Ferrari threatens to quit F1... again


The titles might be a distant memory, the dominance a fading dream, but if there is one constant in Ferrari's long history in Formula One, it is the Italian marque's endless threats to quit should things not go its way.

At a time the sport is, according to Ross Brawn, facing "collapse", and the future of a number of teams in serious doubt, Ferrari is once again throwing its toys out of the prime, this time over the pending budget cap.

Though the Maranello-based outfit is fully aware that the sport as it is is not sustainable and spending has to be curbed - and that was before the coronavirus pandemic - it insists that a 'one size fits all' budget cap is neither fair nor workable.

Like Red Bull, Ferrari believes there should be a two-tier cap, one for the bigger teams as they often develop components for their rivals, and another for the smaller teams.

Using that old chestnut, the sport's DNA, Mattia Binotto has warned that if F1 persists with the current plan of imposing an across the board cap, and especially if it gives in to the likes of McLaren and reduces it to $100m - having initially planned a $175m cap - the Italian team will have to consider its future in the sport.

"The $145m level is already a new and demanding request compared to what was set out last June," he tells the Guardian. "It cannot be attained without further significant sacrifices, especially in terms of our human resources.

"If it was to get even lower, we would not want to be put in a position of having to look at other further options for deploying our racing DNA.

"In F1, we have all sorts of teams with different characteristics," he continued. "They operate in different countries, under different legislation and with their own ways of working. Therefore it is not simple and straightforward to make structural changes simply by cutting costs in a linear fashion.

"We are well aware that F1 and indeed the whole world right now is going through a particularly difficult time because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this is not the time to react in a hurry as there's a risk of making decisions on the back of this emergency without clearly evaluating all the consequences.

"F1 has to be the pinnacle of motor sport in terms of technology and performance," he insists. "It must be attractive for the car manufacturers and the sponsors who want to be linked to this most prestigious category. If we restrict costs excessively then we run the risk of reducing the level considerably, bringing it ever closer to the lower formulae.

At a time it has been revealed that in the UK alone, the cap could lead to almost 1,600 lost jobs, Binotto says Ferrari has an "ethical duty" to avoid significant job losses. "One should not forget that companies play a role in the social fabric of a nation," he says. "They are not just there to make a profit."

Despite Ferrari's fears over the sport's DNA however, Binotto is supportive of Christian Horner's proposal that the likes of the Italian team, Red Bull and Mercedes - which has been uncharacteristically quiet of late - should supply customer cars to its smaller rivals.

"If the current emergency really put the existence of some of our competitors in this sport in doubt and made it necessary to revise certain cornerstones, then Ferrari would be open to it," he says. "It's not even sacrilegious, given it's happened before in F1 and happens today in series such as MotoGP."

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Published: 23/04/2020
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