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Marchionne threatens Ferrari F1 exit

NEWS STORY
02/11/2017

Even before Chase Carey and Ross Brawn have revealed their blueprint for the sport's future, as expected, the sabre rattling from the manufacturers and teams has begun.

First to make clear its intentions is Ferrari, with company president Sergio Marchionne insisting that any threat to its income or competitiveness under the new proposals would see the legendary manufacturer reconsider its future in the sport.

As it seeks to realise greater profits from the sport, new owner Liberty Media is seeking to improve the show. Along with more races, more pay-per-view, streaming and various other revenue streams, the sport is looking to improve the racing not only with new engine and technical rules, but introducing a budget cap intended to level the playing field.

However, as it seeks to ensure all the teams receive a similar income from the sport, the prize money for the bigger teams would be reduced while bonuses agreed under Bernie Ecclestone would be scrapped. Earlier this week it was revealed that the big four teams could lose as much as 155m between them.

Naturally, this hasn't gone down well with Marchionne, who has clearly signalled his and his team's intentions before even hearing Liberty's plans.

"Liberty has a couple of good intentions in all of this," he said during a conference call with investors, "one of which is to reduce the cost of execution of the team which I think is good.

"There are a couple of things we don't necessarily agree with," he continued. "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.

"I understand that Liberty may have taken this 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.

"And that's got a whole lot of implications," he warned, "apart from the cost relief from the structure of Ferrari, which is not inconsequential. But it does open up a whole lot of alternatives about what Ferrari could be doing with itself going forward and beyond that date.

"I don't want to prejudge any of this," he insisted. "We're walking into this meeting next Tuesday with the best of intentions, we'll see where it takes us."

Over the years Ferrari has threatened to quit the sport on numerous occasions, and was even a leading light in the proposed breakaway series a few years back, before jumping ship and agreeing new terms with Ecclestone.

However, asked how he would feel were he to be the man who took Ferrari out of the sport, Marchionne said: "Like a million bucks, because I'd be working on an alternative strategy to try and replace it. A more rational one, too.

"I'm attending this meeting on strategy because it's important and it matters a lot to this business," he added. "The financial implications of the wrong choice for the moment going forward are pretty significant to Ferrari."

Indeed, Marchionne went so far as to suggest that quitting F1 might actually benefit the company's shareholders.

"It would be totally beneficial to the P&L," he said, referring to profits and losses. "We would be celebrating here until the cows come home."

"F1 has been part of our DNA since the day we were born," he admitted. "It's not as though we can define ourselves differently. But if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognisable sandbox, I don't want to play any more. I don't want to play NASCAR globally, I just don't."

Like its rivals, Ferrari is committed to the sport until the end of the 2020 season when the current Concorde Agreement comes to an end. Indeed, 2020 also sees Ferrari's controversial right of veto come to an end.

In the months and years leading up to then, Ferrari won't be the only team to make such a threat, though it remains to be seen who might be first to execute it.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 03/11/2017 21:40

"I don't think Marchionne would be saying what he has if Ferrari had won the 2017 championships. It will be 10 years soon since Raikonnen won the drivers championship.
Time to follow the money.
Liberty Media are getting squeezed by the other teams off to the Euro Court of whatever it is regarding the historical bonus. Whispers of Ferrari loosing income will be the reason for the statement, not engine regulations.
I agree with other contributors that Ferrari need F1 as much as F1 needs Ferrari.
I'm not a Ferrari fan though I do "get" what the brand means to the casual observer as well as the promoter.
This year there has not been regular Ferrari in the Australian GT Championships and I think it does make a difference to the show. Even when they are not performing, they sound and look good and the name is recognisable.
Maybe it will be good that Ferrari leave F1 (they won't) and go full force Audi in GT racing? A great way to showcase their cars against others in their market (Merc, Lambo, McLaren, Audi, Porsche, Aston... Ford) as well as build on the brand."

