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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

I am about to commit F1 blasphemy. Stand by while I put on my flak jacket … OK now I’m ready to take on one of F1’s most sacred cows: Ferrari.

Before I begin cow-tipping, I want to be very clear on one point. I love Ferrari, the road cars and the racing cars alike. I love the history, the mystique, the culture from which it comes, their style, their panache, their ethic, what they inspire, and the drivers that have raced for them throughout the years. If I had to pick one and only one car from all the cars in the world to own, old or new, super or road-going, it would most definitely be a 1965 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso and that is coming from a Porsche guy through and through.

As they have been all year, Ferrari are making headlines, however it is not because of the missed opportunity to win a drivers title which would be their first since 2007. I am also not referring to the lights-to-flag win in Brazil with Sebastian driving like his old self, thoroughly controlling the race from P1. Instead, the headlines I am referring to are due to the dust-up over what Liberty Media have in store for F1 going forward and what Ferrari deems is good for them, or rather what is not.

Here are a few quotes from Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne to get us started: “It (Formula 1) has been part of our DNA since the day we were born,” he said. “But if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognizable sandbox, I don’t want to play anymore.” He further went on to state, and this is the meat and potatoes of his complaint: “I think you need to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand in the marketplace and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.”

There is so much subtext there I don’t even know where to begin, but one thing is quite clear, that is a threat any way you form the carbon fiber. And that will be our point of departure for this discussion.

I am quite clear on which side of the debate I come down and while I am happy to share my opinions on all matters F1, this really is a post to spur honest critical thought on the subject matter at hand. This post is about Ferrari and what we all feel is their rightful place in F1, the sport of F1 and how these two entities will find common ground and mostly by default all about the fans which is you.

My Opinion And Only My Opinion

As I see it there are really two parallel points of view in this discussion and they should not be co-mingled if we are to further flush out this on-going argument that since the signing of the Concord agreement (there have been several, in which Bernie Ecclestone entered into several secret deals behind closed doors with the sport’s most prominent teams), rears its head every so often.

The more common point and the one that gets most people’s knickers all in a tizzy is, how relevant would F1 be without Ferrari? Would a constructor’s title or driver’s title still have the same value if both were won without Maranello in the mix? If we further parse this point out, one also has to ask (and answer) the question: what value do the current owners (Liberty Media) feel Ferrari bring to the party from a commercial point of view and what would they lose if Ferrari call for a divorce from F1? Conversely, what if any benefit does Ferrari enjoy by competing in F1 against the former titans of the sport, Williams and McLaren, as well as the new titans, Red Bull and Mercedes?

The less common point, but one I feel is worth our time, is how healthy is it for Ferrari to believe they are more important than everyone else, which I will concede is just a simple fact of life. Ferrari is more important to the sport than Force India as an example, but collectively, than all the other teams??? I wonder.

Many F1 fans will not agree and most Ferrari fans will most definitely not agree that F1 could survive without its most celebrated and most successful constructor. I am very interested to hear how the readers of this blog feel about it. However, one could also make the argument that any F1 team, even the holier than thou Ferrari, which uses threats to get what they want out of the sport is 1) not in a healthy relationship with the sport, 2) probably creating resentment from other teams in the sport (which was the case if my memory serves me when Ecclestone’s back room deals came to light previously) and lastly, is just not that sporting.

We should all take pause and remember that what we have come to understand as F1 began long before El Commodore starting building and racing his own cars in what would eventually become the official FIA sectioned formula.

It is true however (and everyone brings up this point ad nauseum) that historically Ferrari have been the only team to contest each and every race since F1’s official beginning in 1950, and I would absolutely agree that Ferrari should enjoy some preferred status in F1 as such. But should that entitle a team, any team, to hold the sport hostage for more money, require a unique veto power, or in the case of what has spurred the latest exit threats, to quash the vision or direction of the new owners???

Team principals and team owners have been asking for years for modernization and new ideas, including Ferrari. Maybe Liberty Media will make some changes for the better and maybe Ferrari should let the new owners try a few un-orthodox things or less traditional things to see if something positive can be achieved. Just a thought.

Let’s just outline for a second why Ferrari and Sergio Marchionne are posturing in this way to begin with. What seems to have really caught the eye of Ferrari are two areas of what will surely be a very difficult negotiation come 2020: engine formula and prize money. These are not points I wish to distill at this point, they are not part of this post, I am merely giving you the reader a bit more information and context.

