Ferrari's future participation in the F1 world championship could be in doubt unless current commercial rights holder CVC ploughs more money into the sport, according to team principal Stefano Domenicali.
While the Prancing Horse has often been at the centre of quit threats - and president Luca di Montezemolo only recently hinted that a breakaway championship is far from a foregone conclusion - the presence of FIAT Group backer Exor, headed up by Gianni Agnelli's grandson John Elkann, as potential partner to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in any F1 takeover bid means that Domenicali's warning has to be taken more seriously.
Murdoch's media giant and the Agnelli family-owned investment firm Exor this week declared an interest in forming a consortium that could bid to relieve CVC of its majority interest in F1, throwing an added consideration into the mix as the teams continue to debate the constitution of a new Concorde Agreement, which would take effect from the end of next season. di Montezemolo has made no secret of his opposition to the current deal, which sees CVC walk away with half of the sport's £600m profit.
“At the moment everything is calm, but soon something will happen,” Domenicali told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport
, “From the commercial point of view, we need to clarify the following points: Who will be involved in the talks? Which teams and constructors want to stay and which want to enter F1? And who is responsible for the show?
"A marketing partner is needed. It can be CVC once more, but it must invest in F1 and develop, and we must make sure our sport becomes interesting for young people. F1 must speak their language, use their technologies - internet, tablets, social forums - and remain comprehensible for the audience. F1 is interesting for Ferrari only if these points are taken into consideration, and we must avoid changing the rules too often. We need stability, on top of having grands prix in important countries for our sales, first of all in the USA.”
It has already been suggested that Bernie Ecclestone may use Ferrari's disaffection for the new engine rules due to take effect from 2013 as a means of prising the Italian team away from the otherwise strong FOTA alliance, and Domenicali's warning only serves to underline the fact that the Scuderia would not hesitate to go its own way should it feel its interests were not being best served by the current promoters, particularly having got its way by previously threatening a breakaway series to rival F1.
The team's official stance, however, is that it remains committed to a strong F1.
"All we can do is repeat what has already been said so often in the past," a statement on the official website concluded, "Ferrari stresses the importance of ensuring the long term stability and development of F1."