Ferrari performs quick u-turn over F1 budget cap

Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto. Image: TeamTalk
Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto. Image: TeamTalk

Ferrari back-tracked on Thursday after team principal Mattia Binotto seemed to warn the team might quit Formula 1 if a planned spending cap was lowered further because of the coronavirus crisis.

Binotto told a British newspaper that if next year's cap was lowered the team would "look at other further options" but the team explained in a statement that he meant they would need additional outlets to express their "racing DNA", without saying whether those might compete with F1.

Ferrari was unhappy last year with the decision to introduce a budget cap of $175-million per team from next season.

READ | A lowered budget cap 'could dumb down Formula 1' - Ferrari team boss

With the first nine races of this season already cancelled or postponed, the sport held a meeting last week to discuss reducing next year's cap to $145-million and $130 million the season after, but could not reach agreement.

Sources suggested that Ferrari and another big-spending team, Red Bull, opposed the changes.

In an interview with a British newspaper published late on Wednesday, Binotto appeared to suggest the team, which has an annual budget of more than $400-million might leave F1.

"The $145m level is already a new and demanding request compared to what was set out last June," he told the Guardian. "If it was to get even lower, we would not want to be put in a position of having to look at other further options for deploying our racing DNA."

On Thursday, Ferrari issued a statement to "clarify" what Binotto had said.

"He never mentioned about Scuderia Ferrari quitting F1, on the contrary, he said that we would not want to be put in a position of having to look at further options, besides continuing racing in F1, for deploying our racing DNA," it said.

Binotto had argued that it as unfair to impose a flat cap.

"In F1, we have all sorts of teams with different characteristics," he said. "They operate in different countries, under different legislation and with their own ways of working."

"We are well aware that F1 and indeed the whole world right now is going through a particularly difficult time because of the Covid-19 pandemic," he added. "However, this is not the time to react in a hurry."

'Fragile state'

Many of the teams at the back of the grid spend around $150-million and are struggling to survive.

In recent weeks, one of the poorer teams, McLaren, has led calls for a cap of $100-million.

Its principal, Zak Brown, said F1 was in a "very fragile state" and added "I could see four teams disappearing if this isn't handled the right way."

On the other side, Christian Horner of Red Bull has argued against dropping the cap below $145-million.

"F1 has to be the pinnacle of motor sport in terms of technology and performance," Horner said. "It must be attractive for the car manufacturers and the sponsors who want to be linked to this most prestigious category. If we restrict costs excessively then we run the risk of reducing the level considerably, bringing it ever closer to the lower formulae."

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