That one manufacturer should think they are so important and should wield so much influence is sending the wrong message if you want other marquee manufacturers to participate – such as Porsche or Aston Martin. The idea that Ferrari could enjoy an unfair advantage, possess any veto power, or get paid 100 million dollars (note: this figure is a bit difficult to nail down – It took me several attempts to find information I was confident in. I finally settled on a article from Forbes of this year) just to show up when they have so many millions at their disposal already sounds insane to me and I feel is ultimately is bad for the sport. I can’t even think of a good analogy for this so here is a bad one. Ferrari getting that much money (and if I am correct that does not include the prize money for their finishing position at the season’s end) is similar to Amazon receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to build their new compound in whichever chosen city agrees to pay this ransom. Does anyone have any idea what Amazon is worth currently??? You could look it up, but I just did. As of July this year Jeff Bezos’ company is worth over 500 billion dollars. Wow…

I have, since the moment I learned of the historical payout to Ferrari felt it was completely out of line, no matter how important Ferrari is to the sport. Do they not make tons of money already by just being in F1? Did the Lakers get a show-up fee in the go-go eighties? How about the New England Patriots? If there ever was a Football team right now that deserves it, look no further. Does this same deal exist for Real Madrid? FC Barcelona? Man United? Arsenal?

History. (Not All It Is Cracked Up To Be.)

That there is some kind of mystique that Ferrari brings to the table is completely understandable in the context of the history of the sport. But I ask you, in the 20 year Ferrari drought from Jody Scheckter’s WDT to Michael Schumacher’s, did the sport enjoy any less success because Ferrari was not challenging for regular podiums or annual titles?

To put it another way, F1 did just fine without the red car winning championships. To hear some people tell it, Ferrari at one point were the laughingstock of the paddock until Luca di Montezemolo made it his life’s work to make the team from Maranello respectable again.

Tell me, how can one say Ferrari are so important yet for 20 years they had little or no success in the overall championships… the same 20 years that the sport became the juggernaut that it is today? Was this success due to, or because of Ferrari? Sure, it is nice to have that red car on the grid, but what percentage of Ferrari involvement really contributed to the sky-high world popularity and success that F1 gained in the 80’s and 90’s?? You tell me. Do the names Lotus, Williams, Brahbam, and McLaren ring any bells??? Did not these teams have just a bit to do with this success, that by the way also elevated Ferrari’s status despite the fact that Ferrari was not winning on a regular basis? (note: I know other teams also get historical pay-outs and there are also deals with Red Bull and Mercedes, but lets stay with Ferrari for now).

Again, one can look at Ferrari’s continued and long-term involvement in F1 as the leading point. This constructor should enjoy a unique type of status in the sport, and while it is true that teams such as Brahbam and Lotus are no longer, it must be stated that Ferrari have for a very long time been underwritten by the huge conglomerate FIAT to varying degrees over the years. In simple terms, FIAT pays all the bills for the Scuderia. How hard is it to just stay in a sport with no accountants to answer to? All you really need to do is show up.

It’s Not Personal, Just Politics

OK, now that I have well and truly focused the crosshairs on my back, let’s tackle yet another point that I think is always missed. Politics. Why would the current owners of the sport pay so much money to in any way upset the carbon fiber apple cart? Why would Liberty Media want to do anything that would cause the sport’s most celebrated team to threaten to quit?

I think it is all gamesmanship, and that the quit threat is just that, a threat. Did Red Bull follow through with their threats to quit? It seems that just few years ago Dietrich Mateschitz was saying he would be quitting every other week for something or another. Christian Horner, who is always good for a quote and I’m fond of referring to, weighed in on this issue by telling the press, where would Ferrari go? And I agree, where is Ferrari going to get the kind of exposure and fan devotion that they enjoy from F1? Again, I will absolutely agree that Ferrari helped create that level of exposure but now that the genie is out of the bottle, Red Bull and Mercedes have done a pretty good job at creating their own mystique thank you very much, as had Williams and McLaren.

I would love to see a more comprehensive poll in regards to what the entire F1 fan base thinks about Ferrari’s importance in the sport and whether or not Ferrari’s exit would truly make a difference. And when I say more comprehensive, I mean a plethora of questions, different age groups, traditionalists vs. new generation, is it the driver that you follow or the brand, why do you follow F1, what got you to notice and follow F1, if Ferrari is not challenging for race wins will you still find F1 compelling, etc. etc.

But as of right now we just have the survey from a poll that Autosport referred to in a recent article that was the impetus for this Op-ed. I have not verified the results, but if we are to take the comments at face value then there are opinions on both sides of this discussion. Autosport does not give a clear percentage of how many polled believe the sport would be worse off, just a cross section of opinions. Here are a few:

1.RPM40: I’d be sad if Ferrari left. It is a huge brand; it wouldn’t take much for F1 to be relegated to teams like IndyCar currently has, without much in the way of a clear identity. While the hardcore fans may not care as much, it’s a big draw for the casuals to hear a name they know.

2.Nustang70: Ferrari needs F1 just as much as vice versa. Ferrari needs a sport that can absorb a great deal of profligate spending.
Ferrari may complain because it isn’t winning championships, but so long as they can outspend and outperform nearly everyone else, they’re comfortable enough. Where else can they get that environment? Le Mans is the only other option.

3. PayasYouRace: F1 without Ferrari would be strange. But Ferrari without F1 would be stranger still. It would become just another manufacturer of sports cars.

