Marchionne sends Brawn and Carey a different kind of F1 Christmas message
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Dec 2017   |  8:57 am GMT  |  232 comments

Sergio Marchionne, the Ferrari chairman, has sent a strongly worded message via the Italian media to the bosses of F1, that they had better take his threat to pull Ferrari out of Formula 1 seriously, otherwise they are ‘playing with fire’.

He has been increasingly strong on his Ferrari quit threat, based on his unhappiness about what he sees as the dumbing down of F1’s complex hybrid engines and the technical DNA of the sport. He has support. albeit far less vocal – from Mercedes. Marchionne suggested at the Italian media lunch in Maranello on Monday that they may even start their own breakaway series.

Of course the other real issue behind the scenes, is the maintenance or not of Ferrari’s privileges, like the $100m bonus payment, which it is understandably keen to maintain in the post 2020 contract.

There is nothing new in this kind of talk, but dropping the “B” word [Breakaway] has usually proved the point at which the people who bring it up are overplaying their hand. Marchionne has nevertheless placed that particular card on the table now, to get Liberty’s attention and that of its investors.

Marchionne took Ferrari public recently and knows what market and investor sentiment is all about – so here we have one US listed company threatening the long term viability of another.

This time he also got personal – putting F1’s managing director of motorsports, Ross Brawn in the crosshairs.


Brawn, will no doubt remind the chairman, that he was the man whose mastery of F1 technology and the rules in F1 at the time led to Ferrari’s unrivalled period of F1 dominance from 1999 to 2004. Ferrari has yet to get anywhere close to matching that in the modern era.

“The main thing that bothers me is that inside Liberty Media there is a person with great experience in F1, which is Ross Brawn, who is trying to giving a direction that is not in the DNA of the sport,” said Marchionne.

“If the objective is that after 2020 the engines are more simple and the cars all the same, like in NASCAR, then Ferrari will leave Grand Prix racing the next day. Ross goes on TV and gives out commandments like Moses, but then who can go and talk to Moses’ boss (Carey) can also disagree.

“What we are doing here, Mercedes, Renault, Honda and ourselves, in supplying engines to other teams for 15 million euros a year is already a miracle.

“To Brawn I say, ‘What more do you want for that figure?’

“Next year with only three engines per driver for the season the costs increase because of all the work on reliability.

“However I do agree with Liberty that the races are boring with few overtakes, like Abu Dhabi. We need to make them more exciting. It’s the fault of the regulations, which put too many brakes on the engineers’ creativity. You need real freedom to create the cars.

“We have been part of F1’s history, so we understand bullshit and we understand F1.

“We have a race department that works only on F1, so we know F1 well.

“We have to try to balance [Liberty’s] interests with ours, but I think that we can arrive to that in time to avoid Ferrari’s exit from Formula 1.

“But we will have to work at it. If they think we are bluffing then they are playing with fire.”

Do you think Ferrari is bluffing or do you think they would quit F1 if Liberty sticks to its proposed path? Leave your comment in the section below


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1

If one does some research about Marchionne one will get to understand who is speaking.
The point has arrived in F1 where there is no enjoyment. Trying to make the engines make ‘ noise ‘ is not the point. We have been used to ‘ listen ‘ not hear the ‘ sound ‘ of the engines because it gives us info about the performance of the engine. Limiting the revs and other aspects to reduce the performance of the car is not ‘ the blood ‘ of F1. If we keep going like this, we will very soon prefer to watch gocarts! Although Mr. Brawn is an experienced person within the realm of F1, he is still a human being and does mistakes and makes wrong decisions.
If business is all that matters, then, I prefer the Formula 3000!!

2

This is not on topic so apologies, but I thought JAF1 had migrated according to the banner on the landing page, so I clicked on the JAF1/Motorsport logo thingy and I ended up being asked to sign up to “Prime” before I could read anything. Does anyone know what exactly that is and what the implications are? I didn’t see a way to “get under the hood” so I’ve no idea if that’s a paywall or just a registration process. I’m trying to reduce my Internet “footprint” so I’m not going to sign up willy-nilly so-to-speak. It looked interesting though..

3

Sergio beginning to sound desperate that no-one is taking the bait…

4

If a breakaway threat is made in the forest, and no one hears (or cares), does it still make a sound?

5

Ferrari is NOT F1. They are part of a racing series that has seen many teams come and go over the years. Some have lasted longer than others but that is not the point. Every team contributes to the event and the best racing is when every team has the potential to win. It is largely true that success is proportional to budget and as long as the top teams continue to have budgets maintained by an uneven distribution of funds, F1 will never create an environment in which everyone has a fair crack at the whip and a chance of winning some races. If the status quo can be disrupted by Ferrari leaving and allowing £100m to be redistributed more fairly, then so be it. I for one may be more enthused to continue watching closer racing and to hell with the missing red cars.

