Dieter Rencken, F1 journalist with RacingNews365.com, has said that the FIA will need to exercise their "full powers" to ensure that Mercedes obey the regulations and show up to the FIA Prize-Giving Gala in Paris on Thursday, as he branded the company's reaction to their title loss as "unsporting".
Following the loss of the F1 Drivers' World Championship, with Lewis Hamilton defeated in controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes' victories in the F1 Constructors' Championship and both driver and team titles in Formula E don't appear to be enough for the German marque as they failed to show up for the FIA Prize-Giving Gala photo-shoot on Tuesday evening.
With time ticking on the deadline for Mercedes to lodge a formal appeal against the outcome of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the FIA Gala essentially marks that deadline of 96 hours from the stewards' verdict at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Gala is set to crown Max Verstappen as the Drivers' Champion, and Mercedes as Constructors' Champions, with both drivers and their respective team bosses required to attend.
Given the radio silence from Mercedes, with all personnel from the team not talking to the media since the chequered flag, aside from a cursory but dignified TV interview from Hamilton before the podium, Rencken feels the behaviour of the team is remarkable.
"I think it goes beyond being unsportsmanlike," he said on the RacingNews365.com F1 Podcast.
"The most telling thing is that there has not been a single comment, not one word from Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius who, ultimately when I say, is Toto's [Wolff] boss, the share structure is a bit more complicated than that, but there is the three-pointed star in the front of the car.
"It is entered as a Mercedes, and the CEO of Mercedes, Ola Kallenius, was in Abu Dhabi, and he has not said a word. He hasn't condemned the FIA, hasn't praised the champion, not a single word. I find that absolutely strange.
"Regarding the behaviour of Lewis, it's all very well to go and congratulate somebody on the podium and do the odd TV interview on track. But ultimately, the hard questions get asked by the media and he was not there. Now, that is a breach of the sporting regulations.
"It's in the Sporting Regulations that they need to be there [at the FIA Gala] and also to attend the media conference. Ultimately, I believe the FIA should exercise their full powers under the Sporting Regulations."
Could an internal struggle be happening at Mercedes?
Rencken went on to explain that, due to the equal ownership of the Mercedes F1 team between Wolff, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Mercedes' parent company, Daimler, there could be an internal fight going on about how to proceed.
When asked whether this has come about as a result of Wolff having never lost a title in the hybrid era since becoming Mercedes team boss, Rencken said it's entirely possible.
"Possibly, yes. He hasn't. Maybe he doesn't know how to lose but, ultimately, that is no excuse," Rencken commented.
"We are talking about what is supposed to be a global elite sport, and one should behave accordingly. Whichever way we slice it, ultimately, I'm very, very disappointed in Mercedes' behaviour.
"Mercedes own one-third of the team, Toto one-third, and INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe the other third. Now, ultimately, Mercedes need to look at this and say, 'Hey, is our name possibly being tarnished'?
"I stress the words 'possibly being tarnished' by the behaviour of one or two of the other shareholders."
With no word from Mercedes on whether to proceed with an appeal, Rencken said it's all still very up in the air.
"It could be dismissed within five minutes, it may require additional investigation, who knows?" he pointed out.
"The point is that the Sporting Regulations specify, very clearly, that the recipient of the trophy during the FIA Gala Prize-Giving is the champion, full stop, then it's too late to change it.
"Now, the timing is very, very unfortunate in all directions for everybody, whether you're an appellant or whether you're the champion, or whatever, because this thing happened on Sunday
"The Prize-Giving Gala is on Thursday evening, almost to the hour, exactly 96 hours after Mercedes registered their intention to appeal. And so there's a trophy waiting to be handed to somebody, and yet we have this process in the interim.
"Mercedes could withdraw their appeal now, they could do it on Thursday morning. They may not do it at all. And then a date has got to be set. It really creates a major conundrum and everybody's playing for very, very high stakes."
Listen to the full episode of the RacingNews365.com F1 Podcast below!
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