Despite fears inside Ferrari that Max Mosley is trying to 'destroy' Luca di Montezemolo with Formula 1's new budget cap, Bernie Ecclestone has promised that he will protect the team the FIA President not so long ago famously and controversially described as being the most important in the sport.

A war of words was waged between di Montezemolo and Mosley prior to the weekend, with the former suggesting that the new cap is 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased' and runs the risk of creating 'two categories of teams' within the top flight, and hinting that F1 is not necessarily 'a never-ending story' for the Scuderia [see separate story - click here].

Mosley subsequently fired back that 'the sport could survive without Ferrari [see separate story - click here], but his long-time friend, ally and business partner Ecclestone has come down firmly on the side of the Maranello-based outfit, adamant that he will not allow the dispute to degenerate into open warfare.

When asked by The Times about speculation within the squad that Mosley is bidding to 'destroy' di Montezemolo - also President of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), which has frequently been at odds with the governing body's proposals - the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive suggested that the Italian would do well not to play hard ball with a man as intelligent and influential as the 68-year-old Briton.

"I won't let it happen," Ecclestone urged. "The trouble with Max is he's not capable, like in the past, of wrapping things up nicely with a pink ribbon and things. He wants to put it in an old cardboard box and tie it with string.

"The trouble with Luca is that you shouldn't let Max ever be in a position where he can start a debate or an argument. He's reasonably clever and you won't win."

The 78-year-old also professed his support for the ?40 million annual budget cap - which he has conceded could yet begin as high as ?60 million in 2010 to quell some teams' unease about the sudden dramatic drop - and argued that given constructive discussions, a compromise could be reached that is acceptable to all parties.

"It would appear that everyone is in favour of the cap, including Ferrari, if we can get them to agree, which we can," he underlined. "However, there is concern over the amount that is referred to in the cap for some of the teams and also the two-tier system, [but] these are probably not monumental things to sort out."