Ferrari has threatened to pull out of Formula 1 racing if Liberty Media’s plans for 2021 continue in the same direction it is headed.
Last Tuesday, F1 and FIA revealed the new engine rules proposed for 2021. The following day Mercedes and Renault expressed their reservation about the new rules. They suggested the new rules will create unnecessary arm races that will damage the sport. Joining the disgruntled group, Ferrari said they will quit the sport if they are not happy with the new changes.
Talking on an earnings call with analysts, President Sergio Marchionne said he is not happy with the direction the new engine regulations are taking under Liberty Media’s watch. He clarified that if F1 does not create a platform that adds value to Ferrari’s brand and its marketplace, then the team ‘will not play’.
Marchionne said: “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
“There are a couple of things we don’t necessarily agree with. One of which 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 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.”
As per the bilateral agreements signed in 2013 between FIA, F1 and Ferrari, the team is under obligation to stay in the sport until 2020.
Ferrari’s future in F1 beyond 2021 is yet to be decided.
Another meeting of the Strategic group is scheduled for this Tuesday. Liberty Media is expected to reveal more details of how it plans to level the playing field in F1 by imposing budget caps, using standardised parts, a change in governance structure, etc.
Marchionne added: “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.”
Ferrari has been threatening to quit F1 for a long time. But this is the first time the team is saying so in the Marchionne era.
Marchionne said quitting F1 would be a financially great move for the company and that the shareholders would love it as it improves their balance sheet.
“It would be totally beneficial to the P&L [profits and losses],” he said. “We would be celebrating here until the cows come home.”
He added: “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 unrecognisable sandbox, I don’t want to play anymore. I don’t want to play NASCAR globally, I just don’t.”
How would he feel if he is remembered as the guy who took Ferrari out of F1, Marchionne said: “Like a million bucks, because I’d be working on an alternative strategy to try and replace it. A more rational one, too.”