Ferrari unhappy with proposed Formula 1 vision, quit threat issued
The Italian manufacturer drops a hard ball on the new Formula 1 owners.
Ever since the Liberty Media stepped into Formula 1 as its new owners, they have been looked with the view that overall reforms will be made, which will ease the survival of budgeted teams together with the big shots and bring the competition more closer.
With the current agreement between the teams/manufacturers, the FIA and FOM coming to an end in 2020, the immediate task for Liberty Media is to lay out rules which will push all the existing teams to re-sign for the given amount of years.
However, the 'quit' threat has already been casted by F1's oldest manufacturer, Ferrari. The Italian giant's president Sergio Marchionne in an conference call on Thursday made his intentions clear, ahead of a crunch meeting next Tuesday.
"The fact that we now appear to be at odds in terms of the strategic development of this [new agreement] thing, and we see the sport in 2021 taking on a different air, is going to force some decisions on the part of Ferrari," he said. "I don’t want to prejudge any of this.
"We’re walking into this meeting next Tuesday with the best of intentions, we’ll see where it takes us. What I do know is that it is 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. I don’t want to play NASCAR globally, I just don’t.
"Liberty has got a couple of good intentions in all of this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution of the team which I think is good. [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. I understand that Liberty may have taken this 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.
"And that’s got a whole lot of implications, apart from the cost relief from the structure of Ferrari, which is not inconsequential. But it does open up a whole lot of alternatives about what Ferrari could be doing with itself going forward and beyond that date ," he explained.
Marchionne added that leaving F1 will actually help its company's 'profit and loss'. But for F1, it could be a bigger jolt, since Ferrari has been the oldest manufacturer in the sport, which is why it receives a special bonus to be part of the grid.
However, the recent talks of a balanced field in terms of budget - to bring private teams into play - it will mean teams like Ferrari may have to compromise - which the Italian manufacturer may not necessarily want to.
If Ferrari does pulls a plug, Marchionne will be the CEO who takes out the car manufacturer from the sport after a long-standing association. When asked how he feels about that, he said: “Like a million bucks, because I’d be working on an alternative strategy to try and replace it. A more rational one, too.
"I’m attending this meeting on strategy because it’s important and it matters a lot to this business. The financial implications of the wrong choice for the moment going forward are pretty significant to Ferrari," he said.
Marchionne's comments comes after the FIA released a blueprint of the power unit regulations which will come into place from 2021 season, which will see the 1.6L V6 Hybrid unit remain in the sport - with few additions and subtractions on the engine.
While Honda hasn't spoken into the matter, Mercedes and Renault have jointly come against the proposals - stating that the ideas will only increase the cost of the power units, rather than have an adverse affect.