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Mercedes looks to expand team

NEWS STORY
22/08/2011

Mercedes is set to increase its workforce in an attempt to claw back ground to the leading teams, Ross Brawn has revealed.

Brawn confirmed the team is currently on a recruitment drive as it looks to expand up to the threshold permitted by the teams' Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA).

"We're just looking at finding the optimum combination of how much money we spend outside the company, and how much we spend inside in terms of employing people," he said. "We've always had some headroom because we've never operated at the maximum, and we're looking to use some of that headroom for the future."

However, while Mercedes is looking to grow its workforce others are looking to shrink. With teams afforded a 'glide path' to the RRA staffing levels some are still to reach the personnel figures the agreement outlines.

This season Mercedes appointed Bob Bell as Technical Director, the Englishman driving a number of changes within the team according to Brawn. "Bob's identified some areas he feels we should be stronger. The infrastructure has to be in place before you can start adding numbers and I think we've strengthened this structure, and that's emphasised perhaps some areas we need to strengthen," said the Englishman. "It's always nice to do well with the smallest numbers possible, but there is the RRA limit. We're looking to move to that absolute limit."

The RRA specifies where teams can and cannot invest, allowing them to juggle personnel numbers against the expenditure on outsourcing. "The limit is a headcount and an amount of money. The more you do inside, the less you spend outside, the more people you can have. You can juggle the two," explained Brawn.

Also limited under the agreement is the number of staff teams are allowed to take to Grands Prix, while falling outside are the associated travel costs. It's a complicated accounting web which some teams are keen to see changed.

Some have suggested the number of staff allowed to travel to Grands Prix should be increased. It's a concept Brawn is cautiously in favour of. "It's probably true to say that RRA was born in one of the biggest financial crisis we've had in recent history," he admits. "Perhaps things have softened a little bit since then but I think we all recognise that we have to have limits. It's the nature of Formula One to try and maximise everything you can do to those limits.

"I think the number of people at the track doesn't change RRA, because the headcount still encompasses those people," he continued. "Quite honestly we can manage with the 47 that we're allowed."

"I do tend to agree with that, if we make it 55 this year there'd be an argument for next year, then 65," he argued. "Where there's a little bit of debate in the team is there's some expectations that you're allowed, and there's some arguments from teams that bringing someone who can only clean the garage but can't touch the car is not very efficient. If we had some better definitions it might change slightly, but in reality the number of people you're bringing won't be so different.

"What we don't want to see is creping numbers at the track, because travel is not for instance a cost in RRA. If you start to increase your travel costs that's not a cost you have to account for in RRA expenses. That can start to be an extra overhead because RRA is not everything you spend, and there's a lot of costs outside of RRA that the team still has to meet."

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