Jan.24 (GMM) The strong rumours of a McLaren versus Mercedes struggle for the services of top engineer Paddy Lowe continued to develop on Thursday.

The latest behind-the-scenes rumbling is that James Allison, Lotus' young and increasingly highly respected technical director, has been sounded out by McLaren as a potential replacement for Lowe.

Ross Brawn, Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal
Ross Brawn, Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal

Photo by: XPB Images

The Mercedes camp, meanwhile, is sending out mixed messages.

On the one hand, spokespeople are refusing to comment, but there is little doubt the push to secure Lowe is being headed by the new German-speaking guard of Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda.

On the other side, in Brackley on Thursday, the current team principal Ross Brawn told reporters: "I am in charge".

His wading into the saga comes after reports he threatened to quit if Lowe arrives, while McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh and Ron Dennis have apparently offered Lowe more money if he stays put.

"I know all the plans for the future of the team and I hope I'm going to be a part of them for a very long time," said an emphatic Brawn.

Brawn hinted that Mercedes' moves for Lowe are on the basis of succession planning, while rumours of his impending exit have been triggered by his dithering over a "long term commitment".

"Obviously with a lot of additions, I want to see how things go before I make a final long term commitment," said Brawn, who admitted he has "talked to Paddy".