Mattia Binotto

Binotto: Ferrari could leave Formula 1 over lower cost cap

Ferrari would consider leaving Formula 1 if the impending cost cap continues to be lowered, says team principal Mattia Binotto.

Set to be introduced in 2021, the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen teams already agree to reduce the cap from its original figure of $175 million to a number in the $145m range.

However, a group of smaller teams led by McLaren are pushing for that number to be reduced to as low as $100m in order to further safeguard their financial well being — something Binotto maintains is untenable for his outfit.

“The $145m level is already a new and demanding request compared to what was set out last June,” he said to The Guardian. “It cannot be attained without further significant sacrifices, especially in terms of our human resources. 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.”

From Binotto’s perspective, he fears that F1 could be rushing into a decision that while ostensibly leveling the playing field, could discourage its biggest names from playing in the first place.

“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. However, this is not the time to react in a hurry as there’s a risk of making decisions on the back of this emergency without clearly evaluating all the consequences,” he said.

“F1, we have all sorts of teams with different characteristics. They operate in different countries, under different legislation and with their own ways of working. Therefore it is not simple and straightforward to make structural changes simply by cutting costs in a linear fashion.

“F1 has to be the pinnacle of motor sport in terms of technology and performance. 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.”

In earlier crisis talks it was reported that Ferrari and fellow titans Red Bull had proposed a ‘two-tier’ cap with a higher number for suppliers and a lower one for customers. And while that proposal proved unpopular, Binotto supports Red Bull boss Christian Horner’s suggestion of allowing customer cars at least until teams can get back on their feet again.

“If the current emergency really put the existence of some of our competitors in this sport in doubt and made it necessary to revise certain cornerstones, then Ferrari would be open to it. It’s not even sacrilegious, given it’s happened before in F1 and happens today in series such as MotoGP.”