6

It’s obviously not a threat, we are talking about 100mil here. If Ferrari where to lose this money then their F1 project would disintegrate. They rely on it to be in the sport.

7

This threat means a lot. It is not just because of engine rules its all about the 100 millions $, if Liberty media change both of the things, Ferrari will consider its presence. I am pretty sure Merc will take the same path.

8

Ok Ferrari, let’s talk about the ‘B’ word.

Ferrari’s take on the rules would be a free for all hitech approach which we know is hugely expensive and only attainable by major manufacturers. Past experience proves that the need for a team to spend exponentially (ie. hundreds of millions of dollars per annum over the long term) in order to be competitive at the pointy end of the field, is massively unappealing to boards and shareholders alike. Also, why would a current mid-field team like Williams or Force India be even slightly interested? The cost would be out of their league.

So in Ferrari’s hypothetical breakaway series, apart from Ferrari and perhaps Mercedes, let’s say we end up with a bunch of new manufacturers like Aston Martin and Porsche fielding their own teams (assuming teams like Renault, Williams, Force India and even Red Bull don’t come along for the ride) to attempt to have reasonable sized grid! Oops .. we would also need Audi, GM and Toyota to get to 20 or more cars! Good luck attracting all of those.

Remember Toyota’s last experience and the cash they blew. Remember Honda’s last disaster in attempting to run a team (and the $ they blew)? I’m sure both of those corporates would be all for shoring up a Ferrari breakaway! Get your blank cheques ready boys!

So as Martin Brundle said at the end of the season when the question of Ferrari leaving came up… let them go!

Ferrari receives far more (hundreds of millions) than any other team to fund their two cars going around. If they would like to forgo that because they believe they have a far better global brand awareness strategy, then goodbye and good luck!

As fans we want a more affordable, closer contest with perhaps even 30 cars going around. A spectacle where the driver makes a bigger difference and the points of technical and mechanical differentiation are minimal and the competition is fierce.

Marchionne is full of bullsh*t… to use his own words!

9

Brundle doesn’t care if anyones watching F1.That’s why he went to sky.

10

If Ferrari went, the sport would go on.

F1 is bigger than Ferrari.

Paying them to race and trying to fix things for them for decades is more corrupt than any FIFA nonsense we’ve read about.

It’s time they stopped paying any of the teams to race and the biggest leech is Ferrari.

Predicatably, Liberty will cave and probably increase their payment to the Italian team, further widening the gap between them and the independents.

What I found most astonishing was MB’s comment that Ecclestone needes to prove his allegations of Ferrari fixing.

We all know it’s happened since at least the 1970s and to my mind, the sport needs a clean break from its crooked past.

Of course, money talks, so it will just go on.

11

I guess your attitude to this may depend on when you became a fan of F1. For me, throughout the ‘80s, Ferrari was not a top F1 team and I’ve always viewed them as dispensable. We had McLaren, Williams, Lotus, Renault, Brabham, and I couldn’t have cared less whether Ferrari had turned up to race or not – they weren’t really a major competitor, although apparently they did win sometimes in the ‘70s. If Ferrari had left F1, which they ultimately did in endurance racing after too much humiliation by Porsche, I don’t think most of the fans would have noticed or cared.

But if you are a Ferrari fan and came to the sport during the mid-‘90s Brawn era then you would no doubt feel very differently. I get that Ferrari has a lot of passionate fans.

Ultimately F1 is Ferrari’s primary branding and marketing channel. If Ferrari was not in a top-line motorsport then it’s brand as a prestige sportscar manufacturer would diminish. There was a time when Jaguar, Bentley, Alfa Romeo were top grand prix manufacturers, but they stopped and within a few decades they no longer had the credibility to sell top end sportscars. It happened to Mercedes too after they exited motorsport in the 1950s. It will happen to Ferrari, once a new generation grows up with no reason to associate Ferrari with racing cars.

All of which is why I believe Ferrari needs to be in F1, but it is irrelevant to the viability of F1 whether Ferrari is there or not. A few fans would turn off but the rest would quickly adjust to the new F1 order. Just look at how fast people got behind Red Bull in F1 and how many Red Bull shirts you see at F1 races.

12

Ferrari had won Le Mans 9 times by 1973 when they withdrew from sports car racing. Porsche at the time had won twice…

John Surtees was quoted as saying that the F1 team didn’t receive any real funding until June after the Le Mans race had been run. Therefore from 1973 onwards the Maranello concern focused on F1.

Given that prices of these sports car racers run in to the tens of millions now and are the underpinnings of Ferrari’s legacy, it’s erroneous to suggest Porsche dominated Ferrari.

