Marchionne gets tough: ‘Don’t call my bluff!’
Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne says doubters are wrong to call his bluff, insisting anyone who doesn’t take his quits threats seriously is “playing with fire”.
After reviewing last month the broad lines of Formula 1’s proposed 2021 regulation platform, Marchionne issued a quit threat, saying he would not hesitate to pull Ferrari out of Grand Prix racing if its interests were no longer in line with those of the sport.
Ferrari has occasionally threatened to wreak havoc on the sport in the past, but without ever following through. Pundits believe Marchionne’s warning is just more of the same, but the Fiat Chrysler boss says he is dead serious.
“Some people say that our threat about the 2020/2021 regulations is a bluff, but they’re playing with fire,” said the 65-year-old manager on Monday, at Ferrari’s annual Christmas media dinner.
“The situation has changed since 2015. Starting from that moment, everyone knows that if we threaten to do something, we do it.
“One of the greatest advantages is that the current Concorde Agreement [between teams and F1] is very different from previous ones and ensures a greater contractual freedom, even during the agreement with Liberty Media.
“The previous contract made it impossible for the team to evaluate an alternative outside of the circus. Now we can analyse the possibility to create something similar to Formula 1 in terms of a show.”
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Marchionne’s main bone of contention is with F1’s efforts to simplify the sport’s regulation platform by removing a degree of sophistication in order to reduce costs and attract independant engine manufacturers.
“The main thing that bothers me is that inside Liberty Media there is a person with great experience in F1, which is Ross Brawn, who is trying to give a direction that is not in the DNA of the sport,” he added.
“We have been part of F1’s history, so we understand bullshit and we understand F1. We have a race department that works only on F1, so we know F1 well.
“We have to try to balance [Liberty’s] interests with ours, but I think that we can arrive to that in time to avoid Ferrari’s exit from Formula 1.”
Should the legendary manufacture remain at odds however with Formula 1’s managers, Marchionne believes a rival series could easily be set up, if the teams pull together to make it happen.
“There is the possibility to create an alternative championship from 2020/2021,” he said. “We can’t ignore this possibility, but I prefer avoid it if we can.
“I would like to continue with Formula 1, but we have to find compromises that don’t leave Ferrari without the possibility of showing its DNA in every race.
“If we can’t find that, then Ferrari has to go away. If Ferrari can pull out other teams, we have to see it from an economical point of view, but I think that we are able to do it.”
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