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Iv’e read all the “don’t let the door hit you in the &*$ on the way out” comments from Formula 1 fans who have no love of Ferrari but while that may be the knee-jerk reaction from non-fans, it ignores the impact Ferrari has on the sport’s brand and livelihood. Some consider the threat to leave as an empty threat but CEO Sergio Marchionne says that’s not he case:

“We have a dialogue that is evolving, and we still have some time to find points of contact between our differences,” said Marchionne.

“Our position is clear, though: the agreement that we made with Sauber expires in 2020, just in case [after that date] Ferrari is not in F1.

“This possibility is serious. The differences are not small, but Chase and I share the belief that we should find a meeting point for the good of the sport.

“We have been very clear on the points that Ferrari cannot give up: the importance of the development of technology is essential for us. We cannot make the cars equal to the point that they can no longer be recognisable on the technological front.

“The heart of Ferrari is technical development. If the direction is not this, then Ferrari will find other contexts to demonstrate its skill on track – and maybe at that time we will also be with Sauber.

“We have doubled the efforts to find a solution with Chase, but we have no way given up our goals.”

As odd as it may seem, Ferrari went into the new hybrid era dragging their feet under Luca di Montezemolo but with Sergio, if there was a reason the sport will stay with the current format, it will be with Ferrari’s strong recommendation.

The challenge, as Sergio rightly points out, is that a cost cap is nearly impossible to manage and that would leave standardization as a way of mitigating costs but he isn’t keen on that either as it loses the bespoke and individual nature of F1 and he doesn’t want Ferrari to not be a Ferrari. I am sure Mercedes feels very similar.

So what’s the answer? Well, it has to be addressed because Ferrari only signed a Alfa Romeo deal with Sauber through 2020 meaning that if Ferrari leaves, so will Alfa.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.

  • Salvu Borg

    Not only Mercedes feels very similar but also Renault and Honda does, even so they seems to have no chance at least at present of beating FERRARI and Mercedes, the four manufacturers present in F1 knows that the only future left for the ICE is it’s electrification which leads to the maximum possible efficiency.

  • charlie white

    I’m putting my money on Liberty Media on this showdown. Every 3 days, there’s a new angle or quote from Sergio Marchionne on this threat. But we hear very little from Liberty’s chosen 3 Wise Men(Chase, Sean & Ross). Sergio may be sawing on the very tree branch where he sits as this blustery talk could very carry over to impact FCA’s primary business and market: selling cars in the USA and search for a potential merger partner in North America. I think the 3 Wise Men have already projected a Formula-1 business plan that does not include Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz after 2020.

    • nightryder21

      They say it’s better to stay quite and let them believe you are a fool rather than open you mouth and prove them right.

      • subcritical71

        I don’t want to see any teams go… Even a Manor leaving has a lasting impact on the sport. I do feel for Sergio though and this is a bit mean spirited, but it’s almost as if he feels he’s not being heard… hey, guys… it’s me… I’m going to quit unless I get my way… hey… hello… can you hear me… I said I was serious… steering wheel! ;)

    • Paul KieferJr

      No bet, you’re probably right.

  • nightryder21

    Option 1: Status Quo… Ferrari keeps the lucrative advantages (and the sport will stay forever harmed.

    Option 2: Ferrari accepts that the sport is changing with or without it. They need to give up the veto ability. They, and other teams, need to give up the legacy payments (payments will step down over a period of time and go into the general prize pot).

    I love Ferrari very much want them to stay. F1 and Ferrari will both be better off with them in the sport but not at its current state. It’s a bitter pill to swallow and probably better taken in small doses over time.

    I don’t see the veto ability staying after 2020. Then I expect manufacturers to accept that legacy payments will go gradually be reduced over some period (probably the length of time untill the next agreement)

    In terms of standardized parts, I don’t see major parts being standardized. I can see certain parts having cost plcaps on themselves. This would be a better implementation rather than an over all cost cap (which would include staff, overhead, etc) putting cost caps on specific major parts allows teams, manufacturers, and oems to innovate under a financial handicap. Super exotic alloys from a Comet that passes the earth every billion years will no longer be feasible.

