Has 'top dog' Ross Brawn decided to leave Mercedes? The team refuse to comment

Speculation has been rife the team principal will step down at the end of the season

Mercedes have refused to comment on speculation that Ross Brawn will step down from his position as team principal at the end of the season.

Brawn said earlier in the campaign that he could walk away from Mercedes if he is no longer "top dog" at the team.

Brawn's future has been the subject of speculation ever since Mercedes brought in Paddy Lowe from McLaren, who has been viewed as a potential successor to the 58-year-old.

Reports on Tuesday morning claimed Brawn had failed to reach a satisfactory agreement with his employers over his role next season and would therefore leave the team following the final race of the calendar in Brazil on November 24.

It was suggested that Mercedes would then be run in tandem by their two executive directors, Toto Wolff and Lowe, along with non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.

A spokesman for Mercedes did not comment specifically on the story when contacted by Press Association Sport. He did point out that Lauda had already confirmed Mercedes will not announce anything regarding Brawn's future until the end of the season, however.

Lauda, speaking at the Japanese race at Suzuka, said: "There's no decision on how things will be in the long term.

"My goal is clearly to retain him, but he will only make the decision at the end of the year."

Given Brawn's impeccable record in Formula One, it is clear that there would be many takers for his services should he depart.

McLaren have already been mentioned as a possible destination, although Brawn himself denied he had spoken to any other team at the start of the month.

Honda return as an engine supplier in 2015 and Brawn ran their previous F1 effort before the team took on his own name when Honda pulled out.

Brawn rose to prominence with Benetton in the 1990s, when he helped guide Michael Schumacher to his first two world titles.

He then moved to Ferrari with the German, who went on to win another five drivers' championships.

After a brief stint with Honda, Brawn set up his own F1 team, which was taken over by Mercedes in 2009.

Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have fared reasonably well this term in the face of the growing power of Red Bull. Rosberg sits in sixth position with three races to go and 2008 world champion Hamilton lies in fourth.

Hamilton recently said Brawn was one of the main reasons why he joined Mercedes and professed his desire for the team principal to stay.

Hamilton said: "Ross is a great boss and I'm enjoying working alongside him.

"I don't know what his plans are for the future, but of course I'd like him to stay."