By on November 3, 2017

ferrari f1

Ferrari, the company that has participated in every single Formula One championship since its inaugural season in 1950, is threatening to give up the sport if U.S.-based Liberty Media follows through with its new engine rules. Depending on how you like your motorsport, Ferrari is either completely vindicated in its criticisms or overacting like a spoiled child.

Evolving rules are nothing new in Formula One. Changes are often made between seasons to bolster safety or improve competitiveness. But Ferrari NV isn’t interested in what’s to come after F1’s concorde agreement ends in 2020. Liberty Media has been pushing for engine rules that would make powerplants noisier and higher revving but also more uniform between teams. With a focus on a cheaper and simpler engine, F1’s new owner is also expected to suggest revenue caps on teams next week. The end result should be closer races. But that places it at odds with the Italian manufacturer’s goals of winning all the time. 

Formula One also runs the risk of losing some engineering prowess. Aggressively capping development budgets and further standardizing powerplants would make it more like NASCAR, and Ferrari isn’t alone in being opposed to that. Mercedes and Renault have also voiced concerns on the matter, but it is Ferrari’s own sweater-wearing CEO Sergio Marchionne leading the opposition.

While less upset with the idea of budgetary caps, he expressed major concerns over the potential loss of powertrain “uniqueness” during Thursday’s third-quarter conference call.

“Liberty has got a couple of good intentions in all of this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution for the team, which I think is good,” Marchionne explained. “There are a couple of things we don’t necessarily agree with. One of which is the fact that somehow powertrain uniqueness is not going to be one of the drivers of distinctiveness of the participants’ line-up. I would not countenance this going forward.”

“The fact that we now appear to be at odds in terms of the strategic development of this thing, and we see the sport in 2021 taking on a different air, is going to force some decisions on the part of Ferrari,” he continued. “I understand that Liberty may have taken these 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.”

That’s pretty concrete sounding. Currently, Ferrari is so wrapped up in Formula One (and vice versa) that it would be difficult to imagine the sport without it. We will have to see how Liberty Media takes the news and if it changes its tune during next week’s conference. Otherwise, Ferrari might be absent from the 2021 season.

“I don’t want to prejudge any of this,” Marchionne said. “We’re walking into this meeting next Tuesday with the best of intentions. We’ll see where it takes us.”

[Source: Bloomberg] [Image: Ferrari NV]

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33 Comments on “Ferrari Thinks F1 Can Shove Those New Engines, Threatens to Quit...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I don’t know a soul who follows F1. Or Indy. Or NASCAR. Or NHRA. They’re considered pretty remote from the real world.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Unless you drive a car. Some, by no means all, racing technology trickles down to production cars. Some minivans have four disc parks. That used to be considered exotic racing car technology. Ditto fuel injection and electric ignition. Many of the major manufactures build engines for racing series. High-tech, expensive, and limited number engines. Their engineers take notes and pass technology down when they can. After horse racing, yeah I know, motorsports have the largest audience in sports. 500,000 people at the Indy 500’s 100th running shows that a lot of people considered it “real world”.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        Yeah, we’d still be driving cars with logs for wheels and only our feet for propulsion without racing.

        Budgets for production technologies produce the innovations these days, mainly due to regulations. Innovation came from racing back when technology was more primitive. These days, tech trickles up to racing.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Unless you drive a car. Some, by no means all, racing technology trickles down to production cars. Some minivans have four disc parks. That used to be considered exotic racing car technology. Ditto fuel injection and electric ignition.”

        your argument might have carried water in 1980. F1 has gone so far afield that nothing they’ve really done in the past few decades has had any relevance to road cars. I mean, 19,000 rpm 2.4 liter V8s? no one in their right mind would want to drive such a thing on the street. No, Jalops, you wouldn’t. You’d give up the 10th time you stalled the engine just trying to get the car moving.

        and the one bit of technology transfer you could reasonably claim came from F1 (automated manual/dual clutch transmissions) have been mostly a dud for real-world on road driving.

        In all honesty, endurance racing (WEC and IMSA) have the most relevance to on-road automotive technology.

        • 0 avatar
          caltemus

          edit: was wrong

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          You’re looking too short-term. The technology developed for F1 is bleeding edge stuff that can take a decade or more to trickle down to common road cars, if it ever does. But it’s not just the actual components or technologies being used that trickles down to road cars. Sometimes it is the materials science. Sometimes the trickle comes in the form of manufacturing technique or other knowledge/experience.

          For example, both Mercedes and Volvo have been testing prototype cars with KERS-type systems. Mercedes has claimed some advances in their battery technology have come from their use of electric KERS systems, which should trickle down to their hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Because if you don’t know anyone they don’t exist? I can only guess that you live in a northern coastal state. Not a lot of Americans follow F1, but whenever I am flipping channels and happen upon a NASCAR race the stands look pretty full.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I follow F1… I love it from a technical standpoint. The racing is terrible. IRL is where is at.

    “Marchionne stressed Ferrari would not continue to race unless the conditions to do so were favorable, amid speculation the manufacturer could lose its exclusive financial bonus from F1 as part of the restructuring of its income distribution.”

    This is Ferrari’s real worry. Their automatic “bonus cash” for just showing up might be finally get tossed out. More info here:
    https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/129388/formula-1-team-payments-for-2017-revealed

    Time to call their bluff, let ’em leave. It would be very interesting to see just how well Ferrari would do on a level playing field in terms of payments. This is likely the reason Lambo and Porsche steer clear of F1 – everyone knows the fix is in. The red cars automatically get extra money. This is why the small teams struggle at the back, even when they bet Ferrari they get less money.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Ferrari always throws a snit, then threatens to take their marbles and go home. Standard negotiating procedure, move along, nothing to see here.

