When Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne warned recently that he may have to pull the Italian supercar-maker out of Formula 1 racing, he wasn’t just bluffing in an attempt to squeeze concessions out of Liberty Media, former Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone warns. Although Ferrari has issued threats to quit in the past, ultimately failing to follow through, Ecclestone says that Liberty Media’s proposed engine changes for 2021 could actually drive the Italian brand out of the sport.
“If they can’t win, they will put forward new regulations,” the former Formula 1 boss told The Independent. “If the regulations come out where Ferrari think it is going to be a struggle and they can’t support the money then they will leave.”
Liberty Media has also floated the idea of introducing budget caps on team spending and balancing the prize money to take away Ferrari’s bonus. But “[Ferrari doesn’t] want budget caps and all that,” Ecclestone says. “They want to spend what they can afford to spend and I’ve always said the same thing. If people can’t spend they have to go. If there are then only three or four teams something would have to be done but until that actually happens nobody is going to do anything. All the teams that say they can’t afford it shouldn’t put an entry in.”
Ferrari is the only manufacturer that has raced continually in Formula 1 since its inception in 1950. Despite this, Marchionne says Ferrari is ready to leave if necessary, calling the option “totally beneficial to the profit and loss,” and saying the board would be “celebrating here until the cows come home.”