A key group of Mercedes-Benz shareholders is pushing for the brand to exit Formula One, amid tension surrounding a tyre test with the sport's sole supplier Pirelli.
Autocar reports that the largest group of private shareholders in Mercedes-Benz have called on the German carmaker to leave the sport if the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team is punished as a result of an international tribunal into the tyre test.
The controversial three-day test was carried out by Pirelli, following the Spanish Grand Prix, using the current 2013 Mercedes F1 car. Both Mercedes AMG drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, were involved in the process.
Tyre tests performed by Pirelli in the past have involved older, superseded cars, rather than those currently competing.
The report suggests the recent 'Pirelli-gate' saga has rekindled existing divisiveness among Mercedes-Benz shareholders in regards to the manufacturer’s involvement in the top-level motorsport.
Union Investment manager Michael Muders said, "Mercedes-Benz must get out of F1."
“The company spends hundred of millions here, and it doesn't bring anyone anything," Muders said.
Back in February, Mercedes AMG’s new non-executive chairman – and three-time F1 World Champion – Niki Lauda responded to previous suggestions that the German manufacturer was considering leaving the sport by saying, "Mercedes benefits."
“[There is] no doubt Formula 1 is developing positively," Lauda (pictured below right) told the Bild newspaper.
Head of global communications for Daimler, Jorg Howe, also insisted at the time that Mercedes-Benz’s involvement in F1 was “not up for debate”.
“We have created new structures to ensure long term success and will soon be on top.
"We do not want to pull out of Formula 1. On the contrary."
The international tribunal into the Spanish tyre test takes place in Paris on Thursday.