Marchionne insists Ferrari are “not bluffing” but says “priority” is to stay beyond 2020; Ferrari boss also takes issue with Ross Brawn

Ferrari have ratcheted up their threat to quit F1 with Sergio Marchionne saying a post-2020 “divorce” could be followed by the sport’s most famous team racing in a rival championship.

In the Scuderia president’s annual media Christmas lunch, Marchionne also criticised legendary former Ferrari technical boss Ross Brawn, now F1’s sporting chief, for formulating new rules which go against the “DNA of Formula 1”.

Ferrari are opposed to plans to simplify engine technology and introduce some standard parts from 2021.

“We are not bluffing and I would not try to test the theory,” he told Italian media, including Sky Sports in Italy.

“If they continue on the path of wanting to turn F1 into NASCAR, with cars all the same, there could be a divorce. If they decide to make us all the same we will go in three seconds, but that’s not what we want.”

Although Marchionne says finding agreement to stay in F1 is his “priority”, Marchionne also floated the spectre of Ferrari, the only team to compete in F1 since the world championship’s inaugural year of 1950, racing elsewhere.

“The conditions for thinking about an alternative championship from 2021 would be there, but, I repeat, that’s not our goal,” he added.

Despite opposition to the engine proposals put forward by Liberty Media and governing body the FIA, Marchionne said he would give the sport’s new owners a “mark which is sufficient” for their first year in charge.

However, he expressed unhappiness with Brawn’s vision for F1.

“The thing that most annoys me is that there is an experienced man like Ross Brawn there who is looking for ways that go against the DNA of Formula 1,” he said.

Following months of discussions between the sport’s current stakeholders and prospective 2021 engine suppliers, a blueprint for future regulations was revealed in November.

However, both the detail and manner of the move were swiftly criticised by the sport’s three leading manufacturers, with Mercedes and Renault joining Ferrari in expressing concerns.

Further discussions are set to follow in 2018 before the engine rules are formalised, while talks are also set to start next year over F1’s payment structure – of which Ferrari’s controversial $100m annual bonus payment is likely to prove a bone of contention as Liberty attempt to level the sport’s financial playing field.

Marchionne believes the sport’s priority should be to improve the spectacle.

“You could work more on the show, perhaps a better choice of circuits, using more DRS, generating more uncertainty, unpredictability and overtaking,” he added.

F1’s 2021 engine plans at a glance

  • The 2021 power unit to be a 1.6 Litre, V6 Turbo Hybrid
  • 3000rpm higher engine running speed range to improve the sound
  • Prescriptive internal design parameters to restrict development costs and discourage extreme designs and running conditions
  • Removal of the MGU-H
  • More powerful MGU-K 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
  • Single turbo with dimensional constraints and weight limits
  • Standard energy store and control electronics
  • High Level of external prescriptive design to give ‘Plug-And-Play’ engine/chassis/transmission swap capability
  • Intention to investigate tighter fuel regulations and limits on number of fuels used

Source: Sky Sports F1

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