Mansell comes under attack from Mercedes

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Nigel Mansell, whose marriage with McLaren has had an unhappy beginning, came under attack yesterday from the Formula One team's engine suppliers, Mercedes.

"We need team-mates who can show their willingness to perform," Norbert Haug, the Mercedes sports director, said in Bonn. Haug said Mercedes had kept its side of the bargain and called on the former Formula One champion to do the same. "Mansell must help us to develop a winning car," he said.

Mansell put his future in doubt when he threw in the towel just 18 laps into the Spanish Grand Prix eight days ago, claiming his car was undrivable. He has not been testing with the team since.

Yesterday at a charity function in London both the driver and team chief, Ron Dennis, stonewalled questions about whether Mansell would be racing at the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. "I am not here to talk about Nigel," Dennis said.

However, a McLaren spokeswoman said later that Mansell would be in Monaco. "As far as we are concerned we are still both contracted to each other and will carry on as we are for the moment. We realise there is a lot of work to do but we carry on with the same team," she said.

Mansell signed for McLaren on the eve of the season only to immediately hit the cockpit problems that saw Mark Blundell replace him for the first two races of the season, in Brazil and Argentina.

His car's cockpit was too small, forcing McLaren to invest a further pounds 350,000 in their pounds 50m Formula One challenge by redesigning it to accommodate Mansell's 12-stone frame.

But he struggled to finish 10th in his comeback race in San Marino, and again failed to make an impression in Barcelona, saying he needed a few more races to be competitive.

Blundell, who has been retained by the team, is the obvious candidate to replace Mansell should he decide to leave the team.