4. Augurk: What a mess that has been created when Ecclestone gave Ferrari the advantages it has. There’s no way out without a loss of face.
How are Ferrari supposed to explain to shareholders that they will accept the loss of its “longest-standing team bonus” and its veto on regulation changes? They [Ecclestone and Ferrari] maneuvered themselves into a position where there will always be a loser.

In Retrospect

I think it is safe to say, not one fan, not any passionate F1 fan wants to see Ferrari out of the sport and that most definitely includes me. I am pretty sure no driver wants Ferrari out of the sport due to the fact that all drivers want nothing more than to race a Ferrari, even one that is not challenging for podiums and race wins, such is the draw and importance of this marque.

In Ferrari’s new found resurgence I am pretty sure Mercedes and Red Bull want nothing more than to compete against Ferrari, such is the feeling of victory against a great competitor and a team with such a rich history. Lastly, I am quite sure Ferrari don’t want to leave the sport as they seem to be on the cusp of another championship winning era with Sebastian Vettel.

What I am also quite sure of is that F1 and by extension the other teams don’t want a sport that is skewed toward just one of those constructors regardless of their history and mystique. Competing in F1 is so very hard already with the top teams spending millions of dollars to race each other. Smaller teams spend millions just to stay on the same lap albeit 40 – 90 seconds behind. How fair is it for every other team aside from Ferrari to spend these millions and to also be at a disadvantage or feel that it is not a level playing field due to the fact that one team can leverage its power politically to pick and choose what rules and regs they like, or that suit them, or worse, by threatening to quit?

Frank Williams, rather Sir Frank Williams, was honestly surprised by the veto power that Ferrari was given by FOM. I think the sweetheart deal that came to light in the press during one of the the Concord agreement (from 2005 or there abouts) was enlightening to quite a few people in the paddock. I remember thinking at the time, how can the other teams acquiesce to such an arrangement, but then again it was Bernie’s sandbox at the time and what Bernie wants Bernie gets, if you want to stay in F1 here is the deal take it or leave it…

The Question still stands, Does Ferrari need F1 more that F1 needs Ferrari?? I don’t know the answer to that question. I am sure that we do not need to see what would happen if F1’s most winningest team left the sport, and after all as long as I can remember, the F in F1 stands for Ferrari…

  • Salvu Borg

    Dear NC, Have you just started a new job with LM?

    • LOL…no, I missed the author pull-down menu….this is actually Johnpierre that wrote it. :)

      • Salvu Borg

        As you missed the author menu I am not to blame believing it was you doing the writing and not your twin.
        He certainly beats you both as a FERRARI fan as well as an LM fanatic.
        “How would you feel being credited with taking FERRARI out of F1? And tipo-e-spinto came the answer, LIKE A MILLION BUCKS”
        And I will repeat what I already said on here, who in his right mind would want to invest in F1 without FERRARI?.

    • John Palermo

      I think so.

  • Rob

    “The Question still stands, Does Ferrari need F1 more that F1 needs Ferrari??” I think that is one of the few questions you raise that is easy to answer…. F1 would work fine without the red cars, all be in a diminished capacity from a historical perspective. Ferrari’s modern identity IS F1… Maybe it could go back to sports car racing but it would not be the same for them for a generation (and it’s far from certain they could compete at their traditional level and get that name back).

    That Bernie & FIA special giving the red team veto rights and secret payments was wrong and needs to be stopped. The whole money thing needs to be solved – but that will never happen since Liberty want the cash flow more than the goose.

    • Salvu Borg

      Yes, LM wants the cash flow more than the goose, All these polemics are being pushed forward in the name of milking the cow better than the ones before them did, but it is clear that LM is not only not going to beat the milking of the system the ones before them did, but in their first year they are projected to take a record loss when compared to what the ones before took home, the real problem is their loss will be 50% shared by all teams, their loss already amounts to around 40 million.

  • charlie white

    Like you, NC, I’m a diehard Ferrari fan but no team is greater than the sport it participates. Major League Baseball would still be baseball without the New York Yankees. For Sergio Marchionne, he would be more concerned about falling Chrysler and Fiat sales in the US and searching for a corporate merger partner than Ferrari in F1. Unlike Chrysler, Ferrari sells every car they make and would continue to do so if it left F1.

    If racing is so important to Sergio, then why Dodge not in NASCAR again? The brand has long history in that motorsport. Unless Ferrari starts up a factory WEC GT program or begin to pour resources towards Risi Competizione, I’m prepared for Sergio to execute “the nuclear option” on F1. Go ahead, Sergio. I dare you. I think the sport will be just fine without you.

    • Salvu Borg

      FERRARI FANS? You out to have told that to the marines on thanksgiving day.

  • subcritical71

    It’s refreshing to see your objectivety on this and I agree with almost every point and counterpoint you have made.

    Too many times I see fans of a particular team blinded by that enthusiasm. I too call ferrari my favorite team (although Vettel is somehow my least favorite active driver, how does that work!).

