Niki Lauda’s comments on wanting Brawn to stay are strange, because they will surely set the rumour mill aflame. He could have said nothing, and nobody would have any reason to believe that Brawn would be going anywhere.
Lauda’s comments make it pretty clear that if Brawn is considering leaving, then he hasn’t decided one way or the other yet. So he’s not the technical signing Martin Whitmarsh was talking about – but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were trying to tempt him over by recruiting lesser-known but highly talented designers to the team. They have Matt Morris from Sauber, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re getting Jason Sommerville from Williams (who solved a lot of the problems with the FW33) and Prodromou from Red Bull (who probably sees a lot of his work credited to Adrian Newey), as Calum said. So a technical team of up-and-coming designers led by Ross Brawn could really revitalise McLaren. And it might be enough to get Alonso back – although he rejected the initial talk of leaving Ferrari, a strong technical team would be very appealing.