Ferrari, the company that has participated in every single Formula One championship since itsÂ inaugural season in 1950, is threatening to give up the sport if U.S.-based Liberty Media follows through with its new engine rules. Depending on how you like your motorsport, Ferrari is either completely vindicated in its criticisms or overacting like a spoiled child.
Evolving rules are nothing new in Formula One. Changes are often made between seasons to bolster safety or improve competitiveness. But Ferrari NV isn’t interested in what’s to come after F1’sÂ concorde agreement ends in 2020.Â Liberty Media has been pushing for engine rules that would make powerplants noisier and higher revving but also more uniform between teams. With a focus on a cheaper and simpler engine, F1’s new owner is also expected to suggestÂ revenue caps on teams next week.Â The end result should be closer races. But that places it at odds with the Italian manufacturer’s goals of winning all the time.Â
Formula One also runs the risk of losing some engineering prowess. Aggressively capping development budgets and further standardizing powerplants would make it more like NASCAR, and Ferrari isn’t alone in being opposed to that.Â Mercedes and Renault have also voiced concerns on the matter, but it is Ferrari’s own sweater-wearing CEOÂ Sergio Marchionne leading the opposition.
While less upset with the idea of budgetary caps, he expressed major concerns over the potential loss of powertrain “uniqueness” duringÂ Thursday’s third-quarter conference call.
“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,”Â Marchionne explained. “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,” he continued. “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.”
That’s pretty concrete sounding. Currently, Ferrari is so wrapped up in Formula One (andÂ vice versa) that it would be difficult to imagine the sport without it. We will have to see how Liberty Media takes the news and if it changes its tune during next week’s conference. Otherwise, Ferrari might be absent from the 2021 season.
“I don’t want to prejudge any of this,”Â Marchionne said. “We’re walking into this meeting next Tuesday with the best of intentions. We’ll see where it takes us.”
[Source: Bloomberg] [Image: Ferrari NV]