Towards the new F1: Sergio Marchionne puts Ferrari’s cards on the table
Innovation
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Oct 2017   |  6:04 pm GMT  |  116 comments

Sometimes you can see moments of history approaching. As we head towards two important dates for the future shape of the sport – the October 31 future engines meeting and the November 7 teams meeting where the new plan for F1 will be revealed by Liberty Media – there comes the inevitable positioning, led by Ferrari.

This is the first crunch moment in Sergio Marchionne’s tenure at the helm of Ferrari. And as in the past when Enzo Ferrari, or successors Luca di Montezemolo or Jean Todt spoke for the Scuderia – he says essentially that Ferrari is F1 and vice versa but that it won’t write the sport a blank cheque.

Speaking to the Italian edition of Motorsport.com at the Ferrari Mondiali event in Mugello, Marchionne says that if Liberty messes around with the DNA of F1 then Ferrari will no longer be interested in participating.


It’s not just about the money

“I confirmed two obligations [to Liberty at a meeting in Austin last week],” said Marchionne.

“Like them, we want to reduce the costs of F1 which are beyond the limit. And that’s not because of technical choices but because of the way the sport is managed.

“We will do everything to reduce the costs of competing. And that will help the sport.

“But the most important thing: to change the nature of F1 for commercial reasons is a discussion that doesn’t interest Ferrari. We have to be very careful not to take away history from the DNA of this sport; that’s what interests Ferrari.

If these two things are missing, then Ferrari’s interest in staying in F1 will diminish.”

So far in all his pronouncements on F1 leading up to these crunch meetings, where Liberty will reveal their plans for F1 post 2021, CEO Chase Carey has emphasised the importance of getting the costs under control and making the F1 teams sustainable businesses. And he has underlined the value of its history. American sports owners always value history.

But the key will be whether they value the history that Ferrari represents to the tune of $100m a year surplus to what the teams receive in appearance and prize money. Bernie Ecclestone and CVC put that value on Ferrari; Liberty needs to find a way to make Ferrari feel valued but to level the playing field a bit. How they tackle that will be one of the key moves of this coming phase.

“This isn’t a threat,” Marchionne continues. He referenced comments in Gazzetta dello Sport by Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene which some have interpreted as a threat. Marchionne says he will protect Ferrari’s involvement in the sport, “but not at any cost.”

“I’m open for any discussion, but if they want to turn F1 into a nonsense, a shppping channel, then I’m not the slightest bit interested.

“There is a very noble aspect to F1 beyond the things that happen on track; it’s a sport which is truly different from the others and we can’t over commercialise it. If they do that, we are off; no interest.”


The F1 of the future

You don’t need to be an expert in political theory to understand this messaging. Marchionne repeats his core message about the things Ferrari is not interested in. Unusually for the build up to a major meeting, featuring the reveal of a new F1, there has been little gossip about what is on the table from Liberty’s side. That reflects their style and approach. It’s not divide and rule, as in the past, in fact it’s the opposite. They want to try to treat all their ‘family members’ the same, as much as possible.

That’s a bit of a problem for Ferrari and Mercedes, because they feel they bring far more to the table than Sauber or Force India. While Ferrari and Mercedes are well aligned with each other, Red Bull are at odds with them. It will be fascinating to see this play out.

We know that the direction of travel on engines is that they will be based on current 1.6 V6 engine, they will be louder, will be higher revving and that will be achieved by means of a higher fuel allowance, up by as much as 20%. They will be simplified with some components of the hybrid system – such as the MGU-H on the turbo, either dispensed with, or standardised.

But Carey and his team have given little away about what the broader rules package and integration of the cost cap might be. Some top teams have a working assumption that the cost cap will be $150m without driver and senior management salaries of marketing, with a glidepath down to that figure over three years.

The next two weeks will be momentous. Stay tuned.