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2. Posted by Yeyox02, 03/11/2017 20:38

"I want to see if this bunch of words will become into facts. Perhaps LM does not care about what Marchionne said because they only threw the hook to see the reactions."

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3. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 03/11/2017 18:09

"If push comes to shove, they need to have their bluff called. For too long, they have enjoyed preferential treatment. "

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4. Posted by rup, 03/11/2017 16:31 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 03/11/2017 17:20)

"Ferrari, McLaren & Williams...

why not the Enstone team?

Been running 4 years less than Williams, (Potentially libellous content removed - Editor) against ALL odds, they have won 4 championships. Why are they not in this "special' list?

Then we have ferrari.. they threaten for the 50th time to quit?

The old man used to build cars for other formulas as part of his threats to leave..

Well I say.. Bye, nice to have known yah!

There has to be an end to the 'special' treatment, no more extra money, no more blind eyes, no more ferrari rules, level playing field or p*ss off..

This whole romantic 1950/60's stuff has no relevance now, nobody under the age of 40 gives a toss, my son likes whoever wins, used to be Red Bull, Now Merc, If Ferrari wins, Ferrari.. He doesn't care about the history, Ascari, Fangio who?

Lets move the sport on before it dies of old age..

Give everyone a fair crack off the whip and slice of the cake and let the best team and driver win..

CALL THEIR BLUFF ASAP!!!"

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5. Posted by imejl99, 03/11/2017 13:41 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 03/11/2017 17:20)

"Ferrari, McLaren & Williams.
Others come and go, more or less successful, for longer or shorter time.

There once were Lotus, Brabham, Benetton, Jordan, BMW, Ligier, Toyota... Renault was on and off... now there are Haas, Red Bull, Toro, Mercedes, Force India...

With all due respect for competing teams, it would be arguably absurd to call it "F1" without any of those 3.

So, Marchionne has a leverage. Not that it is fair, I am not saying that. It is just fact."

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6. Posted by mickl, 03/11/2017 11:50

"YAWN"

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7. Posted by alfsboy, 03/11/2017 10:25

"I think Ferrari should do Formula E ....but with a 5 litre V12 in the back instead of a hoover motor ."

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8. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 03/11/2017 10:02

"Could he be hinting at a full blown move to WEC (LMP1) would again be far more relevent than F1.

A budget cap is never going to work, they all just need to agree a better way of sharing the funds, how are you going to tell the top teams to lay off 500-600 staff?



"

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9. Posted by Pawsche, 03/11/2017 9:43 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 03/11/2017 17:20)

""It's deja vu all over again"... :-)"

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10. Posted by Chris Roper, 03/11/2017 7:26

"I think that Ferrari needs F1 more than F1 needs Ferrari, but I do agree with the sentiment 'I don't want to play NASCAR globally, I just don't.' That is the American mentality and a Marketing mans dream but F1 is largely European and driven by tradition not marketing."

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11. Posted by Barslug, 03/11/2017 6:42

"Ferrari has had the balance of power and money in their court for far too long. The old saying that F1 stands for Ferrari first is too accurate. Let's level the playing field and see if Ferrari is as good as they think they are."

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12. Posted by sunny, 03/11/2017 4:04

"the number one objective of the new commercial rights owners is maximizing their profits and that is the thing that is driving them forward and not their desire they are trying to push out."

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13. Posted by Joop deBruin, 03/11/2017 3:46

"Formula E, little boys with their RC cars...."

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14. Posted by TedS, 02/11/2017 22:10

"Don't let the door hit ya on the way out"

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15. Posted by Anthony, 02/11/2017 22:01

"At some stage Ferrari will have a hybrid/electric supercar. It may not be before the battery technology is sorted out, but that will be in the very near future. At that point they will join the others in Formula e. OK it isn't currently F1 but Liberty will dumb down F1 so much that many traditional fans will shift from F1 to Formula e."

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