The talk all week has centered around the proposed engine changes for 2021 as well as cost-caps and other decision new owners of F1, Liberty Media, have announced. Mercedes and Renault were quick to voice their opinion about deviating from the engine format as it would be a new engine and possible start and arms race or at least, be very expensive in R&D.
They are right, of course, it would be expensive to re-design an entirely new engine but none of them were that concerned about that back in 2013. They spent a fortune on the current hybrid engines and then cast their R&D cost off on engine supply contracts that double and nearly tripled depending on who you ask. Three teams are now pushing up daisies over the issue.
True to form, Ferrari have now weighed in on the issue and not surprisingly, they also aren’t happy. There weren’t happy back in 2013 either but now that they’ve invested heavily in hybrid technology, perhaps they aren’t keen to walk away from it either. Ferrari CEO, Sergio Marchionne, said:
“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 these 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.”
It’s not the first time Ferrari have threatened to leave the sport and there are some fans that would like it if they did but the last time Ferrari threatened to leave, it was helmed by a different man. Marchionne doesn’t seem to have quite the attachment to the F1 world that Luca di Montezeolo had. Luca had never know anything different than F1 and Ferrari but Marchionne comes from Fiat and he’s more than happy to stop the expense that F1 represents.
“It would be totally beneficial to the P&L [profits and losses],” he said.
“We would be celebrating here until the cows come home.
“What I do know is that it [F1] has been part of our DNA since the day we were born.
“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.”
Marchionne said he would have no problem terminating the program.
“I’d be working on an alternative strategy to try and replace it,” he said. “A more rational one, too”.
Ferrari also have a veto option baked in to their bilateral contract with F1 and could threaten to use that should they not like the direction F1 is heading. A meeting is to be held next Tuesday to discuss the matter further and Ferrari say they are heading into the meeting with the best of intentions.
We’ve been talking about this moment since last Fall when it was rumored that Liberty would be buying controlling ownership. The fact is, they’ve spent the first part of the year allowing more social media, adding a “fan zone” and talking about NFL-style events and have been praised for their openness and new approach to F1. To be honest, that’s the low-hanging fruit, the really tough part of their ownership will start now.
As we’ve said in the past, retaining the manufacturers, finding parity in performance between the teams, cost-caps, engine regulations…none of this is easy and it will test the resolve and compromise of Liberty Media. This, then, is the main reason they hired Ross Brawn. Few people know the sort at a granular level and this is where Mr. Ecclestone used to earn the big bucks.
Hat Tip: Autosport