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Ferrari could quit Formula 1 over new proposals by Liberty Media

Marchionne said F1 had been "part of our DNA since the day we were born". But he added: "If we change the sandbox to the point it becomes unrecognisable, I don't want to play any more."

Nov.06 - SportLand: Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has said the team could quit Formula 1 if they do not approve of the direction taken by new owners Liberty Media. The Ferrari chief pinpointed proposals for a new engine design from 2021 as he made the threat in a conference call with investors.

Marchionne said F1 had been "part of our DNA since the day we were born". But he added: "If we change the sandbox to the point it becomes unrecognisable, I don't want to play any more."

According to BBC Chief F1 writer Andrew Benson, his concerns follow objections from both Mercedes and Renault over plans for a new engine design that were presented jointly on Tuesday by governing body the FIA and the F1 Group, which was bought by Liberty earlier this year.

They set a confrontational tone for the major meeting on 7 November of F1's strategy group, which includes the FIA, F1 and the six leading teams.

Liberty is expected to outline further details of its plans for the sport, including how to instigate a budget cap. Marchionne said: "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.

"There are a couple of things we don't necessarily agree with, one of which is the fact that somehow powertrain uniqueness is not going to be one of the drivers of distinctiveness of the participants' line-up. I would not countenance this going forward. "The fact 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 Liberty may have taken these into account, but 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."

This is not the first time Ferrari have threatened to quit Formula 1 on the basis of rules they do not like. Many will regard this latest one along the same historical lines - we've heard it all before, they'll never do it etc.

But Marchionne's comments underline a key problem for F1's commercial rights holders. Three of the four engine manufacturers involved in the sport oppose their proposed new rules. And although Honda has not commented, the likelihood is it does too, given the current rules and their relevance to road-car efficiency are why it entered F1 in the first place.

The engine rules are wrapped up in the rest of the post-2020 F1 picture, which also includes a desire to cut costs, redistribute prize money and other issues. Owners Liberty Media will reveal more of their plans next week.

 

Part of the aim of the proposed engine rules is to attract independent companies so F1 is not so beholden to the car companies.