What do you make of Marchionne’s comments? Leave your own comments in the section below

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1

Someone please dress Sergio. Head of Ferrari in the same scrappy sweater all the time ? Almost as bad as the oversized suites of Chase.

2

James can you please do a survey of your readers and find out how many of them truly feel that the Ferrari mystique is strong enough that they are willing to cave in to Ferrari demands and lose the opportunity to make new rules that will create more competition in F1. I really believe that this whole premise that Ferrari is essential to F1 is outdated. I think many of your readers will say good riddance to Ferrari if the trade off is we will have more exciting engines, have better competition throughout the field, and attract new manufacturers such as Porsche and keep RBR and Torro Rosso in F1.

3

Thanks for the suggestion

4

Surely Ferrari race in F1 for FREE: several 100’s of $m in prize funds and ‘the bonus’, + big sponsorships from Marlboro etc. + merch sales.
So leaving F1 ain’t going to happen: all those free 100’s of $m not washing around senior managers bank accounts accounts and supporting Ferrari-town? It’s too good a gravy-train to jump off.

5

I think all parties need to look at horse racing as an example for the future. The hero horse like American Pharoh ( sp?) for instance. Being able within the confines of a very demanding sport to somehow achieve the impossible goal.
That type of elite spirit will help sustain the sport, going forward.

6

Have said it before, but I’ll say it again – go back to 1982 spec – 1000 hp engines, sticky tyres , wide body chassis , and the ONLY aero allowed is a single plane front wing ( for advertising space) and a double plane rear wing with nothing allowed on the chassis in between the wheels . Boom Boom.

7

I don’t think F1 will sustain without Ferrari. I’m pretty sure 50% of whole f1 fan base support Ferrari. People either support a specific driver or Ferrari. There is no Merc supporter, fans love Hamilton, and possibly hate Merc. I’m certain, without Ferrari, f1 will die and formula E will gain popularity.

8

Formula E won’t gain popularity until it’s a good spectacle. It’s a nice little gimmicky gateway into the future.

We’ve had enough negativity based on the sound of the V6’s, I think the whirring of electric motors isn’t going to stir the passion of most motorsport fans like F1 does.

9

Believe it or not F1 did O.K. even before Ferrari started being a team of interest and, surprisingly, Ferrari managed to win races even before receiving 100m$/year only for showing up.
For this sport to have a stable foundation and Future it is important to make it immune to threats from manufacturers and big teams, as Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull – if we skew the advantages to only a couple of teams those will control the sport and the smaller teams will never have a FAIR chance of competing or winning.
Formula E is a marketing exercise, it has limited future to be a successful sport – for now.

10

Ferrari does their usual threatening to leave the sport. It’s like clockwork. How many times have they done this? They have lost my sympathy over the years.
Furthermore, these statement are ultra vague. what does that mean, “turning F1 into a shopping channel?” What do Ferrari and Mercedes want vs Redbull. Very unclear to me.

11

the question is what will Ferrari be without F1?

Their significance is a bit overstated. What will they do when they don’t get their 100 million dollar slice? Go to Le Mans? Which features 1 single main annual event on the calendar?

F1 gives Ferrari week in- week out exposure.

Liberty is in a stronger position. F1 will always be the pinnacle of motor racing, with or without Ferrari.

Formula E is a bigger threat to F1 than Marchionne’s words

12

Correct, Ferrari needs F1 more than F1 needs Ferrari. Ferrari is nothing without F1. If they leave, most of the fans won’t care.

13

I agree. I even think Red Bull are much more important for the show, as they bring through exciting drivers.

14

Anyone going to run out and purchase a Renault hybrid after yesterday’s debacle? This business of giving F1 cars the technology of the passenger cars of tomorrow is rubbish. What’s next from Todt and Liberty – driverless Formula E cars?