    • 0 avatar
      dougjp

      Sweater baby been watching too much Trump.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      I am sure I heard the same things said by di Montezemolo too.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      No, this time others are unhappy too.
      “Wolff said he was “surprised” that the FIA had published so much detail on the new engine when the manufacturers had been told in a meeting on the same day that the plans were “a proposal of a vision for 2021” that would be subject to further discussion and refinement at F1’s various rule-making entities.
      He added: “It portrays it in a way of this is how we’re going forward and none of the current OEMs (car manufacturers in F1) was particularly impressed.”
      He said the proposals as published would mean “developing a new engine concept that will trigger immense costs” for the car manufacturers in F1 – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – “just for the sake of having a new concept”.
      http://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/41833948

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        Thanks for reiterating this, and it needs repeated. Renault and Mercedes are also both unhappy with the new engine rules, the only difference is that neither of them have threatened to quit the sport…yet. But I assure you, neither one of them are interested in giving up the advantages that they have with the engines that they have developed. Look back at the championship winners, and the last time one of those three haven’t been the championship winning engine was in 1994 when Schumacher won it in a Ford-powered Benetton.

        If you want spec racing, we already have that in numerous lesser formulae. If you want the pinnacle of racing technology, you need F1 to be F1, and you need manufacturers pouring hundreds of millions into it.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I follow it, but I prefer Grand-AM sports car racing. I was able to attend my first F1 race in Montreal in 2015, with a neighbor friend who grew up a stone’s throw from Silverstone. We were both disappointed by the sound of the cars in real life. After a qualifying session we both made it a promise not to miss the Legends race which was aurally spectacular.

    Ferrari had no chance of winning a single race that year and judging by the number of fans wearing red, the sport would take a huge hit in viewership. So if you think that the Sweater Dude doesn’t carry a big stick you’re mistaken.

    It’s ironic that Ferrari is so outspoken ,as they can’t seem to get their “power unit” to be as competitive as MB.

    I agree with Redbull ‘s Horn , in that a return to a NA based powerplant would help with competition and viewer satisfaction.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    In a seance in Grosse Point Billy Ford will summon the ghost of Hank the Deuce. The Deuce will tell him to go into partnership with Gene Haas and “kick Ferrari’s ass”.

  • avatar
    MBella

    The reason the current engines don’t scream like their predecessors is the limited fuel flow rate. Let’s uncork this. Use the same hybrids they have now, but let them turn them up.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Kind of like soccer which is worldwide popular except in the US, F1 remains very popular around the world. Who cares what Americans think, beyond Americans?

    Liberty Media, with all the brains of a NASCAR, wants a series of uniformity. Read Autoextremist to see how well NASCAR’s doing attendance-wise these days. It ain’t.

    Still, with Liberty Media run by a reclusive US billionaire who considers himself a genius, as they all do being on a different genetic plane from mere mortals, we can expect an uninformed take on F1. He made one of the Murdoch minions new chairman of Formula 1, Chase Carey, executive vice chairman of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Yeah, that’ll do it and make things all right.

    The US is a highly parochial market, F1 is worldwide. The BBC take on this possible engine change rule can be read here:

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/41857101

    if anyone’s interested. I imagine most will blunder on regardless.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    F1 is such a contrived a spectacle already it’s hard to imagine this making a difference. I’d like to see Formula E get more attention. F the stupid combustion explosion racket.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      The two things which to me best demonstrate how completely F1 has given up being about racing:

      The obsession with noise, and

      The installation of sparklers on the undersides of the cars.

      Bonus item: Singapore, which is always sung to the heavens as awesome, but which has never produced a decent race. Or even managed to be run as a single race rather than a series of stages.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Matt, I will explain this by just slightly misquoting you:

    “Ferrari is completely vindicated in its criticisms AND overacting like a spoiled child.”

    It’s racing, so it’s posturing in an attempt to gain an advantage. See Smokey Yunick for possibly the best example ever.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Nothing would improve F1 more than the departure of Ferrari. I detest that team, and the insane favoritism it gets. When it succeeds, it’s not because it’s a good team. It’s because an outsider (or three) shows up and manages to force it to stop being Ferrari and start acting like a real race team for a while. Then they move on, and it spirals down the toilet like it always does until the next outsider ahows up and kicks their asses into line again.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      I’m totally with you on hating Ferrari for those same reasons. But face it: F1 is Ferrari, and Ferrari is F1, and F1 is mostly a political skirmish about how best to launder Ferrari’s oil and tobacco money, with a bit of glamorous racing thrown in. You’ve got to learn to LOVE to hate the whole circus, along with the evil geniuses pervy Mosley, greedy Bernie, slimy Todt, etc., and in addition appreciate the driving talent and their struggles to play the musical chairs game of getting into the right car. There’s something in F1 for everyone!

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Liberty Media, please sell F1 and get some bullpen help for my Braves and a power hitting outfielder. Thank You. Better yet, sell the Braves and invest the money into screwing up F1 as you have my beloved Braves for the last decade or so. I’d rather you sell the team to the Madoff family, you suck that bad.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    The only things I find fascinating in F1 right now are the front wings and how the power units can produce 50% thermal efficiency.
    The rest is too contrived and elitist. I guess that’s just show biz.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    SOP for Ferrari. Liberty is doing far more and better than Bernie was doing the last few years. But, Ferrari knows it is the only team with name recognition among non racing fans. So, they will leverage that as much as possible and it’s worked of course. However, With Liberty they’re dealing with a whole different culture. A budget cap is likely all that’s needed to shake up the on track competition.


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