Ferrari could leave over cost-cap reductions, endorses customer cars

Editor- In an interesting clarification move by Ferrari, the team said the following:

“To clarify: if the budget cap became too severe, we would look at other competitions in addition to F1,” said Binotto.

So while the Guardian article suggests that the team might leave F1, Ferrari have clarified that they would look to other series and not just F1.

As a bookend story to my piece yesterday, it now seems that Ferrari might join Red Bull in endorsing the concept of customer cars. The endorsement was born from a discussion by Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto, in which he warned that any further reduction of the cost cap would most likely find the team moving to another racing series.

“The $145m level is already a new and demanding request compared to what was set out last June,” he told British newspaper 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.”

I have enjoyed all of the pointed comments from fans on social media about Ferrari, once again, threatening to leave the sport if they don’t get their way. While Ferrari have a history of threatening to leave, I do think this is contextual.

Ferrari, like any other team or car maker, has employees, staff, production facilities and infrastructure they would like to retain and part of doing so is to win races, win titles and make the most of their marketing investments to ensure their top-line revenue is healthy and the brand is not only protected but elevated as the premier sports car manufacturer.

Doing all of this on a $100m F1 budget is not something they are interested in and while you may accuse them of threatening the sport if they don’t get their way, isn’t that what McLaren just recently did with their warning about four teams leaving the sport if the budget wasn’t slashed to $75-100M? How is this much different?

“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.”

This is a key point and in this, I agree with Mattia. F1 has a history of always leading with pragmatism instead of prudence and that has created more issues than it has solved. Measuring twice and cutting once is a better idea and now is the time to deliberate on the long-term solution with short-term actions created to achieve the long-term goals.

With McLaren lobbying for a $100m cap and others looking even lower, Ferrari believes there is a risk to lowering it too much.

“F1 has to be the pinnacle of motor sport in terms of technology and performance. 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.”

A lot could be made as to whether technology is the prime mover for a sport being the “pinnacle” of it’s class. I would argue it is for sure but not all of it. The F1 car of 2012 is still more advanced than many current formula and I believe that the race locations add to the allure as well as the hospitality, events surrounding the race weekend, brands involved and the excitement of the actual racing. They are all key to making it the pinnacle of motorsport.

One statement from Binotto that I found interesting is his agreement with Red Bull’s Christian Horner regarding customer cars that we mentioned here.

“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. It’s not even sacrilegious, given it’s happened before in F1 and happens today in series such as [motorcycling’s] MotoGP.”

He agrees that if some teams are at risk of closing, then perhaps a customer car concept is a good idea and as I mentioned in our previous article, there is precedent for it. Sir Frank Williams, the staunchest critic of customer cars, got his start in F1 via customer cars.

Hat Tip: the Guardian

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Tom Firth

Customer cars seems to be happening in stealth basically by this point anyway, Haas has a strong resemblance to Ferrari, Racing Point to Mercedes and it’s not a huge leap for Alpha Tauri to run customer cars for Red Bull as Toro Rosso effectively has before today. I think if you’ve got the three powerhouse teams onboard, it will be very hard to resist the proposal to make it a formal customer relationship. Lets be honest, to get all three behind it is something that hardly ever happens. The concept as Binotto says works well in MotoGP with satellite teams,… Read more »

Tom Firth

As much as I would love to see Ferrari go spend some of the money and resources it saves in a cost capped F1 in WEC until the regulations are out there on LMDh and the viability of HyperCar is clear, I can’t honestly see Ferrari investing in it or spending more actual Ferrari money in GTLM which may struggle in the new prototype era.


Ah, Ferrari threatening to leave F1, now it feels like an F1 season.
It’s a bit like putting on an old pair of jeans, it’s just comfortable.

Jokes aside, I kind of agree that something needs to be done. if this calamity has shown anything (motorsports wise) is just how vulnerable some of the teams are.

Tom Firth

It’s also shown how much the current promoter/circuit relationship in F1 needs change. if things were different then the possibility of running behind closed doors would be easier.


Running behind closed doors is a difficult proposition, not sure if you heard the same podcast as I did in this regard, but the problem is this.

F1 circus comes to town, promoter/government sets up external events, people come to events and spend money (but may not go to the race), economy is boosted, government is happy and puts money in for the next race. But if its’ behind closed doors, no events, no boost to the economy, government is not happy, won’t put in money for next race.