Ferrari Have Passed the Point of No Return
There will be no Ferrari in F1 for 2010.
Today came the latest twist in the budget cap saga as the French courts ruled against Ferrari in their case that the FIA's plan was illegal under the rules of the sport.
The courts ruled against both "tiers" (you see what I've done there?) of the Italian team's argument, agreeing with the FIA both in that a regulation change veto Ferrari believed they had was invalid, and that the May 29 deadline for 2010 entries was important in light of the regatta of new names lining up to enter F1.
There have been many, many column inches dedicated to whether Ferrari are serious in their threats to pull out or simply trying to negotiate themselves a better deal.
However, everything now points to Ferrari meaning every word they say, and 2010 being a Prancing Horse free zone in F1.
Last week saw the company founder's only surviving son, Piero Ferrari, insisting the threats were serious, and I have to say I believe him.
Many people have said that Ferrari have the most to lose by pulling out of F1, and they do. However, they also have the most to lose by turning back on the wall of anti-FIA and anti-F1 PR they have put out in recent weeks.
I may be a little stereotypical here, but I always consider Ferrari, the F1 team at least, to be run with passion in mind, rather than business. Ferrari see F1 as a sport, a competition, while other teams, including fellow protesters Renault and Red Bull, see F1 as a business opportunity, as an extension of the their more traditional marketing campaigns.
If they are indeed run with passion in mind, can you imagine anyone in Ferrari willing to lose the amount of respect that would result from sheepishly putting their names on the F1 entry list for 2010?
This position was only made clearer in the post-Paris decision outburst against the teams who could well be their replacements. The Ferrari website labelled the 2010 F1 season "Formula GP3", ridiculing the quality of teams rumoured to be serious about entering the series.
I do have to agree with Ferrari here, the statement describing how "you can't find one very famous name" and wondering "can a World Championship with teams like them...have the same value of today's F1?"
Perhaps there is more than a little self-interest in these comments, the statement goes on to place Ferrari at the forefront of the history of the sport, but it's true.
Line up the names on the 2010 possible list, which has been revealed in more detail today—Lola, USGPE, iSport, Campos, RML, Epsilon Euskadi, Nick Wirth, Litespeed—and you'd struggle to get more than a glimmer of recognition from anyone who isn't already interested in F1.
As people who aren't interested in football watch the FA Cup final (or the Superbowl, depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside), people who aren't generally interesting in motorsport are going to watch F1.
This was one of the few good things about the glut of manufacturer teams currently in F1. People could see the names of teams on the grid and relate them to actual cars. You can't do that with any of the names above, especially if many of them use the Cosworth engine that is being prepared for customer teams.
Anyway, I digress.
After such a bitter rant about the quality of teams, can you really imagine Ferrari being willing to line up against them for 2010? Can you imagine Ferrari willing to take part in "Formula GP3"?
No, it would be humiliating to have gone to this length to destroy the character of F1, before revealing that you're still its friend.
I don't like Ferrari, but I want to be wrong.
I don't see them on the grid next year.
(Quotes: Autosport.com from the Ferrari, you can read in its original context here.)
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