Lauda and Wolff to be absent in Paris as Brawn set to take the heat alone

Niki Lauda with Toto Wolff

Niki Lauda with Toto Wolff

Mercedes has confirmed that new team co-owners and chiefs Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff will not be in Paris on Thursday for the hearing regarding the team’s test in Barcelona recently, while the heat mounts on Mercedes ahead of their D-Day in Paris

We reported on Monday that team boss Ross Brawn will be the sole representative of the management of the German carmaker’s Brackley based F1 team as it faces the wrath of the FIA over ‘test-gate’.

A Mercedes spokesman confirmed Brawn’s attendance, and the absence of director Wolff, and chairman Lauda, to the German news agency DPA.

Brawn, who according to speculation could lose his job as a result of the ‘secret’ tyre test scandal, will be accompanied by lawyers as well as team engineers, the APA news agency reported.

Triple world champion Lauda might be staying away from Paris, but he insists that Mercedes should not be penalised for testing at Barcelona with its 2013 car.

Is Ross Brawn being lined up to be the fall-guy for Mercedes?

Is Ross Brawn being lined up to be the fall-guy for Mercedes?

“Mercedes got permission to test the 2013 car,” he is quoted by the German broadcaster RTL. “The tribunal will show who is right.”

Lauda has reportedly wagered 50 euros with Red Bull’s Helmut Marko over the outcome of Thursday’s hearing, with the latter saying: “If this test is without consequence, negotiations about limiting costs will end and Pandora’s box will open.”

Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, however, reported that the job of Pirelli’s Formula 1 boss Paul Hembery could also be on the line “depending on what happens in Paris”.

Correspondent Livio Oricchio said Brawn, Lauda and Wolff should also be worried.

“Public opinion in Europe has extraordinary strength, and changing leadership is a way to respond,” he wrote.

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Mercedes under fire

The headline grabbing saga has also provided a strong argument for those Daimler shareholders not wanting Formula 1 involvement to lobby for the manufacturer to pull out.

Earlier this year Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper quoted shareholders – Michael Muders of the fund manager Union, and Henning Gebhardt, of DWS – as criticising Mercedes’ investment in F1.

“Mercedes has been behind for years, without consequence,” said Michael Muders. “But F1 is expensive and brings nothing to the [Daimler] group.”

Gebhardt added: “F1 no longer enhances the image [of Mercedes], especially if we are in countries criticised of human rights violations.” (GMM)

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