    In my mind I think the answer is quite simple, Ferrari need F1 much more than the other way around. I do NOT want to see Ferrari leave. I enjoy cheering for them every week. But I think it is completely foolish of any organization to think they are greater than the part or sum of the rest. I’ve said it before, don’t let the door hit you on the way out… I don’t say that lightly, sometimes organizations need to be reminded why they do things and where they need to be to succeed.

    In order for the sport to be healthy I think the teams should be completely out of the decision making process (but not the ability to lobby). Giving any team a veto right was probably the worst decision an owner could have made. The only thing worse would be to give the winner of the constructors title a veto right… how would rules changes go then!

    • Salvu Borg

      We are in a situation that a fanboy can only see all objectivity on God’s green earth when the all the “past it’s sold by date” love for anything to do with FERRARI oozes out of somebody’s holes.

      • bobmendon

        What you lack in intellectual ability you make up for by being so entertaining.

        • Salvu Borg

          Bob, We (me and you) are far apart in our believes.
          While you notice my lack of intellect, I marvel at yours.
          While you notice me being so entertaining, I marvel at your lack of it.

  • MY BAD!!! Johnpierre is the author of this opinion piece. I missed that at the time of publishing. Any props for objectivity are for him on this post, not me. :) I’m a Ferrari fan, of course I think F1 needs them. ;)

    • subcritical71

      Damn, I thought t was you… you both have similar writing styles! Excellent article either way.

      • now it is my turn to say Damn. that could be the best compliment i have yet to receive. however i most definitely think NC can write circle around me…

  • trustinjustin

    Thanks for a well written, well balanced piece. It’s the opposite of garbage in, garbage out in effect here – a good piece yields good comments from the community. :)
    In sticking with the format, I duly declare that I am NOT a Ferrari fan. Never have been. I am an Alonso fan, so rooted for him to win in those years. And I have been to the factory and museum in Maranello because I am an F1 fan. And that’s actually probably the source of how I feel about this question: is this in service of the sport?
    I agree with the sentiments here – if you wanna leave, Ferrari, then go. We’ll carry on playing. With this threat, Ferrari are a bad taste in the mouth. It reminds me of a spoilt kid who isn’t getting his way at the kick about on Sunday so he tells everyone he’s going to take his ball and go home. Truth is, if he does there are other balls and the game will carry on. He may be missed in certain scenarios. But he’s always the one who misses out the most – deprived of performing well in his peer group, sitting alone at home, just he and his fancy ball.
    So, I have a bad taste in my mouth because of the selfishness of the threat: this whole episode does not serve the sport of formula 1 to grow.
    But realistically, COULD they even leave. Even if Sergio was determined to? It’d be a hard sell to the board, first of all. But it would be an impossible sell to Italy. Ironically, as exclusive as Ferrari is, it absolutely belongs to the people of Italy. Without a successful football team to root for in an international tournament, Ferrari is a source of immense pride for the passionate Italians. Ironic also that Ferrari’s uptick in form probably works against their leverage to quit – were they 10 years into a drought with a shitbox of a car and 2 drivers with little success (vs the 5 titles they share!), a cunning Ferrarista might be able to hoodwink everyone with a look-f1-isn’t-exactly-working-for-us-anymore-so-let’s-pull-out-and-invest-in-dominance-in-endurance-and-take-on-Porsche-and-Audi-and-probably-Aston spin. If not endurance, then something else.
    But Ferrari HAS to be racing.
    And THAT is fundamentally why this threat is a bit toothless.
    So, what do I wish and want to happen? For Liberty to call their bluff, and when the bravado is proven empty to then level the playing fields by taking away the veto and taking away entirely the guaranteed fee they get for showing up. This is not punitive, in my view. As I said, this is merely leveling the playing field. The benefits are obvious to the current players. But this move would also make entry into the shark infested political inferno that is F1 more attractive to new entrants. It would seem like the new sheriff is cleaning up.
    How likely is this? You might say I’m naive at this point, but I really think a version of my wishes is in the post. The reason international criminals fear extradition to the US so much is because the system is largely free of corruption. So I don’t think it’s crazy at all to envisage Liberty taking a look at how stacked the chips are in Ferrari’s favor and beginning to take some of those chips back for the communal pool.
    And if they did leave, which they won’t / can’t, is it so crazy to imagine Honda going full works and running red cars to fill the gap. ;)

  • Freddo

    It’s a little more than the fact that Ferrarri can Veto any decision, or the substantial historical bonus. Information on all new developments of any team have to be passed on to Ferrari.
    It’s very simple – you have a new boss (Liberty) – like any business you accept a new Contract or leave – that’s how business works. Equitable conditions and payments for everyone – though I would also add bonuses for those teams that manufacture their own cars (otherwise we finish up with a field of generic HAAS cars and lose that single appeal of F1 – teams pushing for the boundaries).
    “Historical Teams” such as Williams and McLaren have bought just as much to F1. And without teams like Minardi (then Stoddart – then Red Bull) , Jordan (now Force India) and Sauber many quality drivers would never have got into F1.

