Having threatened to 'consider its engagement' in Formula 1 should the FIA mete out what it deems to be an 'unreasonable punishment' to McLaren in today's FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing into the Melbourne 'lies' scandal in Paris, Mercedes-Benz has now qualified its assertion by admitting that a sudden withdrawal 'wouldn't save [the company] a cent'.

With the automotive industry in turmoil and having seemingly been hit hardest of all by the global credit crunch in recent months, Mercedes has suffered like all of its rivals, with parent company Daimler posting a EUR1.29 billion loss in the first quarter of 2009 alone - compared to a EUR1.33 billion profit in the same period twelve months earlier.

Such economic uncertainty has caused all F1 manufacturers to re-assess their presence in what is the most glamorous and as such most expensive sport in the world, and Daimler union leader Helmut Lense hinted prior to the weekend that the Stuttgart marque would be wise to consider a pull-out because employees are unhappy at such inordinate sums of money being spent on supplying McLaren, Brawn GP and Force India with engines when many of their colleagues are facing redundancy in order to bankroll the continued involvement [see separate story - click here].

Whilst underlining that the three-pointed star has 'no sacred cows', Daimler's chief financial officer Bodo Uebber nonetheless has sought to quell speculation by insisting that if there is eventually to be a withdrawal, it will not be for a while yet.

"We look into our Formula 1 commitment every year," he is quoted as having said by The Associated Press, "but even if we dropped out of Formula 1 now, we wouldn't be saving a cent because the contracts are long-term."

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