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Ferrari threatens to quit Formula 1 over new proposals by Liberty Media

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has said the team could quit Formula 1 if they do not approve of the direction taken by new owners Liberty Media.

The Ferrari chief pinpointed proposals for a new engine design from 2021 as he made the threat in a conference call with investors.

Marchionne said F1 had been “part of our DNA since the day we were born”.

But he added: “If we change the sandbox to the point it becomes unrecognisable, I don’t want to play any more.”

His concerns follow objections from both Mercedes and Renault over plans for a new engine design that were presented jointly on Tuesday by governing body the FIA and the F1 Group, which was bought by Liberty earlier this year.

They set a confrontational tone for the major meeting on 7 November of F1’s strategy group, which includes the FIA, F1 and the six leading teams.

Liberty is expected to outline further details of its plans for the sport, including how to instigate a budget cap.

Marchionne said: “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.

“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 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.

“I understand Liberty may have taken these into account, but 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.”

Marchionne likened some of Liberty’s ideas to those witnessed in the American Nascar stock-car racing series, which effectively uses standard cars and employs a number of artificial means to keep racing close.

He said: “I don’t want to play Nascar globally, I just don’t.”

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

The new engine rules retain the architecture of the current engine as a 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid but make significant changes, including introducing standardisation of some parts and removing the MGU-H, the part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo and which is responsible for about 60% of the total hybrid energy.

Both Mercedes and Renault have said the proposals amount to a new engine, which would force a major development and financial investment.

Liberty/F1 wants to make engines cheaper, more simple, noisier, enable independent companies to enter the sport and make them more attractive to fans.

It is believed to be willing to listen to other ideas on the design of the engine post-2020, as long as they meet those fundamental objectives.

Like most other teams, Ferrari is committed to F1 contractually until 2020 but has nothing tying it to the sport after that.

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