Ferrari to quit F1 after 2020?

Chairman says situation is likely if they don't approve of direction taken by Liberty Media

LONDON • Ferrari have threatened to quit Formula One after 2020 if the sport's new owners take it in a direction contrary to the Italian sportscar maker's interests.

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne told analysts on a conference call that while he supported cost-cutting, there were other strategic issues under discussion that could force F1's most successful team to consider racing elsewhere.

"It (Formula One) has been part of our DNA since the day we were born," he said on Thursday.

"But if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognisable sandbox, I don't want to play any more."

Asked how he would feel about being the chief executive who led Ferrari away from F1, he replied: "Like a million bucks because I'll be working on an alternative strategy to try and replace it. More rational one, too."

Ferrari are the only team to have been in Formula One since the first world championship season in 1950 and are the most glamorous, even if they have not won a championship since 2008. They have accumulated a record 228 race wins, 16 constructors' championships and 15 drivers' titles.

It has long been accepted in F1 that the Monaco Grand Prix and Ferrari are the two central pillars of the sport's success, and their current share of the revenues reflects that special status. Ferrari earned US$180 million (S$244.8 million) this year - the most of all the teams - despite finishing third in last year's constructors' championship.

ON THE SAME TRACK

Unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand in the marketplace and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.

SERGIO MARCHIONNE, Ferrari chairman, on how Liberty Media's plans must align with his team's vision.

F1 has been under new ownership since January, with US-based Liberty Media taking over the commercial rights and ousting the former supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Liberty wants to level the playing field and rebalance revenues once the current agreement with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Proposals for a new, cheaper and simpler engine were presented in Paris on Tuesday and there is another meeting of the sport's Strategy Group next Tuesday to discuss other changes.

"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," said Marchionne.

But he said Ferrari, celebrating the company's 70th anniversary this year, and Liberty appeared to be "somewhat at odds in terms of the strategic development" after 2020.

"I think you need to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand in the marketplace and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play," he said.

He added that he would not pre-judge anything.

"We're walking into this meeting next Tuesday with the best of intentions, we'll see where it takes us," he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2017, with the headline 'Ferrari to quit F1 after 2020?'. Print Edition | Subscribe