As McLaren mechanics put the finishing touches on the Bahrain pit garage, speculation ramped up in Germany about the future of engine partner Mercedes-Benz.

As McLaren mechanics put the finishing touches on the Bahrain pit garage, speculation ramped up in Germany about the future of engine partner Mercedes-Benz.

Helmut Lense, on the supervisory board of the Stuttgart marque's parent Daimler, openly admitted to Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper that the formula one engagement is very much in doubt.

Mercedes is suffering amid the auto industry slump and the global recession, leading Lense to muse that the McLaren money might be better spent.

Key to the speculation is that Mercedes-Benz might prefer to remain in F1 merely as an engine supplier.

"Daimler has the goal to be prominent with 'green technology'. Does formula one fit? Would it be the right signal to step out of F1 now and instead concentrate on pollution-free propulsion technologies?" Lense mused.

Mercedes owns 40 per cent of Woking based McLaren.

Worsening McLaren's woes is the looming World Motor Sport Council meeting, where penalties for fraud may result from the 'lie-gate' affair.

A source with one of the team's big sponsors told the Telegraph: "I can say that if a disproportionately large penalty were given to McLaren on April 29 then the sponsor that I am associated with might leave."

 

Be part of something big