Mercedes was famously not happy with Liberty Media's first proposed 2021 engine regulations. Ferrari has echoed Mercedes' concerns and then took their stance beyond 11. Ferrari is so displeased with the proposed regulations that they have threatened to quit F1 entirely.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne spoke strongly on a conference call regarding the future regulations. "Liberty has got a couple of good intentions in all of this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution for the team, which I think is good," Marchionne said. "But there are a couple of things we don't necessarily agree with. "
"One is the fact that somehow powertrain uniqueness is not going to be one of the drivers of distinctiveness of the participants line-up. I would not countenance this going forward. "
The key there is "drivers of distinctiveness" it appears Ferrari believes the new regulations are more of a spec format. Leaving manufacturers less room to innovate as is the Forumla 1 way. Liberty doesn't see it that way, Formula 1's managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches responded, "We don't want to homogenize this sport. We want to create a degree off boundaries in which the teams can play and innovate, and those that are more proficient in exploiting the formula will do better. "
"But we're not trying to get this to a circumstance where everybody has to have the same engine or the same livery. That's not where we're going, but we just want to bring the back of the grid up to the front of the grid a little closer." Bratches told RACER.com.
Marchionne sees things differently. "The fact that we now appear to be at odds in terms of the strategic development of this thing, and we see the sport in 2021 taking on a different air, is going to force some decisions on the part of Ferrari. I understand that Liberty may have taken these into account in coming up with their views, but I think it needs to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play."
"Ferrari will not play." Translation, we are Ferrari, we always get what we want, if you don't capitulate we will take our ball and go home. Ferrari's very DNA is linked to Formula 1. Enzo started making road cars for the sole purpose of financing his racing programs. Ferrari is Formula 1's most successful team and in many ways F1 is Ferrari and vice-versa.
This is not the first time Ferrari has threatened to quit the sport. Silverstone famously hosted the first ever Formula 1 race in 1950. Naturally Ferrari was there, but they didn't start the race thanks to a dispute with the organizers over "start money". In 1987 Ferrari threatened to leave F1 in favor of IndyCar unless F1 changed the rule banning V12 engines.
There are more examples, Ferrari's rite to veto is one, but the point of the matter is it appears at least once a decade Ferrari threatens to leave the sport. Knowing that the history of Ferrari and Formula 1 are intertwined the FIA and Formula 1 usually give in knowing how big of a loss Ferrari's departure would be.
Marchionne seems to "What I do know is that it F1 has been part of our DNA since the day we were born. It's not as though we can define ourselves differently. But if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognizable sandbox, I don't want to play anymore."
Is this a veiled threat to try and get things to swing in Ferrari's favor competitively or is it something more? It is hard to tell, Marchionne has stated he has the best of intentions and plans to work with, not dictate to Liberty regarding future regulations. However, he also stated, Ferrari's departure would be "totally beneficial" from a financial point of view. "We would be celebrating here until the cows come home."
So again is this real or is this Ferrari pulling another typically Ferrari move? Personally I can't see Ferrari leaving F1 and I can't see F1 letting Ferrari go. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship going on there and as much as I can't stand Ferrari sometimes I also can't see F1 without them. I think this time Ferrari is just pumping its chest out because it knows the other manufacturers are on its side. We explored Mercedes' displeasure of the proposed engine regulations last week and frankly Liberty would be a monumental bunch of idiots if they went down a route that would anger the two biggest names in the sport today.
Formula 1's managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches finds him in the unenviable position of either caving to Ferrari or risk the Italians leaving the sport all together.
This is one of those situations where Ferrari is pulling a power move much like they have done in the past. On the one hand you don't want to lose Ferrari, on the other you don't want one team dictating series policy. This is Liberty's first true test and where they decide to go will have enormous ramifications for the sport's short and long term futures.
What do you think? Should Liberty cave? Is Ferrari acting like the spoiled brat who threatens to take their ball and go home every-time they don't get their way? Could Formula 1 survive without Ferrari? Let us know in the comments below!