The future of Mercedes' participation in Formula 1 appears to be at stake as the team prepares to head to Paris on Thursday for the 'testgate' hearing in front of the International Tribunal.

It is believed some level of punishment will be given to Mercedes for participating in a 1000km test with it's 2013 car with Pirelli at Barcelona last month and some believe heads are likely to roll both at Mercedes and within the FIA.

"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.

Indeed Mercedes Director and shareholder Toto Wolff has said neither he or motorsport chairman Niki Lauda will accompany Team Principal Ross Brawn to the hearing, a sign the former Ferrari engineer could be the 'fall guy' at Mercedes.

However FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting is also in the firing line according to some who believe Mercedes has an email from Whiting to the team wrongly giving permission for Mercedes to go ahead with 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."

Now bosses at Mercedes' parent company Daimler, who have always been sceptical of the German carmakers participation in the sport, are using this saga to push their case forward for Mercedes to leave the sport.

"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.

Should any sort of pull-out occur from Mercedes it would be a major blow for F1 and the four teams currently buying engines from the automaker.

One of those teams is McLaren and driver Jenson Button is not rushing to judgement ahead of the hearing.

Asked if he believed Mercedes gained an unfair advantage he replied: "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."


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Formula 1