  • Fred

    I don’t really know the answer to this old question, and in the great scheme of auto racing I’m not sure it really matters. I’d love to see Ferrari racing Le Mans and prototypes, but I’d also miss them in F1. On the other hand the politics of F1 is always fun to read. What ever the outcome is, I wish them and all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, well if you are American anyways, and the upcoming Holidays.

  • John Palermo

    Hey Negative Camber. I understand you have to write an article and it is well written. After all this might be your livelihood, and so you can’t just post an empty page. You need to get some reaction from your readers, so naturally you’ll post about the topic that is red hot in the news at the moment. It’s easy to criticize the politics that go on in the background, most of which we don’t see, nor get the context of. Ferrari brings 30% of all F1 revenue to the sport, by the fans that follow Ferrari throughout the world. In any business deal, you get out of something what you can put it. Bernie understood the business side of F1 very well, love him or hate him. When you put the numbers on a spreadsheet and figure everything out, Ferrari (and other teams) payout money is business. You take away Ferrari, and you immediately take away about 30% revenue from the sport. This is not an exaggeration. So, yes Ferrari does hold a lot of weight in the sport, because they contribute directly to the fan base and the revenue. Long term strategies without Ferrari may work, but in the short-term the sport would take a very, very, big hit. It’s business and without the business there’s no sport.

    • Just to be clear, I didn’t write this piece. It is an editorial or Opinion piece from Johnpierre. My bias is well known, and I could certainly write a counter editorial to this piece arguing the opposite but I think that’s what JP wanted to do, get some good discussion about the topic. It’s a current hot topic and we’ve never avoided those since 2005.

      Is Ferrari that critical to F1? If you ask me, I would say yes and I also made that same case for Red Bull last year. Ferrari, like them or not, are one of the most recognized and known brands in the history of the world and that comes with the gravitas it demands.

  • Chester

    Better competition occurs when no team dominates the rule making body. I believe that to be an Occam’s Razor view of the situation.

  • p1ngu

    A great article, and I agree with a very large proportion. One thing though – you say that ” not one fan, not any passionate F1 fan wants to see Ferrari out of the sport.”

    I love F1, have followed it all my life, visit the tracks and have a deeply sad level of knowledge about the teams and their history. But I’d not miss Ferrari all that much if they left. I’m tired of their posturing, their lording it over the other teams, their casual insistence that they must be preferentially treated just because they’re Ferrari.

    I have a great deal more time for McLaren, Williams & Sauber. I’m blown away by the way that Mercedes have developed their Germanic juggernaut from the Brawn team. I love the fact that Red Bull, despite not being a manufacturer team, rewrote the rule book.

    Ferrari? They should have won both Championships this year and they fumbled it. Even with the cards stacked in their favour they can’t seem to convert their chances, and by continuing to defer to them in terms of influence and payments F1’s just being an enabler for Ferrari’s mediocrity. Force them to stand fully on their own two feet, to fight fairly. Until then I’ll continue to regard them as a relic, a symbol of the past and a great example of how not to run a team.

    Remember what Gilles Villeneuve said? “When you go to Ferrari, and you see the facilities, the test track and everything else, you wonder how they ever manage to lose a race. Then over time you see all the politics and intrigue, and you wonder how they ever manage to win one…”

    • Salvu Borg

      That old geaser that with the help of his one time tax adviser/buddy made F1 what it is today.
      ‘FERRARI is the biggest thing in the sports, The F1 is FERRARI, FERRARI is the F1. The biggest interest of other teams was always to challenge FERRARI/race against FERRARI.”

      • p1ngu

        Do you believe what you say, or are you just winding people up?

        Oh, and it’s Ferrari, not FERRARI. There’s no need to keep shouting.

        • Salvu Borg

          p1ngu, I BELIEVE IN BOTH, DID YOU HEAR ME?.

          • p1ngu

            As I thought, a troll.

            I’ll ignore everything you post from now on.

          • Salvu Borg

            Your chose, a right of yours.

  • Colin

    Personally I think Ferrari are just like Manchester United.. Supported mainly by those with a magnetic attraction to the colour Red. The BS about them bringing in 30 odd % money is speculation based on people buying hats and merchandise. Clearly without Ferrari others would get a better look in and so the whole atmosphere at GP’s would be more.. multicultural with punters buying other team merchandise. Nop… I can’t see a down side to Ferrari leaving the sport!

    • bobmendon

      “Ferrari generated €488m of revenue from “sponsorship, commercial and brand” in 2016, including its F1 team. ”

      Read more at:
      //economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/61696204.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

      • subcritical71

        While I don’t like using speculative numbers, I find in mind dumbing that they are spending the majority of 500m on R&D… to finish 2nd. But even the article eludes to the fact that it’s impossible to nail down an exact number.

