Wednesday, 16 December 2015

F1: Ferrari Threatens To Quit Formula 1 Amid Sport’s Moves To Force Rule Changes For 2017

FERRARI have warned they could leave Formula 1 in protest against the new rules expected to be proposed by the sport’s supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, and FIA president Jean Todt.

After Ferrari vetoed proposals to place a cost-cap on customer engines, the World Motor Sport Council have appointed Ecclestone and Todt ‘to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in Formula 1 such as governance, Power Units and cost reduction’ by the end of January.
F1: Ferrari Threatens To Quit Formula 1 Amid Sport’s Moves To Force Rule Changes For 2017
F1: Ferrari Threatens To Quit Formula 1 Amid Sport’s Moves To Force Rule Changes For 2017

But with Ferrari adamantly opposed to the introduction of budget engines, the battle lines appear to have been drawn for an epic power struggle to determine F1’s future direction — with the Scuderia, the sport’s most famous team, warning they are prepared to quit F1 if their concerns aren’t mollified.

“Ferrari would find other ways to express its ability to race and to win,” said president Sergio Marchionne during the team’s annual Christmas media briefing.

“It would be a huge shame [if Ferrari quit F1], but Ferrari cannot be put in a corner on its knees and say nothing.”

Marchionne, whose avuncular appearance defies a reputation for ruthlessness, also revealed that Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault — three of the four existing engine manufacturers in the sport — objected to Ecclestone and Todt being given such a sweeping mandate to dictate F1’s next step.

“We go to the track to prove to ourselves and to everyone our ability to manage the power unit. If we begin to undermine this advantage, Ferrari has no intention of racing,” he continued.

“I understand very well the difficulties that smaller teams face, but this is something that FOM [Formula One Management] has to solve. It is not something Ferrari has to solve.”

For his part, a defiant Ecclestone has shown no sign of backing down by accusing Ferrari and Mercedes of threatening to “destroy” the sport.

“We’re trying to save the sport and these people are trying to save it for their own good,” he complained to the BBC.

According to Ecclestone, Ferrari have already written to the FIA declaring that the governing body had breached its contract with the teams by giving him and Todt a mandate to rewrite the rules.
Marchionne engaging in discussion with Ecclestone at Monza in 2015.Source:Getty Images
Marchionne engaging in discussion with Ecclestone at Monza in 2015.Source:Getty Images
While esoteric to most fans, the escalating war of words in the fight to control the future of F1 is poised to overshadow the build-up to the new 2016 season when, somewhat ironically, it is hoped that Ferrari and Mercedes will put the sport back on track with a head-to-head in a battle for the world championships.

Off track, however, the stage has been set for a contest equally fierce — and difficult to predict.

‘The whole engine saga will run and run these next few months, and in reality it’s just a political football while we have an arm wrestle about who now controls F1. Mercedes and Ferrari have become all powerful with the only decent engines on the grid,’ wrote Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle after last month’s Brazilian GP.

‘Toto Wolff at Mercedes, like his engine, has plenty of horsepower, and is a smart and pragmatic racer but one who also has to report to a more senior board. The man who intrigues me is Sergio Marchionne of Ferrari (and many other organisations). He is a more individually empowered but much less experienced F1 player, who at the same time can be rather brutal I’m told. He’s not going to run away from a fight or be intimidated.

‘Those two against a relatively passive FIA and an ageing Bernie Ecclestone with plenty of other things on his desk to sort out day by day, minute by minute, will be an interesting battle. You still have to get up very early in the morning to outsmart Bernie on an F1 issue.’

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