15

James, I thought Formula One Management was established because the EU Commission decided that for the FIA to control both the rules and regulations of Formula One and the commercial side was a corrupt structure contrary to EU competition law. Now you and all the other commentators write as though Liberty controls the rules and regulations as well as the commercial side, and your article doesn’t mention the FIA, it’s just Liberty revealing ‘their’ plans.
The FIA has many failings, but it isn’t as bad as it was under previous leadership and at least it isn’t set up with no other aim than to siphon off as much money as possible out of the sport. I don’t think F1 supporters should accept Liberty’s total control as happily as you seem to be doing.

16

Sorry maybe I missed spelling out a presumed step here – Ross and FIA have been in close discussion all along on this.

Any set of rules will be framed by FIA and they will regulate it.

17

I think that for the first time since 1950 Ferrari is not the most important consideration for the future prosperity of F1… that honour now lies with the quiet electric cars increasingly prolific in the world’s major cities via FE.

18

I find myself on Sergio’s side and I did not expect to be saying that. He does not trust Liberty and neither do I. He probably does not believe that a bunch of Johnny-come-latelys should be involved in rule making given that they have goals that will conflict with F1 tradition though some things have already changed beyond what Chapman and Tyrell would recognize. Ironic that Ferrari might now wish to preserve the legacy of the ‘Garagistas’ as Enzo called them! If I am interpreting his comment about “management of the sport” correctly I don’t think that he has a very high opinion of the FIA either and I would be with him on that too! I know he wants to preserver Ferrari’s ‘special status’ and Liberty want to remove it but I think his wider concerns are valid.

19

To me the apposite comment in this article was the comparison of future F1 to a ‘shopping channel’. We have already witnessed the embarrassing debacle at the opening of events in Austin. The ‘razzamatazzification’ of F1.
The endless shots of braying fans shaking banners and flags apparently cued by the camera crew are artificial and tedious in the extreme. F1 is losing its mystery and in danger of becoming a reality TV programme populated drivers who appear to only be valued for their ‘celebrity’ status.
The future under Liberty scares me. But then again perhaps the World turns and the old gits get left behind. I for one am constantly on the cusp of walking away from F1 and no longer plan my weekends around races and after thirty years of never missing a race there are now gaps in my viewing. In fact I have deserted some races before they have even reached half way.
One possible way to cure the current ills is to loosen the reigns a little and move away from the overbearing rules and control so as to allow individuals in design, technological developments and driving skill to rise to the top. Innovation is being stifled by a ‘one size fits all’ mentality. The cars are almost identical and indeed it has been said that without the individual colour schemes it would be almost impossible to tell them apart.
Perhaps Liberty should reinstate in season testing, do away with the engine/gearbox penalties or at least apply them to the team and not the driver, and bring back some excitement. I am no longer in awe of the drivers wrestling a bucking unpredictable fire breathing thouroughbred machine, but I am bored with the computer game pilots pushing buttons.
Comparisons are regularly made to MotoGP and that along with BSB and WSB is where I go to be impressed by skill and heroism, not F1.
Just my opinion of course.

20

I agree with most of your post, some good points here.
One thing I don’t get is your assessment that we are experiencing “The ‘razzamatazzification’ of F1.”.
I would agree with you and find it bothering if it would happen on more places, but _if_done_correctly_, adding to selected few circuits a bit of local flavor, it would only enhance the specific feeling those circuits leave to the fans.
The trouble is for organizers overdoing it and fans overreacting when something is not exactly perfect (as an example they would do well to shorten the driver presentation and to stop using derogatory remarks such as “the torpedo”).

21

As stated, Ferrari should get a bit extra.
NOT $100 million.
And let’s assume for a moment that Ferrari did leave…….really…….where else are they going to advertise their product with F1 ‘s level of exposure.
I suspect FOM know this and Ferrari know they know this and are just scare mongering.
Clearly Sergio seems to think he’s still dealing with Bernie.

22

Super excited for the engine announcement now. I still remember when the V6’s were first announced and the comments on this blog were overwhelmingly negative!