    Aero also needs to be an dressed, again not by standarized parts. FOM/FIA, should dictate want they don’t want to see from aero. Let’s say you want cars to follow more closely. Dictate that all cars before each race can not disturb air with in a certain defined area. It’s not an easy nor cheap solution but it allows engineering innovation from teams/manufactuers and allows the close side by side racing we enjoy.

    Solution will not be cheap. But the costs will be mitigated over time as rules standardized and stay in place for longer periods. Less rules on the parts themselves and more regulation on a defined set of parameters of what the car and parts should accomplish.

  • subcritical71

    I’m solidly in the ‘don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ camp, and I do like Ferrari (not big on the finger guy though). I don’t take the consequences of their threat lightly, but also look at history to tell me how serious they are on execution of the threat.

    What percentage of the sport do you consider Ferrari to be a part of (25, 50, 100%….)? I would say somewhere under 50%, probably closer to 25. It seems Ferrari think they are in the 75+ range and that is what most fans, Ferrari fans or not, that are in the ‘door’ camp do not like. It’s very smug and self-defeating.

    I haven’t seen Sergio (or anyone else against the rules) detail what it is specifically he doesn’t agree with in other than vague terms. I don’t see the rules as presented (which were also vague to begin with) as limiting technological development. What is it ‘specifically’ that Sergio does not like? If we were 1 to 2 years into negotiations and he wanted to play the quit card then I could see it as a substantial threat, it is simply too early with not enough solid information to start those types of plays.

    This, “We have doubled the efforts to find a solution with Chase”, is where he should be concentrating his efforts on and keep his threats out of the public domain. Put up some counter proposals and let’s get this thing sorted like gentleman in charge of great empires not school play-ground style!

    • Salvu Borg

      What has been pushed out by LM up to now as regards the 2021 PU is all about limiting technological development.

      • subcritical71

        You proved my point, the arguments to this point have been nothing but generalizations. What specifically are the team’s upset with that is preventing technological development in the ‘proposed’ regulations? Which proposals are good and don’t need to be discussed further? Which ones need compromise? Which ones are a definite no-go, even with compromises?

        I’ll start…
        1) 1.6 Litre, V6 Turbo Hybrid -> Build what you want, just make it 6 cylinders and 1.6 liter, with a turbo and hybrid. Seems fair and very open to development and could be argued as road car relevant in the short term until full EV is the norm.

        2) 3000 rpm higher engine running speed range to improve the sound -> Wow, another 3,000 rpm, let’s develop the hell out of this so that we can actually use this additional rpm -> get more heat energy out of the fuel -> better thermal efficiency -> great technological achievement -> encourages development. And as NC would point out… it’s sound when you want to make it positive and noise when you want to make it negative…. Lets not make the sound artificial (microphones) for the at home TV viewers – PLEASE!

        3) Prescriptive internal design parameters to restrict development costs and discourage extreme designs and running conditions -> It really depends on what this really means, but F1 engineers are really good at exploiting loopholes (double diffuser, shark fin, f-duct, t-wing, monkey seat, j-damper, FRIC, oiling, etc, etc, etc), I don’t see this being a long term issue -> encourages development.

        4) Removal of the MGUH -> This is at the moment is only race relevant, but long term electrification will be complete electrification (ie. Tesla) and MGUH will not longer be relevant -> I know I for one wouldn’t want one of these on my ICE car. It’s too complicated and why does a road car need the turbo already spooled at ideal rpm? Turbo lag these days is not what it used to be and there are other means of accomplishing this without the expense. Seems like a waste of energy for a what-if scenario in a road car -> if this is a sticking point the teams need to discuss it.

        5) More powerful MGUK with focus on manual driver deployment in race together with option to save up energy over several laps to give a driver controlled tactical element to racing -> Great, more power but manual driver deployment… I like both ideas. It wasn’t but a few years ago that KERS was deployed manually also… Get rid of DRS and only allow the MGUK deployment (within prescribed limitations on amount of energy per lap, or laps… like the F-U button in indycar) and lets see some real racing!

        6) Single turbo with dimensional constraints and weight limits -> Ok, that’s great, let’s make it the most efficient turbo out there – gains can be made here still with some innovation. This shouldn’t be seen as a development limitation. There are no dimensions specified so let have the team’s iron that out.

        7) Standard energy store and control electronics -> Who was really making their own ES and CE… anyone? I bet it is a partner, which may be why a team is against this idea, unless of course it’s their partner that gets picked -> As long as the CE are fully customizable like the ECU this seems great. Teams still have wildly varying ECU configurations so as long as they are not limiting the deployment strategy of the CE great development can be done here.

