x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ecclestone warning for F1 dissidents

The Formula One boss issues a warning to dissident manufacturers such as Ferrari: We can do without you.

Bernie Eccelstone says that Formula One can survive without Ferrari.
Bernie Eccelstone says that Formula One can survive without Ferrari.

LONDON // Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone last night issued a warning to dissident manufacturers such as Ferrari: We can do without you. Mr Ecclestone, the president of Formula One Management, said other teams were lining up to get into F1. The Italian manufacturer, part owned by the Abu Dhabi investment group Mubadala, was included on a list of entries for next year's Championship yesterday after submitting a conditional entry last week. They say they will only participate if the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) backs down on plans for a voluntary budget cap.

The FIA yesterday named Ferrari on a list of confirmed entries for next season and said McLaren, BMW, Renault, Toyota and Brawn GP's places were dependent on their dropping their opposition to the rule changes. Ferrari immediately responded by insisting its entry was also conditional. The deadline for the teams to back down has been set for Friday, with crucial talks planned in the run-up to next weekend's British Grand Prix.

Max Mosley, president of the FIA, has said if the teams submit unconditional entries he will work with them to shape new regulations. Mr Ecclestone, 78, is not frightened by the prospect of teams like Ferrari leaving the sport. "If they do pull out, as they have threatened, it would be sad because all Italy supports them as a national institution they follow with great pride," he said. "But it wouldn't mean the end of Formula One, not by a long chalk. We have new teams falling over themselves to come into F1. They would be pleased if Ferrari did pull out - along with any other teams who are like-minded - so they could get their cars on the grid in the greatest motor race championship on the planet. And make a lot of money doing it.

"Whatever they decide we will live on and thrive - and if they do break away and try to form their own championship they would be very silly indeed. And they would lose many millions of pounds. That's not the scenario wanted by sponsors who heap big money on to their teams and look for a return of the widest possible recognition for their brand. "Ferrari seem to forget they spend an absolute fortune in Formula One and they failed to win the championship for 10 years."

Williams and Force India, who submitted unconditional entries, will be joined by newcomers Campos Grand Prix, Manor and Team USF1, with a total of 26 cars making the grid the largest since 1995. Other entrants, including Team Lotus and Lola, are on standby should a spot become available. The teams threatening to leave the sport could consider launching their own series, but Mr Ecclestone does not believe this is realistic.

"It costs a real lot of money to run a series and, anyway, we control the circuits that can stage that level of racing," he said."We organise the venues which don't cost the teams a cent. All they have to do is pitch up at a track with their sponsors' names all over their cars in exchange for millions upon millions of dollars and race in front of a worldwide television audience which I have set up and keep going."

iley@thenational.ae