Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says he has been “encouraged” by Liberty Media’s “change in attitude” over their plans for F1 post-2020, but has reiterated the Scuderia could still “just pull out” of the sport.
At last month’s Bahrain GP, Formula 1’s bosses presented their proposals for the future of the sport to the 10 teams which confirmed their intention to introduce a cost cap and ‘cheaper and simpler’ power units.
Marchionne has previously warned that Ferrari – F1’s oldest and most successful team – could quit the sport if he was not happy with Liberty‘s vision.
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Speaking in a conference call with analysts to discuss Ferrari‘s latest financial results, Marchionne said he now saw enough to hold “meaningful discussions” with F1’s commercial rights holders.
“I’m encouraged by the change in the attitude that we are seeing from Liberty in terms of the extent of the changes that they’re forecasting in 2021,” he said, via Reuters.
“Probably the biggest indication has been the recognition of the fact that the engine regulations need to reflect sort of the nature of the sport. And we can’t really dumb down engine development just to accommodate new entries, right?
“So the stuff that’s on the table now is potentially workable as a system. The economics are not. I think that’s something that we need to go back to Liberty with.
“I think we now have enough of a basis to try start having meaningful discussions. And hopefully, we’ll get it all resolved by the end of this year one way or the other.”
But Ferrari quit threat remains
Liberty‘s proposal covers the sport’s next era after the current Concorde Agreement – which binds the sport together – expires at the end of 2020.
In addition to a cost cap and new engine regulations, a new ‘revenue distribution criteria’ has also been proposed, ‘based on meritocracy of the current performance and reward success for the teams and the Commercial Rights Holder.’
Additionally, Liberty have promised to maintain differentiation between cars, but ‘believe areas not relevant to fans need to be standardised’.
Marchionne said he could see benefit in lowering costs around aerodynamic development, but warned Ferrari could still “just pull out” if a sensible balance could not be found.
“The important thing for us… is that we don’t touch the nature of the technical development of the powertrains because that is at the heart of what Ferrari does for a living,” he said.
“I think we need to continue to work with Liberty with the commercial rights holders and with the (governing) FIA to try and bring about a sensible equilibrium. If we can’t, as I said before, we’ll just pull out.
“But we’re not there today. I think we owe the sport a phenomenal effort to try and bring about closure of these items. We’ll try and get that done before the end of this year.”
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