All eyes will turn to Paris’ Place de la Concorde on Thursday, as the very fate of Mercedes’ F1 foray rests in the hands of the governing FIA.
It is at president Jean Todt’s new international tribunal that some sort of penalty is expected to be levied against the German carmaker, after sanctioning a highly-controversial ‘secret’ Pirelli tyre test at Barcelona recently. “I fear a hefty penalty,” commentator Christian Danner told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “Without functioning regulations, a sport like formula one cannot exist.”
Danner admitted he is also expecting further consequences. “Depending on who has made a mistake, heads will roll — either at Mercedes or the FIA,” he predicts.
That corresponds with speculation Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn, who according to Welt newspaper will not be accompanied to Paris by fellow bosses Niki Lauda or Toto Wolff, might be the Brackley based team’s fall guy.
And there have been reports Charlie Whiting could also be in trouble, with the Guardian newspaper saying Brawn has an email from the FIA race director that incorrectly permits the test. “We have nothing to hide,” Wolff told Welt. “We have prepared our documents, on Thursday the judgement will come, and we’ll see if we can live with it. “We are not targeting this outcome or another; we do not even say there necessarily must be an acquittal. There is no judgement that we are expecting. “Our belief is that we have done nothing wrong.”
Nonetheless, it is rumoured that if the FIA acts harshly against Mercedes, the very fate of the Brackley based team is at risk. The ‘tyre-gate’ scandal has given some shareholders of the parent company Daimler fresh ammunition to call for the end of Mercedes’ F1 foray. “The group’s three-digit million spending (on F1) brings nothing to nobody,” said Michael Muders, of Union Investment. “In our opinion, not a single car has been sold because Mercedes is represented by a team in formula one,” he added.
Mercedes-powered McLaren driver Jenson Button, however, is not rushing to judgement ahead of Thursday’s hearing. Asked if he thinks the team got an unfair advantage by testing in Barcelona, he answered: “Both drivers (Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg) have said no. “If they did (get an advantage), they’d have to be lying,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “So I believe them.”
Info: GMM, Image: Mercedes GP