        • and this is yet another point that comes up whenever the overall discussion of cost are spoken about. the amount of money that is spent for what effectively we the fans never see is getting (got out of control) a long time ago. I was never a fan of Max Mosely, but he was correct that the spending for a part say in the gearbox that allows changing to happen more rapidly (like a few milliseconds) just does not enhance the sport – so why spend millions on it????

      • Colin

        Thanks for that.. still can take a jump for me though!

  • bobmendon

    I just finished reading an article that says Ferrari will save between $100 to $159 million dollars if they drop out of F1. So I can look at that and say that they have a financial incentive to quit. I can also say that Ferrari has been investing that much annually in the sport. I don’t think its really a bluff. Reference: The Economic Times, Nov. 18th. online.

  • Paul KieferJr

    JP, I think the better question would be “Does Ferrari think they’re better than me and/or God?” My answer would be “no”, and I’ll happy to explain it to them in boot camp. I’m sure that they’re great automakers and all, but to have that kind of hubris tempts me to correct their attitudes quickly.

    Sorry, but I do have this “all-business blue-collar military brat” outlook and it just irks me when someone believes that they’re better than God. Ferrari’s fallen into that particular sin, and that needs to be fixed in a hurry.

    • Salvu Borg

      When one stretches things to their extreme, he risks sitting in the resultant oversplits and all that comes out of such splits.
      AS also, suggesting the extreme can only lead to an absurd conclusion.

  • griffiths70

    I don’t think Ferrari wants to leave Formula 1. The way I see it, Marchionne said that if Formula 1 is no longer Formula 1, then he’s not interested. I think that is a fair way to look at it. I hope that Liberty is careful when trying to improve Formula 1. Ferrari is not alone in their concerns and I don’t think they are the tail that is wagging the dog. F1 racing will continue without Ferrari, but it won’t be the same. Even commercially it will be worse off. I’m sure that a fairly high percentage of tickets are sold to Ferrari fans. I just think that neither side should take this lightly. Is Ferrari in F1 greater than F1, no because it is a part of F1. But a large component of F1 is Ferrari too.
    As far as the constant reference to the 100 million dollars loyalty bonus that they receive, they aren’t the only team to get that. They just get more to reflect the fact they have been in the sport longer. Their veto has been so seldom used, we weren’t even sure if it existed. To say that “In simple terms, FIAT pays all the bills for the Scuderia.” is not a matter of opinion, but simply false. Ferrari hasn’t been part of the FIAT group or FCA since 2014.
    “F1 did just fine without the red car winning championships. To hear some people tell it, Ferrari at one point were the laughingstock of the paddock until Luca di Montezemolo made it his life’s work to make the team from Maranello respectable again.” I can’t agree with this either. While not winning, they were in the upper part of the grid and close to winning several years. Not nearly as bad as McLaren these past few years and I wouldn’t call them the laughingstock of the paddock either. In fact, McLaren’s poor form hasn’t been good for F1 either.

  • Scottynz

    Quite frankly I would have no problem with Ferrari less F1 series. They are a team that enjoys a playing field that is considerably tilted in their favour (money wise) yet consistently fail to deliver the goods. If F1 is a true meritocracy then let Ferrari leave and give other teams the money that they receive. I would love to see what a team like Force India could achieve with some extra funding.

  • trustinjustin

    Thanks for a well written, well balanced piece. It’s the opposite of the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ effect here – a good piece yielding good comments from the community. :)
    In sticking with the format, I duly declare that I am NOT a Ferrari fan. Never have been. I am an Alonso fan, however, so I rooted for him (and them) during those years. And I’ve been to the factory and museum in Maranello because I’m an F1 fan …. And that fact – of my love for this sport – is actually probably the source of how I feel about this issue: is this Ferrari threat in service of the sport? Well, obviously not. But it’s worse than that. It’s selfish, self serving, short sighted and entitled.
    So, I agree with the majority of the sentiments here – if you wanna leave, Ferrari, then go. We’ll carry on playing. With this threat, Ferrari are a bad taste in the mouth. It reminds me of a spoilt kid who isn’t getting his way at the kick about on Sunday so he tells everyone he’s going to take his ball and go home. Truth is, if he does, there are other balls and the game will carry on. He may be missed in certain scenarios. And the game will take on a different look and feeling (as it would do when any player leaves) But he’s always the one who misses out the most – deprived of performing well in his peer group, sitting alone at home, just he and his fancy ball.
    So, I have a bad taste in my mouth because of the selfishness of the threat: this whole episode does not serve the sport to grow.
    But realistically, COULD they even leave. Even if Sergio was determined to? It’d be a hard sell to the board, first of all. But it would be an impossible sell to Italy. Ironically, as exclusive as Ferrari is, it absolutely belongs to the people of Italy. Ironic also that Ferrari’s uptick in form probably works against their leverage to quit – were they 10 years into a title drought (as they are!) but with a 5hitbox of a car and 2 drivers with little success (vs the 5 titles they share!), a cunning Ferrarista might be able to hoodwink everyone with an f1-isn’t-working-for-us-anymore-so-let’s-pull-out-and-invest-in-(insert series here)-and-take-on-(insert brand competitor here) spin.
    But, therein lies the rub, Ferrari HAS to be racing. And THAT is fundamentally why this threat is a bit toothless. Because Ferrari has to be racing.
    And there are only so many racing stage options out there. What are they gonna do? Go to Formula E? Indy? LMP / endurance is the only realistic option for them (tech + innovation + raw performance + direct competitors), but outside of Le Mans, the exposure doesn’t hold a candle to what the F1 calendar does for their marketing, globally, for 3/4 of the year.
    So, what do I wish and want to happen?
    For Liberty to call their bluff, and when the bravado is proven empty to then level the playing fields by taking away the veto, the guaranteed fee they get just for showing up and who knows what else they have as a perk that none of the other teams do. This is not punitive, in my view. As I said, this is merely leveling the playing field. The benefits are obvious to the current players – the residual resentment would fade and there’d be a renewed belief that maybe, just maybe, any one of the teams out there could win. And this would make entry into the shark-infested, political inferno that is F1 more attractive to new entrants. It would seem like the doctors are back in control of the asylum.
    How likely is this? You might say I’m naive at this point, but I really think a version of my wishes is not only possible, but likely. The reason international criminals fear extradition to the US so much is because the system is largely free of corruption – no special dispensations and deals for the privileged. So I don’t think it’s crazy at all to envisage Liberty taking a look at how stacked the chips are in Ferrari’s favor and beginning to take some of those chips back for the communal pool.
    And if they did leave, which they won’t / can’t, is it so crazy to imagine Honda going full works and running red cars to fill the gap. ;)

