Ferrari warn of pullout if racing becomes like a 'spectacle'

ROME • Ferrari warned on Friday that they would not hesitate to pull the plug on Formula One if the world championship became more like Nascar, insisting they cherish sport, and not the "spectacle".

"If F1 becomes more of a spectacle than a sport, if we go in the direction of Nascar races (in the United States), then Ferrari will leave," Ferrari chief executive Sergio Marchionne told a shareholders' meeting in Amsterdam.

He was quoted by the Italian media as saying: "If there are any proposals that distort F1, I think Ferrari will pull out... we are working with (F1 owners) Liberty Media to find acceptable solutions."

Last week on the sidelines of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Liberty set out a five-point blueprint for the future of the sport - control of budgets and revenues, a new structure for governance, sporting and technical rules, engines, and overall costs.

The budget cap of around US$150 million (S$196.8 million), which may cause Ferrari to consider their commitment to the sport, is due to be introduced as part of the package from 2021.

"We had a proposal from Liberty 10 days ago, we expect to know the details and then we will make choices in the interests of Ferrari," Marchionne said on Friday."

"We could look for alternative solutions, it's not a threat, but it does not mean we stop shopping," he added, referring to "limited interest" in the Formula E series.

"Some people want a less technological approach, but we and (world champions) Mercedes have the will to maintain a high standard."

When the Liberty plan was put to team owners in Bahrain, Williams boss Claire Williams declared her delight, saying she felt it was "time to crack open the champagne" for a plan which also aims for a fairer distribution of income from top to bottom of the grid.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff concurred with Williams' assessment that the plan was promising.

"I am taking a positive view because now we know what Liberty's vision for the future is - and it is a good starting point," he said.

The Austrian added that Mercedes' budget was "more around US$250 million" and a compromise was needed.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said he hoped to see the plan finalised within "a couple of months".

"The bottom line is this is going to have a much bigger effect on three or four teams running at the front of the grid," he said. "The guys from P4 (fourth) downwards are potentially going to get a lot of upside. So you should see some fairly happy faces down that end of the paddock."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 15, 2018, with the headline 'Ferrari warn of pullout if racing becomes like a 'spectacle''. Print Edition | Subscribe