorite Norbert memory is this moment from Nurburgring 2003:


    Norbert has played a huge part in F1 history, probably even bigger than what he had in mind when he started as a motorsport journo. Bringing back Mercedes to F1, winning titles with McLaren (and helping Brawn, don’t forget), re-entering F1 as a full works team for the first time in half a century, helping revive DTM – and winning it multiple times. That is a heck of a lot accomplished in 22 years with Mercedes-Benz.

    Enjoy your retirement, Norbert. You’ve deserved it. Join Schumi at the ranch, maybe? ;)

    1. Love that clip :)

    2. In 986 races with Mercedes cars or Mercedes powered cars with him they have won 439. Sadly in the last couple of years Mercedes performance by themselves hasn’t been as impressive.
      Since Lauda joined them, Schumacher left and now Haug, my sympathies for the team have waned immensely (but then again, who cares about my sympathies). Sometimes big changes can do wonders, but I’d be somewhat sorry for him if they can turn themselves back in a more successful direction quickly.

    3. lol is that Nico Rosberg at 1:39? :)

      1. It surely looks like him!

    4. Great clip. I loved his awkward high five/hug/collision with Brawn after Rosberg’s win in China. Funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.

  9. Not Norbert! He entertains me tremendously :(

    I wonder what the mutual agreement was, it implies that it wasn’t all of one sides making…Sounds like he’s making room for someone big.

  10. Damn, I was always a big fan of Norbert. In many ways he reminded me of a fat, older version of Vettel- kind, funny, soft spoken, but incredibly passionate and competitive. I wonder what this means for Hamilton, as he (Norbert) was always a huge supporter of Lewis, and was undoubtedly part of the reason why Hamilton moved to Mercedes. Perhaps he will remain in an “advisory” role with the team, but I can’t help but think his head was offered to the corporate gods as a justification for MB’s continued participation in F1.

  11. Norbert Haug was the face of Mercedes competition. He was always present in the F1 races, in DTM and in Sports-Cars when Mercedes AMG was there officially.

    Him leaving the team/company is surely a big surprise, but the recent years seem to be the years of the changes in what comes to Motorsport and seeing the “eternal” people stepping down (Ron Dennis, Frank Williams, Peter Sauber)…

  12. Got to pay for that Hamilton contract somehow…

    1. Lack of money is a real problem at Mercedes…

      1. @edmarques – their budget isn’t limitless, especially given their relative lack of results in the past three years. I’m not saying that Haug was dropped for financial reasons, but Mercedes probably want to see things shaken up a bit within the team to avoid another embarrassing season of mediocrity.

        1. You are responding to an equally sarcastic comment as your first seriously….

          You know this right?

  13. Schummy is coming I think. Who better than the biggest winner of all to mold the driver with the most pure talent on the grid?
    Sad fot Norbert though.

  14. Wow heavy, when you think of Mercedes in motorsport Haug usually comes second. I think it is a shame he has to go, I’ve always found him a very reasonable man. Their could be two reasons why he has to leave:
    1. Schumi is one the way.
    2. Someone at Mercedes is not happy about the results.

    1. *There could be two reasons* Stupid keyboard!

  15. That’s a real shame :-/

  16. Lauda seems surprised.
    Marc Surer, commentator for Sky Deutschland and former F1 driver, seems to think Lauda knew and might have even influenced the decision. Lauda says he is surprised and shocked.

    1. Remember Flavios performance in Singapore!

    2. Lauda also dismissed rumors of him going to Mercedes shortly before he actually did. I would tend to believe Marc Surer in this case. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some sort of power play going on behind the scenes. It might be good for Mercedes, but only time will tell.

  17. So now we must be all curious where Haug will turn up next in motorsport land …

    1. If knows engines well and is not just a manager, imagine Ferrari grabbing him. Damn, the things this guy must know…

  18. Makes sense for somebody to move aside at Mercedes. With Lauda on board it was rapidly becoming a case of “too many chiefs.”

    I’m sure Mercedes will be fine, what with Lauda’s hilarious established pedigree at Jaguar.

  19. I think this is rotten news. Norbert was an absolute stalwart of MB’s motorsport and really made their domestic DTM program sing. he was also highly involved in the MB F3 engine program and the Le Mans effort that brought drivers like Webber into F1. On a personal note, he was the only F1 luninary I ever met and he allowed me over an hour’s conversation in my rotten German and his not-so-good English.
    Last month Norbert turned sixty, so maybe there is some kind of MB executive policy that hands out gold watches when you reach that milestone. Personally, I hope they also hand out many millions of Euros to allow Norbert to enjoy his retirement and get involved in some non-MB grass roots racing.

  20. Putting Brawn in charge of the whole thing would be a pretty smart move.

  21. Shame to see him go but that team already has too many leading designers, engineers and folks who could easily become team principal of five different teams. Plus now they have Niki Lauda, some changes had to be made indeed. Hopefully Ross Brawn and his peers can turn things around at Mercedes GP.

  22. Guess this only goes to prove that Formula One is serious business when things dont go right. Even if you have a 2 decade long resume of successfully doing right by the corporation you work for and helping them become a well known motorsports name. Not just for us but for the common person as well.

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