Ferrari's CEO is threatening to take his toys and go home.
Sergio Marchionne is apparently upset with plans Liberty Media has for revamping the sport. Ahead of meetings next week between Formula 1 officials and team owners, NBCSports.com is reporting that the Ferrari CEO is making not-so-veiled threats about what he sees as F1's attempt at tamping down the Ferrari machine.
"I understand that Liberty may have taken this 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," Marchionne said on an investor call.
Formula 1 owner Liberty Media wants to have new engine regulations in 2021 that includes how much money teams can spend. Call it a "salary cap" for Formula 1. The idea is to make the playing field a bit more competitive between the haves and have-nots. As one official put it -
"You can't pour millions of dollars in and start to widen it," said Ross Brawn, managing director of the F1 series.
Ferrari has been part of Formula 1 since its inception in 1950, and to say the manufacturer has been dominant is an understatement. They have 227 race wins, 16 constructors' championships and 15 drivers' titles over 68 seasons. By far, Ferrari is the most recognizable name in F1 racing. And while Marchionne agrees with some of the other moves Liberty Media wants to implement, like reducing the overall cost to operate, he makes it clear he has no issue with walking away.
"What I do know is that it [Formula 1] is part of our DNA since the day we were born. It's not as though we can define ourselves differently," said Marchionne. "But if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognizable sandbox, I don't want to play anymore."