    • Salvu Borg

      Whatever FERRARI gets is very well invested because it keeps FERRARI in the sports, which in turn makes the sports more interesting to promotors, sponsors, teams, and viewers.
      Ferrari earn their bonus payment by making the pie that much bigger/larger for everyone involved, something that no other team can ever hope to do.
      If FERRARI is gone everyone involved would be poorer for it.
      And damit, I forgot to up-vote myself, but others will understand.

      • trustinjustin

        I appreciate the passion, really I do. Misguided though it is. Setting aside the questions of could Ferrari realistically pull out of Formula 1 to go racing elsewhere; and what that other series might be, let’s ponder only what F1 would look like, Ferrari-less.
        I just don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that F1 would be less “interesting to promoters, sponsors, teams and viewers.” So many factors drive what interests people – just look at the Max factor and the sea of orange we now see at stadia around the world. In fact, Max has gotten the Dutch government interested in bringing F1 back to Holland. I don’t think there is much argument that a Ferrari-less F1 would attract new entrants. And with those new entrants comes new interest – how is Lamborghini going to do up against McLaren? Who will win the battle for Hockenheim – Audi or Mercedes? Who is going to drive for Cadillac Haas next year?
        In this Ferrari-less world where there is MORE money to be distributed, not less, because the kitty doesn’t need to pay a subsidy to a single team irrespective of it’s performance or contribution, where the power structures are AT LEAST one degree less murky and conflicted with the removal of one team having veto power over rules (read: over rules which don’t suit them), is it crazy to imagine a more competitive series than one in which one team wins 90% of the Saturdays and Sundays for 4 years? Nothing gets interest going more than genuine excitement for an unknown outcome. Like a penalty shootout.
        Yes, the first year of going to Monza without Ferrari will be weird. But with each race that passes by, so too will the memory of what it was like to have Ferrari involved. And if – IF – Ferrari are indeed singularly responsible for making the pie bigger, it is absolutely true to imagine that any loss of size of the pie would very soon be regained.
        Look, the very nature of F1, the reason we here all love it so much, is because it has so many interesting facets – technology, intrigue, politics, performance, sexiness. And those are human intrigues that are interesting irrespective of any brand.
        It’s just not a viable reality that the F1 empire crumbles into nothing when Ferrari leaves. It’s absurd to even think that. Just as absurd to think that Ferrari actually would leave to go race elsewhere. The only potential scenario of Ferrari leaving F1 is if Ferrari + Mercedes + McLaren + Williams + Red Bull + Renault threatened a breakaway. THAT would signal the death of F1 as we know it. But that series, guaranteed, would not pay Ferrari a showing up fee, nor grant them a blind veto.
        And, hells yeah I upvote myself. And everyone else should always upvote themselves too. If I don’t show a vote of confidence in myself, how could I ever expect anyone else to?

        • Salvu Borg

          Your opinion is a right of yours as much as my opinion is a right of mine, you said your piece, I said mine.
          re your opinion of there being more money to be distributed, what the new commercial rights owners has been capable of doing in their first nine months was reduce the money to be distributed by 13%.

