<
>

Ferrari warns F1: Take our quit threat seriously

play
ESPN's Way-Too-Early F1 predictions for 2018 (1:42)

From new drivers entering teams to unlikely race winners, ESPN's F1 experts make their predictions for the 2018 season. (1:42)

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne insists the Italian company is serious about its threat to withdraw from Formula One if Liberty Media does not change its plans for the sport's immediate future.

Ferrari, the only team to have contested every world championship since F1's inaugural year in 1950, issued the warning in early November after Liberty outlined its blueprint for the next cycle of engine regulations, set to start in 2021. The sport's new owners, who took control in early 2017, are believed to be considering ways to redistribute prize money among F1's teams, while also looking at how to enforce a cost cap to address the current disparity in performance between teams on the grid.

At the time, Marchionne questioned whether Liberty Media's plans were in line with F1's DNA, saying: "If we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognisable sandbox, I don't want to play anymore."

Though Ferrari's sister brand Alfa Romeo has just confirmed its return to Formula One next year as title sponsor for Sauber, Marchionne says it would be unwise for people to underestimate his original declaration.

"The dialogue has started and will continue to evolve,' Marchionne said at the launch of Alfa Romeo Sauber. "We have time until 2020 to find a solution which benefits Ferrari. The threat of Ferrari leaving Formula One is serious. The agreement with Sauber expires in 2020-2021, right when Ferrari could leave."

"We have to find a solution which is good for the sport but we also have to be clear on the things we can't back down on."

As F1's oldest team, Ferrari receives a bonus payment every season to compete in the sport. It has threatened to quit before; in 2009, former president Luca di Montezemolo said the Prancing Horse would walk away from F1 and create a rival series if it continued with plans to implement a budget cap.