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 Ferrari to quit if 2010 rules don't change

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PostSubject: Ferrari to quit if 2010 rules don''t change   Tue 12 May 2009 - 14:36

Ferrari has delivered a stark warning to the FIA that it will quit Formula 1 in 2010 if the £40 million budget cap comes into force as planned.

The sport’s most iconic and successful team has been at loggerheads with the governing body since the optional cap was ratified earlier this month, with its president Luca di Montezemolo branding the regulation unworkable and likely to create a two-tier championship.

Now following a board meeting at its Maranello base on Tuesday, Ferrari has upped the stakes in the teams’ stand-off by joining Toyota and Red Bull in threatening to walk away from the sport at the end of the season if the 2010 rules stand.

“The Board considers that if this [the optional budget cap] is the regulatory framework for Formula 1 in the future, then the reasons underlying Ferrari’s uninterrupted participation in the World Championship over the last 60 years – the only constructor to have taken part ever since its inception in 1950 – would come to a close,” a statement issued following the meeting said.

“The same rules for all teams, stability of regulations, the continuity of the FOTA’s endeavours to methodically and progressively reduce costs, and governance of Formula 1 are the priorities for the future.

“If these indispensable principles are not respected and if the regulations adopted for 2010 will not change, then Ferrari does not intend to enter its cars in the next Formula 1 World Championship.”

While a number of teams have been open to the idea of a budget cap for some time as a means of bringing costs in the sport firmly under control, the Formula One Teams’ Association has expressed its anger at the unilateral way the cap has been introduced and the way in which it will function.

Teams have been presented with the option of either running under the cap in exchange for technical freedoms or continuing to spend freely but within the current rules constraints.

The FIA has set a May 29 deadline on squads to sign up to the 2010 season, with their entries to state whether or not they will run under the cap.

However, the FOTA teams think the two rules will create a two-tier championship in the sport, thus damaging F1’s image, and senior figures such as Williams’s Patrick Head believe the technical freedoms of running within the cap will be so great that squads outside it will never be able to bridge the gap.

Ferrari, currently one of the sport’s biggest spending outfits, said it had been dismayed at the way in which the FIA had gone about implementing the cap, claiming the governing body has also bypassed its agreement with the Scuderia over rules stability.

“The Board also expressed its disappointment about the methods adopted by the FIA in taking decisions of such a serious nature and its refusal to effectively reach an understanding with constructors and teams,” he said.

“The rules of governance that have contributed to the development of Formula 1 over the last 25 years have been disregarded, as have the binding contractual obligations between Ferrari and the FIA itself regarding the stability of the regulations.

Ferrari has been the only team to compete in every season of the world championship since its inception since 1950, with the Italian squad holding the majority of records including most race victories, pole positions and drivers’ and constructors’ crowns.

The Italian squad’s statement concluded by appealing to its fans to understand the reason for its threat to quit the sport, adding that Montezemolo was charged with finding alternative avenues for its motorsport involvement.

“Ferrari trusts that its many fans worldwide will understand that this difficult decision is coherent with the Scuderia’s approach to motor sport and to Formula 1 in particular, always seeking to promote its sporting and technical values,” the statement added.

“The Chairman of the Board of Directors was mandated to evaluate the most suitable ways and methods to protect the company’s interests."

After the World Motor Sport Council passed a revised version of the FIA’s budget cap last month – which raised the limit by £10m and excluded drivers salaries and marketing costs – Montezemolo wrote to FIA president Max Mosley expressing his displeasure with the plans.

Mosley responded by saying that while it would be sad if F1 lost Ferrari, it would not be a fatal blow.

“The sport could survive without Ferrari,” Mosley told the Financial Times.

“It would be very, very sad to lose Ferrari.

"It is the Italian national team.”

The sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, however, said he would intervene to ensure the row between the two parties didn’t get out of hand and, speaking on Tuesday, said he was sure it wouldn’t get to the stage where the Italian marque walked away.

“Ferrari are not stupid,” Ecclestone told The Times.

“They don’t want to leave Formula 1 and we don’t want to lose them, so we’ll get to grips with it.”
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