Ferrari warn they could quit F1 as Liberty Media reveal blueprint for future
Marchionne says Ferrari "don't want to play anymore" if F1 becomes "unrecognisable"; Scuderia president insists team could cope without the sport; Mercedes also criticise new engine proposals
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 16/11/17 11:44am
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has warned that Formula 1's most iconic team are "at odds" with Liberty Media's engine proposals and could quit the sport after 2020 if it is not happy with their plans for the future.
F1's owners revealed their engine blueprint for 2021 earlier this week but their initial outlines, which include removing the MGU-H, have already been met with scepticism by manufacturers - and Ferrari are the first team to have threatened to stop racing entirely.
Marchionne, speaking in a conference call with analysts to discuss Ferrari's latest financial results, said that while he agreed with cutting costs, he was not happy with the direction Liberty Media were taking F1.
"It (F1) has been part of our DNA since the day we were born," he said, via Reuters.
"But if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognizable sandbox, I don't want to play anymore."
It is by no means the first time Ferrari, the only team to have competed in every F1 season since its inauguration in 1950, have hinted at leaving the sport over changing regulations, though Marchionne hasn't issued such a quit threat in some time.
And asked how he would feel about being the chairman who led Ferrari out of the sport, he replied: "Like a million bucks because I'll be working on an alternative strategy to try and replace it. More rational one, too."
Not only are Ferrari F1's most historic team and a source of Italian pride, but they are also the sport's most successful outfit with 16 Constructors' Championships and 15 drivers' titles, and their current revenue share reflects that status.
However, the Scuderia are approaching 10 years without a trophy after an improved but ultimately disappointing 2017 season, and are currently only signed up to compete until the end of 2020.
Liberty Media, meanwhile, who took charge of F1 in January, have set their sights on leveling the playing field both on-track and off-track and their engine plans include cheaper, louder and simpler power units.
"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," Marchionne, in charge of the Maranello outfit since 2014, added.
"But the fact is that we now appear to be at odds in terms of the strategic development, and we see the sport in 2021 taking on a different air. It is going to force some decisions on the part of Ferrari.
"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."
However, ahead of next Tuesday's Strategy Meeting in Geneva, when the sport's future direction and structure will be further debated, Marchionne added: "I don't want to prejudge any of this. We're walking into this meeting next Tuesday with the best of intentions. We'll see where it takes us.
"The financial implications of the wrong choice for the moment going forward are pretty significant to Ferrari."
Post-2020 engine plans were revealed at a summit in Paris attended by the sport's governing body, the FIA, F1's owners, Liberty Media, and 'current and potential Formula One manufacturers'.
And Ferrari aren't alone when it comes to voicing their displeasure over F1's decision-makers' plans for the the future.
Toto Wolff, team principal of the sport's four-time champions and Ferrari's greatest rivals Mercedes, told Auto Motor und Sport: "Certain things are right, but it's not quite there. It is a vision and not yet a regulation. And it's only their [FIA and FOM] vision and not the manufacturer's.
"It is important to define all together what Formula 1 should be in 2021, not just from the point of view of the engine. What we have is the starting point of a dialogue rather than something we have agreed to."
F1's 2021 engine plans at a glance
- The 2021 power unit to be a 1.6 Litre, V6 Turbo Hybrid
- 3000rpm higher engine running speed range to improve the sound
- Prescriptive internal design parameters to restrict development costs and discourage extreme designs and running conditions
- Removal of the MGU-H
- More powerful MGU-K with focus on manual driver deployment in race together with option to save up energy over several laps to give a driver controlled tactical element to racing
- Single turbo with dimensional constraints and weight limits
- Standard energy store and control electronics
- High Level of external prescriptive design to give 'Plug-And-Play' engine/chassis/transmission swap capability
- Intention to investigate tighter fuel regulations and limits on number of fuels used
"The concept sounds similar to what we have now," Wolff added. "But it means a completely new development that will mean we are working on two engines at the same time between 2018 and 2020.
"I just want to make it clear that there are different opinions. It was a presentation by the F1 management, not the manufacturer. We will now wait and see what will be put on the table next week and start a dialogue from there."