Ferrari's threat to walk away from Formula 1 over the budget cap row is 'just posturing' and 'absolute rubbish' – that is the view of two of the paddock's experts, erstwhile team owner Eddie Jordan and former three-time world champion Niki Lauda.
– along with rivals Toyota, Red Bull Racing and Renault – has vowed to sensationally quit the top flight in protest against FIA President Max Mosley's optional £40 million cost cap that the governing body plans to introduce into the sport from 2010. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has blasted the initiative as being 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased' in creating what would in effect be a two-tier system of haves and have-nots 'based on arbitrary technical rules and economic parameters', with BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen agreeing that 'a two-class Formula 1 is not attractive to BMW', since 'in one go you cannot just evaporate by a factor of three'.
Toyota, too, has suggested that a sudden cut of that magnitude – with some teams currently spending in the region of £150 million to £200 million – would be unworkable and would result in massive job losses, with Renault angry that all of the hard work undertaken by the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) of late with the goal of reducing expenditure has seemingly been ignored.
FOTA – of which di Montezemolo is the president – has demanded 'urgent' talks with Mosley on the matter, with a deadline of 29 May for teams to submit entries for the 2010 campaign and a hoped-for crisis meeting over the weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix in just over a week's time.
Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has described F1 and Ferrari as synonymous with each other and 'a marriage made in heaven', with the Maranello-based concern the only one in the 59-year official history of grand prix racing to have competed in every single season without fail.
Mosley has similarly in the past intimated that Ferrari is the most important team in the sport, beloved by fans the world over – though he recently claimed that Formula 1 'would survive' without its longest-standing entrant. BBC
pundit Jordan, though, believes the threat to quit is only 'a bit of posturing' – with the team having more to lose from a withdrawal than the championship.
“Formula 1 used to need Ferrari,” the Irishman said on Jeff Randall Live
, “[but] now it's got so exciting with young teams coming through that I think Ferrari needs Formula 1.
“Overall I think this is a bit of posturing. My guess is Ferrari will never go, because they are linked to this – they are absolutely joined at the hip with Formula 1. It is their only marketing programme.”
The famously outspoken Lauda, for his part, was rather more verbal on the issue, describing the cap as the 'most sensible thing I have ever heard in my life' and the teams' argument against it as 'absolute rubbish'. The Austrian added, moreover, that the 'two-tier' element to the new regulations is the product of the exclusive rights guaranteed to Ferrari by the FIA in 2005 in exchange for the secret €100 million deal brokered by di Montezemolo that quashed the danger of a manufacturer-led breakaway series, alluded to by the Italian in his letter to Mosley late last month. Under those terms Ferrari committed to F1 until 2012.
“Ferrari signed an agreement with the FIA and Bernie, and Mosley is using this [two-tier] situation to be in the clear legally,” 25-time grand prix-winner Lauda – who claimed two of his three drivers' crowns with the legendary Italian outfit – told German publication Sport Bild
. “All the teams asked for this, and now suddenly Ferrari is on the other side. It's totally stupid.
“I see it as a blessing that Mosley and the FIA are so brutally and mercilessly implementing this. The measures are completely reasonable, because the £40 million is just for the cars, purely for the technology. The drivers' salaries and all the marketing activities are to the side, so in the end the teams will still have budgets of between €80 million to €100 million.”