After all, Ferrari is recognised by Americans for this era not for their F1 success.

As to the Red Bull comment, Ferrari’s merchandising sales dwarf everybody else despite a lack of contemporary success and as I’ve stated previously, I don’t see any other super car manufacturer struggling for sales despite lack of F1 presence. Even McLaren with their disastrous campaigns recently have little trouble selling cars to the non F1 public

13

You make an interesting point in your first two paragraphs. Thanks for sharing your view

14

163 comments?
Ferrari owner for 30 years –
Who gives a damn if the want to leave –
They MIGHT be able to take MB with them, but Renault & their teams? No way; easy way to Fi Championship.
Liberty can take the $100,000,000 the give to Ferrari each year and support the rest of the teams and “fund” a few new ones.
Is Ferrari seriously suggesting that they would forfeit $100 million & finance a new series? LMAO!

15

Whitout Ferrari F1 is actualy GBF1.when you look at it from the outside GB. Please remeber that all of you British F1 Fans.Even Mercedes and Renault is mostly from your contry.

16

And winter testing will take place at Talladega .

17

I’m pretty sure F1 could be run from almost any densely populated island anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. No I get your point but I’m sure this will change. I can see that around 30 years from now, the “World Series” (formerly known as F1) will be run from North Carolina.. 😉

18

Ok, I’ve heard enough. Mercedes and Ferrari have hijacked F1 for their own personal gain and have helped to screw the legendary formula into the earth. Remember the PU’s that you hate so much? Well they love them and want them to continue. Given the outcry from fans and teams they are exhibiting a whole new level of arrogance by rejecting Liberty’s proposals. The tail is truly wagging the dog and as a 55 year participant and spectator of Formula One I hate seeing it hijacked by these corporate bean crunchers. It takes a special kind of a**hat to make the *Moses* comment to the one guy that brought them a decade of success and I suspect both Marchionne & Wolff hold the rest of F1 in similar contempt. Who needs ‘Manufacturers’ in F1 anyway? It seems that they have been viewed as the Holy Grail and saviours of the Brand. Personally, if I hear the term “road relevant” one more time I’m going to vom1t bone marrow. Get these guys gone so we can have our F1 back!

19

@ Baron…good post. I’m glad to see that i’m not the only ‘aged ‘ follower of F1.

20

I couldn’t agree more!

21

F1 is showbiz like football is now. They need the big names to get the punters through the door, ie subscribe.
I wouldn’t spend a small fortune to watch top league football if they filled the season with players from the lower leagues.
If F1 thinks it can still get punters to sign up to watch without the big star names.
Well good luck with that.

22

An interesting perspective on how serious the pulling out “threat” is in today’s world:
http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/21824817/should-f1-take-ferrari-quit-threat-seriously

23

The good ship F1 has too many people trying to be captain and this is the principle reason (among many!) why F1 isn’t so good or healthy. The new management should regard such posturing as a test; however they react will decide how F1 is under their ownership:
-More of the same (please no!)
-A breath of fresh air (maybe, maybe)

If Ferrari, or any other team / vested interests, want to make threats I say call their bluff. If it turns out this isn’t a bluff then, good! The good ship F1 doesn’t need passengers rocking the boat at best making everyone sea-sick, or at worst sinking the whole thing!

24
Tornillo Amarillo

So we have in one side Liberty and the contender is Ferrari, with the support of Mercedes.

Ferrari can create a series with them and Alfa Romeo-Sauber, Maserati-Haas and imagining Mercedes will follow them, maybe with Mercedes’s customers like Force India, Williams (just thinking).

What to do?
Liberty could fullfil Mercedes expectations about engines and money, in private, and voilà, deal done, F1 continues, Ferrari will be defeated.
Maybe officially Liberty could still offer the package of $100M to Ferrari but with a decreasing amount through the years, or subject to certain complex marketing targets incomprenhensible to the public, so Ferrari could still say its version in the sense they won the dispute.
Marcchione to go public with this dispute and personally against Ross Brown, it sounds like the last resource of negotiation when you are losing the fight.

25

Agree specially on your last sentence. In negotiations you can tell who is losing, because that mostly is the party that starts treathening. Danger of that is that it can be difficult to cancel threaths without facelose and then strange things can happen.

26
Tornillo Amarillo

“Next year with only three engines per driver for the season the costs increase because of all the work on reliability.

I said exactly that few time ago!
Liberty said engines will be cheaper and I said that is not gonna happen.

27

@ TA….Where did Liberty say that in ’18 three of these PU abominations would be cheaper than four?

28
Tornillo Amarillo

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

– BBC

@kenneth : everywhere. And nobody says 3 PUs will cost the same that 4 PUs (except me).

