Fernando Alonso's world title hopes hang in the balance ahead of today’s World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris.
Alonso faces the prospect of being stripped of his controversial German Grand Prix victory as Ferrari stand accused of using team orders, which are banned in Formula One, to engineer the result.
Should such a punishment be meted out, Alonso would drop be 66 points adrift of current championship leader Lewis Hamilton instead of 41.
Even with 150 points still up for grabs with six races remaining, Alonso's chances of becoming a triple world champion, to add to the titles he won in 2005 and 2006, would be severely damaged.
The smart money, however, is on a fine — in addition to the 100,000 US dollars already paid after the stewards decreed they had broken the rules — and a points penalty for the team rather than the drivers.
That would ensure the team were punished rather than the drivers, who were merely acting upon orders from their Ferrari masters.
That point was emphasised by reigning World champion Jenson Button, who said: “I don't think the drivers will get a penalty.
“If they do get another penalty it will be for the team because it was an order from the team.”
Ferrari's argument will centre on the fact that no explicit order was given to Felipe Massa for him to cede the lead, and eventually the win, to Alonso.
Instead, Massa was simply told twice by engineer Rob Smedley over the pit-to-car radio that Alonso was faster than him, the message being repeated as the Brazilian did not respond to the initial remark.
The inference behind the wording was clear for all to interpret and after Massa slowed down to allow Alonso by, Smedley then said: “Good lad. Just stick with it now. Sorry.”