        8) High Level of external prescriptive design to give ‘Plug-And-Play’ engine/chassis/transmission swap capability -> I’m sure this rule is being sought after so engine manufacturers cannot hold the grid hostage with their engine supply. The cost to do a mid-season engine swap today would be incredible. Make the engine/transmission mounting points universal and non-manufacturer teams can have a fighting chance in negotiations. I don’t see anything technologically limiting here that can’t be overcome with some development.

        9) Intention to investigate tighter fuel regulations and limits on number of fuels used -> “Intention to investigate’ -> This isn’t a rule, it’s a we’ll think about it. And what does it mean… tighter specs to what is available to road cars or is it a limit on fuel usage -> limits on changes to fuel over the course of the season or number of suppliers -> on the surface those don’t seem so bad.

        • You’re right in that generalizations are all we’re hearing about but perhaps there are much more detailed discussions between Sergio and Chase that we just don’t know about?

          • subcritical71

            Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping. These are big boys running big companies with more money on the line then I will ever see. I guess there will always be a posturing side to it as well as a ‘behind the scenes’ side to it. I hope cooler heads prevail as what is being said publicly seems to be over the top at the moment. I’m sure there is agreement with the majority of the points with a few tweaks being what needs to be hashed out. Even at this point the tweaks could be major but we have at least until early 2020 before teams will want things completely ironed out.

            Hit them hard with the worst case and settle for midway and everyone looks like they came out ahead in the deal!

        • Salvu Borg

          The aim/scope behind the points pushed out up to now by LM as regards the 2021 PU are 100% intended to arrest/limit the PU technical advancements/developments, not only that, but plus drastically reducing what has been achieved.
          And, any present power unit out of the four being produced can be bolted direct to any of the present chassis, so goes for any of the present gearboxes, can be bolted directly to any of the present power units. these mounting bolts patterns have been standardized since the 2.4l NA V8.

  • Salvu Borg

    As I said elsewhere on here, history shows that every time FERRARI threatened to quit the other side backed-off. All we have to do is wait and see what will happen this time round,
    I was one of the first to state on here that what LM has pushed out up to now as regards the 2021 power unit is just one part of LM’S power struggle the aim of which is to be able to milk the system as best they could. But up to this point we can only talk about what LM has pushed out so far, and that is the 2021 PU.
    What Marchoinne doesn’t agree with as regards the PU is that as FERRARI reputation, their entire identity is based on the fact that they build their own engines and their own cars, and it’s in their DNA, any attempt to standardize engines or significantly diminish FERRARI’S ability to distinguish itself as a team that builds it all in house will be met with FERRARI not playing ball, and make no mistake, he is deadly serous, because it is not just why they are in F1, it’s why they exist.

  • peter riva

    oh, good God. How many more problems are they going to face us with? We must not lose Ferrari. Or Alfa (which was darned good news).

  • Tom Firth

    Marchionne had no option but to go back to the press and say we are serious about our quit threat, right? Given that after the Alfa Romeo announcement, the view of most of the F1 press was that Ferrari’s threat was an empty threat because of the increased commitment from sister company FCA?

    If he’d kept quiet, the press and Liberty would have considered that to be the truth of the matter. Reiterating the threat, simply puts Ferrari back in the bargaining position for 2021?

    • Salvu Borg

      Agree, that was what I thought Carry and Totd believed when they promptly went to the Alfa/Sauber presentation, in fact LM’S present pet (the spiceman) was the fastest of the lot going out and spelling just that. and that is why Marchionne wanted them right in front of him to repeat to their face and remind them that his quit threat still holds.

  • Paul KieferJr

    Do not let the inmates run the asylum! ASSERT YOUR AUTHOR-A-TAY!!! :P

    • subcritical71

      I swear, and this is not an insult in case you are not one, but I swear your an ex-navy nuke! Any chance of that?

      • Paul KieferJr

        Not quite. Air Force brat. Several generations in military or civilian service, all the way back to the US Revolution. Late grandfather was Army Air Corps in WW2. I probably got it from him.

  • Wahoo

    Maybe he should focus on bringing reliability and engineering to Chrysler and Fiat….