Formula 1 without Ferrari simply wouldn't be Formula 1 anymore, the top flight's drivers have insisted – as the FIA's controversial new budget cap has come under further fire for its capacity to engender a confusing and unequal two-tier system within the sport.
Both Ferrari and BMW have threatened to walk away from F1 should the £40 million cap – due for introduction in 2010 – not be reconsidered, with Luca di Montezemolo describing the regulation as 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased' and Mario Theissen contending that 'a two-class Formula 1 is not attractive to BMW – in one go you cannot just evaporate by a factor of three'.
Though FIA President Max Mosley has argued that 'the sport could survive without Ferrari' – one of motor racing's most iconic names, and one that has been involved at the highest level since the official inception of the world championship all the way back in 1950 – the drivers seem to disagree, and have claimed internal politics are in danger of tearing F1 apart.
Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton revealed that he 'couldn't imagine' the sport without the Scuderia
, with former team-mate Fernando Alonso suggesting such a scenario would be 'impossible' and experienced Brawn GP ace Rubens Barrichello calling the entire situation 'polemic'.
“Without Ferrari I don't think it would be Formula 1 anymore,” concurred Force India veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, with BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld adding: “It was a bit strange hearing that from him (Mosley), because I thought that people were looking and listening to the fans worldwide. Ferrari is obviously the biggest name in F1 with many supporters and has been there since the very beginning, so they belong in F1 for sure.”
“I think for the moment there are so many political games around Formula 1 that I don't want to put myself in the middle,” reckoned current Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. “It would be nice to have a better sport, you know – less politics and more sport is all I can say.”
The Formula one Teams' Association (FOTA) has signalled its desire to hold 'urgent' talks with the governing body regarding the cap [see separate story – click here
], which has been brought in with the intention of significantly reducing expenditure in what has long been the world's most expensive sport, and enticing new teams to make the leap and swell the dwindling grid numbers to save F1 from collapse.
“I think the budget cap thing is something that the sport in the future will look at as a way to make it more financially viable,” summarised straight-talking Red Bull Racing star Mark Webber, “but to have two different regulations, for me as a driver, that's not attractive at all. I want the guy at the other end of the tennis court to have the same racquet as me, basically.”