Ferrari’s latest Formula 1 quit threat indicates that it is pulling no punches, but how should F1 deal with the Scuderia?
At Ferrari’s pre-Christmas lunch, Sergio Marchionne repeated his earlier threats to pull the Scuderia out of Formula 1 if Liberty could not offer an attractive post-2020 vision of the sport that accords with Ferrari’s.
The boss, of by far the biggest brand in the motor sport, with the longest continuous heritage within it, specifically maintains:
- He is not bluffing. Previous Ferrari bosses may have bluffed, but things have changed since he arrived.
- Ferrari is free to evaluate competing outside of F1, even during its current contract with F1.
- Ferrari will not countenance the level of simplification of the engine technology being proposed by Liberty.
- He is prepared to consider a rival championship and believes Ferrari would probably have the power to bring other teams with it if it chose to do so.
- Ross Brawn is pursuing a vision that lacks the DNA of F1, a vision that Marchionne believes is “bullshit.”
Ross Brawn and Liberty are deliberately avoiding a confrontational attitude and reiterate that they are happy to negotiate with all the teams to reach a broad agreement.
Essentially, although Marchionne spoke only about the proposed engine formula – current V6 turbos without ersH and many more standardised parts to allow independent engine manufacturers a chance of being competitive – it is also about the commercial agreement going forwards.
Currently, Ferrari is paid more than $100 million over and above the conventional results-based payments and takes around one-fifth of the total ‘pot’ divided among all the teams. With Liberty attempting to drive costs down for the future, it hopes to negotiate appropriately lower team payments.
Marchionne’s statements, therefore, might be read as an opening negotiating stance. Or as a real declaration of intent.