Ferrari Cries Wolf, Says Starting Rival F1 Series Possible After 2020

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Maurizio Arrivabene, Sergio Marchionne

Photo via Scuderia Ferrari

If Sergio Marchionne actually wants people to believe he could pull Scuderia Ferrari out of Formula One, he probably should stop resorting to the “Prancing Horse’s” go-to threats.

Marchionne told reporters Monday that those who doubt he will green-light Ferrari’s exit from F1 are “playing with fire,” according to Motorsport.com. The automaker’s CEO first suggested in November that he could pull the Maranello, Italy-based operation out of F1 over disagreements between Ferrari and Liberty Media over the sport’s post-2020 regulations.

Ferrari has a history of using empty threats to get its way during the shaping of new rules, but Marchionne claims this time is different.

“The situation has changed since 2015,” Marchionne said. “Starting from that moment, everyone knows that if we threaten to do something, we do it.

Although the situation indeed has changed since 2015, in that Maurizio Arrivabene brought a renewed vigor to the Scuderia, the new team boss has not shown that Ferrari follows through, as Marchionne suggested. Arrivabene’s arrival instead signaled that Ferrari was shifting away from its self-serving antics of throwing its weight around in the media.

That apparently wasn’t the case, however.

As a result, Marchionne broke out one of Ferrari’s favorite threats: starting a rival F1 series.

“The previous contract made it impossible for the team to evaluate an alternative outside of the circus,” Marchionne said, via Motorsport.com. “Now we can analyze the possibility to create something similar to Formula One in terms of a show.”

Unfortunately for the veteran automotive executive, his comment actually highlights why most people are calling Ferrari’s bluff.

By saying it was “impossible” to consider launching an alternative championship prior to the Concorde Agreement, Marchionne totally ignored the fact that Ferrari tried to do just that in 2005, and again in 2010. On those occasions, the proposed series seemed much closer to a reality as Ferrari had the support of other teams.

Marchionne admittedly acknowledged that it would need to get other outfits onboard to feasibly start a new category in 2021. But given that the Formula One Teams Association was dissolved in 2014, and Toto Wolff has said Mercedes wishes to find common ground with Liberty, it seems highly unlikely that Ferrari would be able to drum up the necessary support.

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