Should we be concerned about Ferrari’s threat to leave F1?

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Ferrari are the longest serving constructor in Formula 1, although they started as they meant to continue by cot turning up to the inaugural World Championship Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1950 as they were unhappy with the start money offered.   I wonder what excuse they used at that time, as they cannot have relied upon the fact that they were the oldest constructor in the sport (as every other manufacturer entered had been going since before the Second World War).  In fact the team have missed 27 of the World Championship Grands Prix held to date (all of these before Bernie Ecclestone insisted that teams commit to attending all races in a season in the early 1980s).  Eleven of these events are the Indianapolis 500 that was included in the World Championship calendar from 1950 – 1960,but that still leave sixteen events that the works team failed to show up for in the first three decades of the series.

So Ferrari have a long history of not attending races when they are unhappy with the event promoters, or when they expected to be uncompetitive.  However since the first Concorde Agreement in January 1981, teams have been required to commit to the full season of Grands Prix, so Ferrari have been contractually obliged to attend all the races, this hasn’t stopped the Italian arm waving and frequent threats to quit the sport.  The most serious of these was probably in 1986 (when Ferrari was unhappy with the engine regulations that were to replace the turbocharged 1.5 litre units then used).  Enzo Ferrari was unhappy with the mandated V8 for the normally aspirated engine, and so threatened to leave F1 for CART.  This wasn’t just words though; they actually designed and built a chassis (ironically using a V8 engine that was mandated by the CART regulations).  When the images of the car were leaked to the press, the F1 regulations were changed which allowed Ferrari to build a V12 for the new 3.5 litre F1, and also allowed Honda to build the more efficient V10 which dominated the series, with every other engine manufacturer (including Ferrari) having to eventually adopt this configuration in order to be competitive.

This current threat to quit hasn’t yet reached the stage where the team has built a car to compete in an alternative series, so should we take it seriously?   Other manufacturers when their competitiveness hasn’t met expectations have quit the series (BMW, Toyota, Renault, Honda), and while some of these have returned (sometimes more than once), Ferrari have never gotten as far as leaving in the first place.  Perhaps the reason for their staying in the series can be explained by their marketing strategy.  Ferrari do not advertise, the only promotion they do is through their Formula 1 racing, and most of this is funded by the prize money from FOM (now Liberty Media) or by the sponsors of the race team (Phillip Morris and others).  AUTOSPORT have carried out an analysis of what each team spent for the 2017 season (note, behind paywall), this concludes that Ferrari spent £350 Million in 2017 (including engines – £305 Million excluding), they received £180 million from FOM – a £9 Million reduction over what they received in 2016, and £170 Million from sponsors and licensing.  Now there is a note to say that one of the sponsors is Ferrari themselves, but it is hard to see that it compares to the advertising value the brand gets for exposure to such a large global audience.  Ferrari are the most recognised team within the sport, and Toto Wolff has estimated the value of exposure Mercedes gets from the sport is in the billions per year.  Ferrari must be getting at least the equivalent value and this far exceeds the few tens of millions they have to spend on the team.  Even with a declining TV audience, F1 still attracts around 400 million views around the world; it is hard to see how Ferrari could gain that exposure by competing in WEC, IndyCar or any other motorsport, as they just don’t have that level of audience.

Yes, Ferrari could well choose to leave Formula 1, but I think it would hard Ferrari far more than it harms Formula 1. The sport has had many manufacturers pull out, and many once great teams disappear, yet it has survived.  It would survive the Italian team’s departure (should it ever happen), but I am less convince that Ferrari would remain as a viable car company without the F1 team to do its marketing.

 

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37 Comments on "Should we be concerned about Ferrari’s threat to leave F1?"

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Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Nobody should ever be in control of anything that you’re responsible for. That means that they have control of you. If they have control of you, nobody will ever take you seriously and may well question whether or not you deserve respect. Anyone who attempts to unduly influence the sport for their own personal gains should be made an example so that nobody will ever doubt who is in charge and has the authority to govern a sport.

