‘Sport not spectacle’: Ferrari warn of F1 pullout

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Rome – Ferrari warned on Friday that they would not hestitate to pull the plug on Formula One if the world championship became more like “Nascar”, insisting they cherish sport, not “spectacle”.

“If F1 becomes more of a spectacle than a sport, if we go in the direction of Nascar races (in the United States), then Ferrari will leave,” Ferrari chief executive Sergio Marchionne told a shareholders’ meeting in Amsterdam, as quoted by Italian media.

“If there are any proposals that distort F1, I think Ferrari will pull out… we are working with Liberty Media to find acceptable solutions.”

Last week on the sidelines of the Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 owners Liberty Media set out a five-point blueprint for the future of the sport – control of budgets and revenues, a new structure for governance, sporting and technical rules, engines, and overall costs.

The budget cap of around $150 million, and which may cause Ferrari to consider their commitment to the sport, is due to be introduced as part of the package from 2021.

“We had a proposal from Liberty 10 days ago, we expect to know the details and then we will make choices in the interest of Ferrari,” said Marchionne on Friday.

“We could look for alternative solutions, it’s not a threat, but it does not mean we stop shopping,” he added, referring to “limited interest” in the Formula E series.

“Some people want a less technological approach, but we and Mercedes have the will to maintain a high standard.”

When the Liberty plan was put to team owners in Bahrain, world champions Mercedes said it was a “good starting point, but more details are needed”.

Williams boss Claire Williams, however, declared she felt it was “time to crack open the champagne” for a plan which also promises a fairer distribution of income from top to bottom of the grid.

“I think I am taking a positive view because now we know what Liberty’s vision for the future is – and it is a good starting point,” said Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff.

Wolff said Mercedes’ budget was “more around $250 million” and a compromise was needed.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said he hoped to see the plan finalised within “a couple of months”.

“The bottom line is this is going to have a much bigger effect on three or four teams running at the front of the grid,” he said.

“The guys from P4 downwards are potentially going to get a lot of upside. So you should see some fairly happy faces down that end of the paddock.”

Williams was one of the happiest.

“I came back thinking let’s crack open some champagne. Personally, I’m delighted at the proposals they laid down,” said the Williams chief.

“It was an extremely good day for a team like ours.

“I’m sure some people aren’t going to be very happy. There’s always going to be winners and losers in this situation. Sometimes it’s about compromise if we’re to protect the future health of this sport.

“If we can get these new regulations then I know that Williams’ future is safe.”

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