          • trustinjustin

            I wasn’t aware of this 13% decline in distributable revenue. I’ll investigate that … thx for making me aware. I actually thought that they hadn’t even begun to touch that hot potato yet in the strategy group meetings. I read an article whose proposition was that despite well placed sources etc we the general public had heard very little coming out of the most recent strategy group meeting, the one in which the proposed new engine direction was unveiled. And the deafening silence was indicative, the article posited, of some very prickly money stuffs happening. Ie: The new boss is telling the workers his POV on compensation. Oh, and I meant that if Ferrari didn’t get that lump sum payout, it would go into the pool to be divvied out amongst all the other teams. So in that sense there’d be more money floating around. But, thinking about it a little more deeply, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that that monies would go into the team fund. Probably the opposite, actually: it’ll go into the banked bottom line.

          • Salvu Borg

            “You worked your ass like crazy on this here dance floor yesterday, no shit and sweet, WAY to go man”.
            Now off you go, get a spade and start doing your digging.

  • Salvu Borg

    I am not trying to pull legs nor work others up, and neither trying to what some may term as a “troll”, I am dead serious about the following.
    History shows that in the past every time FERRARI threatened to quit the back then FIA (The all-powerful two buddies, M and E) backed-off.
    Ferrari reputation, their entire identity is based on the fact that they build their own engines and their own cars, it’s in their DNA, Enzo had to wait 4 years to be able to build and run his own cars after splitting with Alfa Romeo. This thing runs deep in their DNA. Any attempt to standardize engine or significant diminish FERRARI’s ability to distinguish itself as a team that does-it-all-in-house will be met with FERRARI threatening to quit, and it’s deadly serious each time, because it’s not just why they are in F1, it’s why they exist, and anybody who thinks FERRARI won’t follow through doesn’t know shit about F1 or FERRARI.

    • subcritical71

      Well, here goes feeding the animals again…

      So that is your opinion, and if anyone doesn’t share that opinion they don’t know shit… hmm, you wonder why we think you are trolling us here.

      “All-in-house” is fairly broad. Who again manufactures the brakes, ecu, spark plugs, fuel, oils, etc…. do they manufacture their own fasteners… Do they mine theit own material they use, do they have their own carbon fiber production line… Partners are not in-house. My point here is we can and do have a bit of standardization already, it’s not the big bad bogey man that your leader is portraiting it to be, it’s not bad thing of done correctly.

      Just to put a little historical perspective on this they have followed through on a quit threat how many times exactly? Their own report to shareholders mentions F1 participation as one of their greatest risks to their brand… I don’t see LM mentioning them in their risk statements….

      • I agree. The ability to have discourse here is to share opinion. The ability to engage in discourse is to know that not everyone will agree with your position. Few people agree with mine. I make my point, I offer justification and if I don’t change minds, that’s ok. I don’t accuse an entire community of not “knowing shit” about something.

        You’re missing the point that there are new fans here and they haven’t followed the sport for long so when veteran fans say things like “you don’t know shit” about something, it is boorish, ham-fisted and quite honestly, not welcome here. This site is intended to be a safe harbor for new and veteran fans, not a place where veteran fans can lord over new fans or insult people’s knowledge base or intelligence.

        If you participation here reduces itself to a desperation of “being right” and lauded by everyone as the Delphic oracle of F1, then you’ve arrived at the wrong website. I don’t want to have this conversation again so please change the approach or I’ll take other measures. I grow weary of our site having one person operate as they 800lbs gorilla in every comment section, it galvanizes and stunts any true, organic dialog.

        Be better than that or find another website please.

        • Salvu Borg

          My sincere apologizes for the bad way/bad taste I expressed my opinion.

  • Meine Postma

    Something something; Ferrari threaten to quit, something something; yawn

    I hate Sergio; he’s a bully and does not earn the heaps of money they say he makes.
    On the other hand, if Ferrari quits they might as well give up F1, look at the number of red shirts/caps in the F1-crowds.

    But I’m sure there would be a niche somewhere for the rest of the journeymen that make up F1, I, for one, would not watch it probably.

    • Very true about the red shirts/cap – im thinking of circuits such as Montreal.

  • hello eveyone I want to tank all of you for your impute and points of view. they are all valid and relevant. I enjoy reading them all and especially pay attention to the comments that take me to task. It is discussion such as these and the completely different opinions that get me excited to write a piece such as this and contribute to a site/forum like this one. Long live F1Blog.com and the community that supports it and of course the man that makes it all happen – NC…

  • Enrique Bofarull

    Simple truth: F1 cannot survive without Ferrari
    Not if Ferrari decided to joint a parallel competing series. Wich by the way has a lot of people willing to make for that chance (Bernie, Flavio, The French and German GP, Media Corporations, and so many others) This is the hidden threat nobody wants to mention.
    Add a couple of great classic circuits like Imola or Zanwoort to the series and you have F1 revisited with the level of heritage legitimacy that only Ferrari delivers. Where do you think the current F1 other car manufacturers like Mercedes or Renault, or rumored new ones like Audi or Porsche would go? Where do you think the Hamiltons, Vettel and Alonsos would go?,Where do you think the fans and audiences would go? I have no doubt,