That is how you solve the Ferrari problem.

sunnystivala
Guest
sunnystivala

MR. Rapierman, who in your opinion has a right and so should be in charge and so has the authority to govern the sports?.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Right now, it’s Liberty Media since they own it, so it’s time for them to make the move.

sunnystivala
Guest
sunnystivala

Liberty Media owns what exactly?.

sunnystivala
Guest
sunnystivala

The only way to solve the FERRARI problem is to Americanize the sports.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71
Concerned, yes.. held hostage, no. I say this as no disrespect or minimizing the history of Ferrari or any other team on the grid. But this is where Liberty Media need to assert their authority as owners of the sport. When they bought the sport they had an idea of where they wanted it to go. They should be the ones in charge of determining that path, for better or worse. Having said that, their views will be influenced over time with input from many directions, including the teams and fans. It would be wise to listen but they alone… Read more »
sunnystivala
Guest
sunnystivala

Seems the need is still there to remind others that:- Liberty Media don’t own F1, they are the sports commercial rights holders, their mandate is to maximize the revenue that the sports generates. it isn’t to introduce budget caps or determine technical specifications or lincence drivers or teams wishing to compete in F1, this isn’t Indycar or NASCAR.

(Q) How do you make a small fortune in racing?.
(A) Start with a large one!.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

But they are the owners. ‘Formula 1’, not ‘Formula One World Championship’ is owned by Liberty (practically 100%). ‘Formula 1’ or ‘F1’ is the name of the commercial rights group you mentioned. The FIA are owners of ‘Formula One World Championship’, not ‘Formula 1’.

Where do you see that F1 or Formula 1 is owned by someone/something else?

sunnystivala
Guest
sunnystivala

Liberty media are the owners of formula 1’s commercial rights, as such are responsible for the exploitation of the sports commercial right only and have nothing to do with rules and regulations of formula 1. liberty major problem is two of their commercial executives (Cary and Bratches) are devoid of any experience in F1 or any form of motor racing.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71
Look, you really seem to have a problem with Liberty, their executives (as you call them 3 wise men), NASCAR, and IndyCar. All I can say about your statement is that FOM (Chase Carey) have a seat on the WMSC (as well as Maurizio Arrivabene and Filipe Massa)… that seat gives them a voice and influence in the rules and regulations. The WMSC is an FIA organization. The FIA and Formula 1 have vested interest to work together and ensure the sport is sustainable even outside of the WMSC-F1 link. Whether officially or not, I cannot imagine that they are… Read more »
sunny+stivala
Guest
sunny+stivala
Yes I have a problem with Liberty and will have a problem with whoever tries to diminish in any way the pinnacle of the sports I have been following since its very start. And I will repeat that the new formula one commercial rights owners have no right whatsoever of anything to do with rules and regulations. Owning the commercial rights, having a seat here and there, your opinion and taste of how things out to be run included (SOMETHING WHICH IS A RIGHT OF YOURS) does not change anything of what I said as regards who makes and manage… Read more »
subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

Sure dude, you can have your opinion, I have no problem with that. Don’t respond to my post trying to correct it with your condescending attitude when the facts are on my side. This is supposed to be civil.

sunny+stivala
Guest
sunny+stivala

When one participate on a discussion forum he is exposing himself to be corrected and or being disagreed with. not wanting to be responded too is not the way a discussion forum works. and responding too doesn’t make it “uncivil”.

Herb Brownell
Guest
Herb Brownell

Perhaps it is time for MB should put both 4 time champions, Hamilton and Vettel, in the same car. Let them “Shoot it out” in identical equipment for their enjoyment and the enjoyment of Formula One fans.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

Now that is an idea I could get behind! But add a few more drivers (Alonso and Ricciardo come to mind). In equal cars we would see who comes out on top.

sunnystivala
Guest
sunnystivala

now that’s some fantastic dream.

Member

So more votes for a spec drivers series?
There are lots of racing series like that available, F2, and GP, Indy Car, V8 Supercars, the old A1 GP.
I really hope that isn’t the direction L.M choose to take F1, and it seems that Marchionne has the same view. I’m sure the other manufacturers and constructors would have the same view.
I could make an argument that the ‘Race of Champions’ would be a better test to determine who is the ‘best driver in the world’. In that drivers from a range of disciplines compete in a range of vehicles and disciplines.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

For me I was commenting on the idea of a few drivers in equal equipment shooting it out in a one off race. Sorta like the karting races we see them do… except this time in real equipment. The manufacturer could be anybody, as long as the cars were setup equal in terms of equipment.. setup would be driver preference.

Member

Fair enough subC, I just like baiting people about the idea of F1 becoming a spec series.
I can see the attraction of the idea, they’d have to race Sauber’s (Alf-a-uber’s), to eliminate the driver familiarity advantage.
Or how about a season where every driver drives every car in the course of a 20 race season?
That would be a real test of driver skill and adaptability, and probably a huge test of team adaptability.
The more I think about it, I quite like that as a format for a WDC, snd WCC, what’s Ross Brawn’s phone number?

