Mercedes-Benz remains as committed to its Formula 1 future as it can be amid the current worldwide economic difficulties, claims its motorsport boss Norbert Haug.
There has been widespread speculation in German media this week that Mercedes-Benz could withdraw from F1 if McLaren is punished heavily in next week's FIA World Motor Sport Council. However, Haug says that he has had assurances from his chiefs in Stuttgart that the company has every intention of remaining in the sport.
He does concede, though, that the current financial problems being faced by car manufacturers worldwide means there is no guarantee of the situation remaining unchanged indefinitely.
"Some people have suggested that Mercedes are pulling out of F1. No, Mercedes is not pulling out," Haug told AUTOSPORT in the paddock at the Bahrain Grand Prix. "Of course, everybody who is honest is considering the situation, and that is it. We have confirmation, and I am happy about that, for our activities – but do we have that indefinitely until whenever.
"I cannot say what is happening in the car industry in the next two, three, four or six months – whether the climate gets better. But if you sell more cars, then certainly you are in a better situation."
Haug believes that the bigger issue for Mercedes-Benz is not the fallout from the McLaren lying controversy, but where F1's rules go in the next few years – especially with the possibility of a budget cap being introduced.
"Currently, it is absolutely business as usual," added Haug. "The interpretation of the media is that if you have an FIA hearing – then they say that the future is in doubt. But the general view, and one that we need to all be aware of, is the general economic situation with the automobile industry, and especially the banks, makes it tough at the moment.
"When I have been asked to guarantee that we will be here for five years, then it is not possible. But, the bigger picture is that if we can find a set of rules, be it limits or a budget cap, something that is feasible, then that will help.
"It needs FOTA and the FIA to cooperate and come together in the middle – and this is a serious situation. There is no room for manoeuvring and playing games. Instead of discussing diffusers, KERS in or KERS out, all the stakeholders need to think about the bigger picture. Behind closed doors we are working on that, but that is the fundamental issue."