29

If I was Carney/Brawn I would take out a full page advert in the telegraph advertising an entry in the F1 due to the retirement of a long standing F1 team.

Personally I think that they can see themselves losing the unfair $100m per year and veto and want to keep as much as possible.

30

funny he said “we”. seeing as he’s only there for what, a few years, compared to others who’s been doing it for decades.

31

I voted bluffing, he’s serious but Liberty should not back down.
However, if Ferrari really want to win in F1 they NEED to do it on a level playing field. The REAL bull**** in F1 is Ferrari’s extra $100M and the ‘long term success’ bonus that skews towards the top 4 teams, who are also the richest teams.
F1 should also publish a $/point table that Force India would top.

Even if Ferrari did win next year I will be pointing out how much extra regulatory and financial help they get, making it a Pyrrhic victory. Ferrari need equality as much as the smaller teams.

Some of Bernie’s legacy needs unwinding, Liberty are well placed to do that. If that means Ferrari want to step away for a couple of years while we get to see more even competition, that’s a price worth paying. The optics for Ferrari of running away from a fair fight would be a PR disaster. They would also be touting (tarting?) for preferential funding for whatever series they then move to or create.

32

The Ferrari share holders would ultimately make the decision to pull out of F1 not Marchione.

And further food for thought.
Maybe Ross the boss has several other manufacturers lined up ready to sign up on the proviso that he can get either Ferrari’s back hander reduced or get them out all together.
Either way you only need look in the stands to see that there are more people in orange than red,this is in support of Max. If you look at brand correlation then it’s much easier to buy a can of energy drink than a Ferrari.
The current F1 model is not sustainable.
What’s really going on here is typical of what happens when two alpha males start facing off. One gets chewed up and spat out.
Ironically it sounds like Ross and Carey are playing good cop bad cop and will be aiming for something in between the extremes. Compromise will be the order of the day because divorce will be too expensive for both sides.

33

F1canmaker….The problem with compromise is that you finish up with something that is neither ‘fish nor fowl’…a hybrid!!!! We already have one of those, it has to go and if that means that Wolffie and ‘Sweaterman’ organise a new sandpit to play in then so be it.

34

Bye. Be carful not to let the door hit you on the way out

35

To start another series would cost Ferrari a substantial investment to implement and participate. F1 currenty makes them money. He’s probably bluffing but if he’s not its a huge gamble. I don’t think he’d get past the pragmatists in the boardroom.

36

Like for Ferrari or not, if they leav3 the sport F1 is as we have known it is finished.
You can’t put on a price on the history and prestige they bring which is why they have the clout they do.
Bernie knew it and if Liberty don’t then it will be to the detriment of their substantial investment.
With the Formula in the decline and the uncertainty surrounding the direction of the regulations F1 CANNOT afford to lose Ferrari PERIOD. They are mutually inclusive. You can’t have one without the other. Anyone that suggests otherwise is terribly naive.

37

@ Sars…Yes, you can put a price on the ‘history and prestige’ of Ferrari. It’s US$100million and the freedom to decide what engine configuration that they, Ferrari, [and Mercedes] deem to be in their best interests [irrespective of what anyone else might believe.] LIke you, i don’t want them to leave the sport/business but given the choice of getting a CLF engine i would be prepared to sacrifice Ferrari if that’s what is needed. Ferrari and Mercedes should not be calling the shots especially where it is concerned with arrnging the level of competition. If you recall BE threatened the manufacturers with the intro of a CLF engine before if they didn’t lower their prices. Guess what happened? The manu’s are primarily concerned with keeping their domination locked in. If they really were racers they’d welcome all comers…just to prove a point.

38

You can put a price on them Kenneth as you say and that price is determined by the strength ofthe sport.
If F1 was growing then Liberty could call Ferrari’s bluff, if indeed it is one, knowing they could take the inevitable hit the sport would suffer from of rhem leaving. As it stands at the moment though they need Ferrari participating more than ever. They cannot afford to lose them.
The only way Liberty can act from a position of strength is to have the Formula succeed both from a viewership standpoint and with an exciting race package, neither of which they have at this point in time. I believe Carey has a very weak hand and they also have their work cutout trying to improve the show whilst also appeasing the top manufacturers.
For this reason they need to form a strong alliance with the FIA otherwise the sport is #####$$ and so are the billions they invested.

39

I would to love see Marchionne explain to his share holders why he could not negotiate a deal with Liberty and why he had to pull out of F1 which is the DNA of Ferrari. There is no way on earth this will happen. Also Bernie is just bitter and trying to stir trouble.

40

There’s that pesky ‘term’ again!!!! James, please add the term ‘XXX’ to the filter.

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