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

I wouldn’t enjoy F1 anymore if it were a spec series. Spec series have their place, but F1 is not that place.

Member
I think as F1 fans, we should definitely be concerned. For several reasons; 1). Liberty Media seemed to be settling out on a process to involve all parties in developing F1’s future direction, if we’re already seeing Ferrari (and others) taking entrenched positions, their diplomacy and negotiation skills aren’t very impressive. 2). If Liberty Media do decide to take F1 in a direction that Ferrari feel doesn’t provide them with a suitable technical challenge and marketing opportunity, it probably won’t appeal to other manufacturers, and many of the current constructors either. 3). The 2017 FIA fan survey showed over 30%… Read more »
subcritical71
Member
subcritical71
Yeah, I believe we are just in the beginning of side 1 states their out of this world idea, side 2 states that they are on the other side of the universe with side 1… in 2 years we are in the middle somewhere and everyone is happy. I think your point 2) will sort itself out quit quickly if more than a few of the teams gang up against Liberty. I don’t believe liberty want to loose any team, much less multiple teams. These are typical negotiation tactics and get outsiders riled up. Personally I wouldn’t go into any… Read more »
sunny+stivala
Guest
sunny+stivala

Things in F1, The pinnacle of motor racing, of which Liberty are the new commercial right owners doesn’t and will never work the way liberty and people like you wants them to work.

Member

And how do ‘people like me’ want them to work?
I don’t think I’ve given an opinion yet.

sunny+stivala
Guest
sunny+stivala

JAKO, I do not know how “people like you” want them to work, I was talking to “subcritical71” when I said “people like you”.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

I highly doubt you know what I want either…

sunny+stivala
Guest
sunny+stivala

To be honest with you I can pretty much figure out what you would like and want F1 to be like.

Member

Sorry Salvu, I actually figured that out later, but found I couldn’t edit or delete my post.
That’s a potential trap to watch out for, and maybe something for Todd to note.

sunny+stivala
Guest
sunny+stivala

Its OK JAKO, I already ran into that problem and had talked to NC about it, about the “edit” function he told me that it is only “ON” for a few minutes after posting. I do not know why but from this side it is still not as easy as before to post. being able to “DELETE” a post is another thing that should be considered.

sunny+stivala
Guest
sunny+stivala

Although the reply facility is functioning as it should, placing the answering post right under the post it intends answering, on this new site it doesn’t automatically address the poster name in print the reply is intended to like it was doing on the old site.

Sakae
Guest
Sakae
“Brawn: Ferrari must work to F1’s parameters” is the latest headline, quoting purportedly the Imperial head. I am not sure what anyone else is thinking about this, but I am hearing a corporate order, rather than an invitation to have a conversation and negotiations. I wish if Brawn could kindly remind me, when was the common enemy – Ferrari – not working to F1 parameters. Vilification of the team (from many sides) continues. Too many questions are popping up. For example why is Brawn involved in a job which probably should be done by FiA? How teams would know whether… Read more »
sunny stivala
Guest
sunny stivala

Please note NC, hitting problems to post. reply facility out of order again. but at least EDIT is staying on a bit longer.

sunny stivala
Guest
sunny stivala
Sakae, my second try. Sakae: “Brawn: FERRARI must work to F1’s parameters”. That is what Brawn the now game keeper to the new commercial rights owners is saying, that is something that is totally contrary to what he use to fight for when he was a poacher. but I am sure that Brawn of all people knows that those he is now game keeping for has no right whatsoever to impose or dictate budget caps or technical rules/regulations specifications. could be the new commercial rights owners aim is to turn F1 racing into a NASCAR/INDYCAR series, but in that case… Read more »
Sakae
Guest
Sakae
@sunny stivala – LM is launching a lot of initiatives which are rubbing me wrong way. Bellicose rhetoric and approach demonstrated so far is nothing but thinly veiled bias, and hardly what I would termed “good will” negotiations. There is some possibility that after Brexit EU based teams will loose all negotiating leverage, especially when FOG has chosen to keep offices and legal matters is London under British court. I would advise (not that they do need it) MB, Ferrari and Renault to simply leave the series, unless they are prepared to invest money and have no voice, seeing them… Read more »
sunny stivala
Guest
sunny stivala

Sakae, Just in case you haven’t came across and read, “the ugly truth about liberty media and F1, 3 OCT 2017” this by a very experienced follower of F1.

Sakae
Guest
Sakae

Thanks, I’ve seen it.