Ferrari is deadly 'serious' and not 'bluffing' in its threat to walk away from Formula 1 over the FIA's controversial and unpopular new budget cap, the son of the Scuderia's legendary founder has insisted - as paddock cynics suggest the menace is 'just posturing'.

Both former team owner Eddie Jordan and triple world champion Niki Lauda have rubbished the Maranello-based concern's assertion that it is ready to pull the plug on F1 [see separate story - click here] over what it contends would be a two-tier system of haves and have-nots by dint of a cap that is not only not compulsory, but also 'not enforceable' and not 'possible to control'.

There are also fears that the regulations will be necessarily biased towards those teams that choose to adhere to the cap - with greater 'technical freedoms' available to capped competitors over their unlimited-budget rivals - and that reducing expenditure to a maximum of ?40 million is unworkable in such a short space of time for squads that currently spend as much as ?150 to ?200 million a year.

Renault, Toyota and Red Bull have similarly signalled their intention to quit should the rules not be changed, with energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz - owner of the latter - reckoning that only two or three of the present outfits will remain should the governing body not back down.

Enzo Ferrari's only surviving son Piero - who owns ten per cent of the famous Italian company, the top flight's longest-standing and most loyal entrant as the only one to have competed in every single season since the official inception of the world championship all the way back in 1950 - has compared the situation to that of the 1980s, when his father had threatened to leave F1 in favour of the Indianapolis 500.

"He wasn't bluffing," he told British newspaper The Guardian. "He was serious - and so are we. Our first objection is to the budget cap, which we don't believe it's possible to control. The second is that it is wrong that a team accepting the budget cap has more freedom and different technical regulations.

"If we are on the starting line of a grand prix, we have to stay within the same regulations, the same technical specifications. It's like soccer - in Italy we have Internazionale (Inter Milan), who are winning and they spend huge amounts of money for the best players, but in Serie A you also have a team like Catania, who have no money. Do you say to Catania, 'you can play with twelve players' and to Inter, 'you must play with nine'? It wouldn't be fair.

"This is what the new Formula 1 rules are like, though. They're not acceptable at all. ?Everybody on the grid has to start with the same rules, otherwise there's no ?competition and it's somebody else ?deciding who's going to win."

The cap has been implemented in an effort to restrict what had become ever-escalating expenditure in the world's most glamorous and expensive sport, safeguard the future of existing teams in the wake of Honda's shock exit back in December and attract new entrants to make the graduation, with three available extra slots on the 2010 starting grid. FIA President Max Mosley has argued that without it F1 will not survive the current global credit crunch - but Ferrari is adamant that there are other, more viable ways to save money.

"This is not because we want to spend money," he insisted. "We want to save money. All the constructors are keen on reducing the F1 expenses, but you can reduce the expenditure without having a budget cap - and it's not enforceable anyway.

"It's difficult enough to enforce the technical rules, as was proved recently by the business of the diffuser, so how can you enforce or control a budget cap? A better way is by controlling the expenses on the technical side. We are doing it on engines and it will be done next year on the gearbox. We can even introduce limits on material costs - carbon fibre, maybe.

"I have good friends racing in NASCAR in the United States. They control the costs - the number of mechanics, for instance - and the teams are racing with the same rules for everybody. We could do something like that."

A bitter war of words between Mosley and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo late last month culminated in the former claiming that 'the sport would survive' without the scarlet machines. The Italian countered by intimating that in failing to adequately consult the teams over the regulation change and in effect steamrollering it through, the Englishman was breaking an agreement he had made with Ferrari in 2005 - guaranteeing the squad certain exclusive rights in exchange for the secret EUR100 million deal brokered by di Montezemolo that had quashed the danger of a manufacturer-led breakaway series. Piero Ferrari has hinted that the prospect of his team going elsewhere to race in the light of such a betrayal is far from beyond the realms of probability.

"He (Mosley) forgot any way of consulting what you might say are the actors of the show," the 64-year-old pointed out. "I know that the economy is a problem for the world, but this kind of attitude and changing rules in this way is not going to save the economy.

"I strongly believe that if you look at the past of Ferrari, today's image is borne from victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and sportscar and GT racing. Racing is in the DNA of Ferrari. My father started the business making and selling racing cars. We cannot forget our beginnings, and the passion of my father is still in the company. Everybody in the company loves racing, but we want racing with clear rules and starting from the same point - the same rules for everybody."


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