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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ferrari threatens to quit, FIA unfazed

Ferrari used the platform of its third quarter results to take a swipe at Max Mosley's and the FIA's standardized engine proposal.

At the heart of the statement is Ferrari's belief the sport hinges upon technological development.

“Whilst reiterating its wholehearted commitment to a substantial and needed reduction in costs in Formula One, starting with propulsion, the Ferrari Board of Directors expressed strong concerns regarding plans to standardise engines as it felt that such a move would detract from the entire raison of a sport with which Ferrari has been involved continuously since 1950, a raison d’etre based principally on competition and technological development,” an official statement read.

The team went so far as to say it could quit the sport if the standardized power unit were adopted.

“The Board of Directors expressed the opinion that should these key elements be diminished, it would have to re-evaluate, with its partners the viability of continuing its presence in the sport,” the team said.

The FIA fired back yesterday.

“It seems the Ferrari Board were misinformed. The FIA has offered the teams three options, one of which is the so-called standard engine, and another that the manufacturers should jointly guarantee to supply power trains to the independent teams for less than €5m per season,” the FIA responded.

Taking a swipe at Ferrari's reported profit, the FIA reiterated its argument -- costs must be cut to save the sport.

“The FIA is delighted by Ferrari's financial success and hopes this will be maintained. However a number of teams find themselves facing costs which greatly exceed income. This is not sustainable,” the ruling body continued.

Ferrari is not the first team to question its future in the sport if standardized engine go through. Rumors have circulated Toyota could opt for Le Mans in two years time if the proposal passes.

“Generally we are assuming we are here until at least 2012. The ambition is to win and continue the contribution, if you like, to Formula One. The issue is we don't want a standard engine,” Toyota president John Howett told autosport.com. “If it is forced through, then it (quitting) is not a decision we will take here, it will be taken by the board in Japan, but they want a degree of differentiation between teams.”

The FIA, however, says the ball firmly in the manufacturer's court. While not commenting on its already released “invitation to tender for a contract to supply engine and power transmission systems,” the ruling body made a threat of its own: Change or we'll change it for you.

“It is now for the manufacturers to agree one of the three FIA options or themselves produce concrete proposals to reduce costs to a sustainable level,” it said. “If neither happens, the FIA will take whatever measures prove necessary to preserve a credible world championship for both drivers and constructors.”
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