The F1 world is holding its collective breath ahead of the ‘test-gate’ hearing in Paris on Thursday.
Predictably, rumours are swirling.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims Mercedes boss Ross Brawn might be armed not only with an email from Charlie Whiting, but a separate document in which the highly controversial Barcelona test is green-lighted by the FIA’s legal department.
But also rumoured is that it will be shown that Mercedes, and possibly also Pirelli, were clearly in the wrong, in which case severe penalties could await, and heads could roll.
“Most people who are talking do not know the facts,” Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, who will not be in Paris, is quoted by Kleine Zeitung.
Indeed, Wolff has been busy in the last few days, and fellow team shareholder Niki Lauda admitted to Blick newspaper he spent “the whole Montreal weekend trying to prevent the (tribunal) process”.
Wolff’s efforts of the last days, including meetings with Bernie Ecclestone in London, and Jean Todt in Paris, were also in vain, according to Sport Bild.
So, also to appear before the 12-judge panel on Thursday morning will be Pirelli’s Paul Hembery.
With Brawn representing Mercedes alone, Wolff denied the team’s British boss – whose future successor Paddy Lowe is already working at Brackley – is the scapegoat.
“Ross Brawn is not being sacrificed in Paris. That’s not in my nature,” Wolff told Bild.
“Ross doesn’t need someone like me there, holding his hand.”
However, there is speculation that in the event of a high penalty – like hefty points deductions and a two-digit million fine – Brawn might voluntarily step down.
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by motorline.cc as suggesting that a penalty, if any, “should be decided by the FIA”.
“But usually a sporting penalty should be imposed for a sporting offence,” he added, suggesting a mere fine will not be enough.
Former driver Marc Surer agrees: “Only a fine would mean that a team like Red Bull could also test for 1000 kilometres — it would be relatively expensive, but doable.
“So there must be a sporting penalty,” he insisted.
© RIF | GMM