The current PU’s were a great idea but they’ve taken a lot of excitement away from the sport. The horsepower to weight ratio of the cars, especially in race trim, is way down on the V8’s and much below the V10’s and when you combine that with the lack of noise, it’s super disappointing. I read a quote in AMuS back in March/April were Toto Wolff claimed that they wanted to match the V10/Moto GP levels of performance vs weight, and that the current ICE’s would need about 300 more horsepower to do that, which is quite telling.

The most obvious way of solving the issues behind this PU is to up the fuel flow. More fuel, more rev’s and much more power. I want to see drivers like Lewis and Max frightened when they put their foot down on the throttle and the current PU’s don’t do this. I would expect more fuel flow to lead to much more reliability though? It will be interesting to see how many engines will be used each year, although costs could still be kept low with simplified electrical components.

23

I think the longevity of the engines has been quite a technical feat, especially the Mercedes ones!

However, we do have this silly situation where we have guys who are nursing older engines and running down on power to avoid a penalty. That’s not really good for the show…

24

Liberty/FIA should include $given / point tables to show how effective the teams are. It would be nice to see how much RBR/Merc are given per point vs how much extra Ferrari get for less performance..

And all 3 could look on in awe at Force India at the top of the Fiscal eFficiency Statistics table, ffs

Marchioness’s message is clear, despite his cheap swipe at commercialism, ‘give us preferential treatment or we won’t play’. Same old Ferrari – where will they go I wonder, or will they be offered a ‘Ferrari special’ glideslope of their own.

25

Good luck to Liberty fighting the piranha club!

26

Pretty sure that if Ferrari left F1, a new race series would be developed very quickly by Ferrari. Im sure that would make a lot of current F1 teams think about swapping. They have a draw the other teams just don’t have.

27

Please. That’s so old hat it stinks. Who would want to join a series started by Ferrari, in which we can be sure, the rules would be designed to guarantee only Ferrari winning it. And besides, Ferrari, rules, Italians, do not usually work well together in any sentence.

28

Ferrari needs F1 more than F1 needs Ferrari. Sure, Ferrari fanboys will lose interest, but more parity in the sport will attract a new audience.

As a brand and as a part of F1 history I prefer them to stay, but I would not lose interest if they left. I would rather watch a field of Sauber level cars battling it out in intense fights that the current system where only two teams have a shot at the championships.

29

$100 million? Adios, Sergio. Don’t let the doorknob hit ya…

30

End cry baby Ferrari’s stipend and if they bolt, entice another high end manufacturer to enter; Lamborghini, Aston-Martin, Bugatti, etc.

31

If it was me, I’d call Ferrari’s bluff. Honestly I think F1 would survive (and still thrive) without them. They are the biggest stumbling block to parity in this sport.

I also think manufacturers like Mercedes are a pain too. If they aren’t winning then they will just leave the sport.

We need proper teams who have a bit more pure racing spirit, where winning or losing just means that, and not a loss of fizzy drink sales / hyrbid car sales.

32

This is all just code for don’t mess with our $100M, or we are out. I’d call him on his bluff. Where is Ferrari going to go? Formula E? What a joke.

33

I enjoy articles on this site but love the comments…. Where are they?

34

Yawn….Ferrari threaten to leave the sport if they don’t get their own way yet again…..zzzzzzz

35

All those saying that 100M for Ferrari is way too much make me laugh. It is not that Ferrari gets 100M and all the others teams get 0. A part from Haas all the teams get their slice of the pie. Teams like Mercedes, Mc Laren RBR get in the region of 30 to 50 M. So even if they were going to lower Ferrari fee, they will never give them less than 60/70 M. What difference would it makes if those 30/40 millions will be shared by 3/4 teams? not much. For sure Force India or Sauber will not became title contenders with 10 millions more per season.

36

Yes you can yawn because it is not you money on the line, but Liberty Media will stay well awake and listen.

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