Ferrari could quit Formula One after 2020 if the sport’s new owners take it in a direction contrary to the Italian sportscar maker’s interests, chairman Sergio Marchionne said on Thursday.
Marchionne told analysts on a conference call that while he supported cost-cutting, there were other strategic issues under discussion that could force Ferrari to consider racing elsewhere.
Ferrari are the only team to have been in Formula One since the first world championship season in 1950 and also the most successful and glamorous, even if they have not won a championship since 2008. They have accumulated a record 228 race wins, 16 constructors’ championships and 15 drivers’ titles.
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Formula One has been under new ownership since January, however, with U.S.-based Liberty Media taking over the commercial rights and ousting the former supremo Bernie Ecclestone. Liberty want to level the playing field and rebalance revenues once the current agreement with teams expires at the end of 2020.
Proposals for a new, cheaper and simpler engine were presented in Paris on Tuesday and there is another meeting of the sport’s Strategy Group next Tuesday to discuss other changes.
“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,” said Marchionne.
But he said Ferrari and Liberty appeared to be “somewhat at odds in terms of the strategic development” after 2020.
Teams and manufacturers met with F1 chiefs and the FIA earlier this week to discuss engine proposals for 2021, and another crunch meeting is due to take place next Tuesday when the Strategy Group gathers.
At that meeting, Liberty is expected to unveil more details about wider plans for F1 including a potential budget cap, a new governance structure and an overhaul of the sporting and commercial system.
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.”
Ferrari has previously made quit threats, but this is the first time in the Marchionne era that such a declaration has been made.
Marchionne suggested that walking away from F1 would be a good thing for Ferrari’s shareholders.