F1’s powerbrokers are locked in an ever-intensifying battle over the sport’s financial and technical futures, but retaining iconic marque Ferrari remains the key to an eventual resolution.
The Scuderia has significant clout – not only as the sole squad to have competed in every F1 World Championship Grand Prix since 1950. But, also as the most successful, with 16 constructors’ titles…and as a power unit supplier to two other teams, Haas and Sauber.
…making it, along with the Monaco Grand Prix, a cornerstone of the sport – one that former supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, used to divide and conquer F1 over many years, always locking in the Scuderia first.
But, Ferrari continues to rail against proposed changes for 2021 by Liberty Media – aimed at a more level playing field, with historic financial advantages to be slashed, the introduction of a reported $150 million US dollar budget cap, more standardised parts and a simplified power unit minus the MGU-H.
"If F1 becomes more of a spectacle than a sport, if we go in the direction of NASCAR races, then Ferrari will leave," said chairman Sergio Marchionne.
Marchionne’s threats are mostly seen as hollow, though, with the company relying on F1 for its advertising, and other categories unable to provide the same level of worldwide exposure.
…with Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle putting the situation in perspective, as to the Prancing Horse’s alternatives.
“Where would Ferrari go?” he asked. “Go and get their backsides handed to them on a plate by Mahindra in Formula E? They are already in Le Mans, they won the GT world championship. Nobody knows about that.”
There’s no doubt that Ferrari exists to race, with Prancing Horse founder Enzo Ferrari originally building and selling cars to fund his race team. His son Piero Ferrari equally passionate about the brand’s racing spirit.
SOUNDBITE (Italian) PIERO FERRARI:
VICE CHAIRMAN, FERRARI:
"Ferrari believes in competition and Ferrari wouldn't exist without car races. I hope that I don't live to see the day that GT cars can be sold without motor racing."
But with the FIA hoping to finalise the 2021 engine regulations by the end of May, keeping Ferrari on-side will be a key focus – though with its long list of advantages on the line, getting its blessing will be tough.