Ferrari could still leave F1 in 2020, according to the car maker's president Sergio Marchionne.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says the threat to pull his team out of Formula 1 after 2020 is no less serious, despite his decision to bring the Alfa Romeo name back to grand prix racing. Marchionne gave the green light last week for Alfa Romeo to become title sponsor of the Sauber team, in a commercial deal that includes technical cooperation between the Swiss team and the Italian car manufacturer.
The move by Marchionne to show his faith in the F1 brand has raised some eyebrows, however, because it came just a few weeks after he had threatened to leave the sport if engine rules are dumbed down too much. Speaking at the launch event for the Alfa Romeo return at the weekend, where Marchionne met F1 chairman Chase Carey, he insisted that concerns about the direction the sport was heading in had not changed at all.
And, while confirming that efforts were being ramped up to try to find a solution that would keep Ferrari happy to commit to F1 longer term, he said that the car manufacturer could not accept certain rule changes. 'We have a dialogue that is evolving, and we still have some time to find points of contact between our differences,' he explained.
'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.'
Budget cap doubts
As well as concerns about simpler engines, Marchionne has also expressed doubts about plans to bring a budget cap into F1. Liberty Media is planning to sit down with teams this winter to discuss the concept in detail, but Marchionne is not convinced that it can be effectively policed.
'I'm the first to want to reduce expenses, because it is a sport that knows no bounds,' he said. 'But trying to manage a budget cap is almost impossible. We, for example, have a number of people of the GT programme that at times also operate in the context of Formula 1, so it is almost impossible to control the management of staff.'