Halfway through last week Ferrari yet again made waves after F1 team principal Mattia Binotto seemed to have suggested in an interview with The Guardian that the Scuderia could exit the sport if the budget cap would be lowered even further.
Although the Italian manufacturer was quick to dismiss the rumours, the damage was already done, as Binotto’s misinterpreted words had caused both a fit of panic and joy amongst F1’s millions of fans around the world as they circulated social media.
Meanwhile, Ferrari’s competitors seemed unfazed by Binotto’s rather ambiguous statement and decided not to look too much into what the curly-haired Italian had said. Except, of course, for McLaren’s Zak Brown. Speaking on behalf of the Woking outfit and F1’s smaller teams too, the CEO of the British automaker used the opportunity to double down on his earlier plea to lower the future cost cap of the sport to a mere $100m, instead of the proposed $145m.
Brown did not at all shy away from using some rather strong language to refute the points that Binotto made and even went as far as to say that the Italian outfit were ‘living in denial’ when it comes to the cost of competing in F1. The 48-year-old businessman stated that it is of the utmost importance that F1 should, at all times, be financially viable towards its participants. If Ferrari will not let the sport dial it down a notch on the numbers side, Brown would rather see the Maranello team leave if that guarantees the survival of other, smaller teams.
While Brown’s motivation to make the sport a better and healthier place for constructors seems to come from a place of empathy – although surely there’s a competitive angle too – I would argue that a scenario where Ferrari decide to pack up and leave should not even exist.
Sure, technically F1 can continue after losing just one team – albeit a major player. After all, the grid will then still consist of at least 18 cars, which is on the verge of being too little. But the problem with losing Ferrari is far larger than that, and it’s one that Brown of all people should understand, seeing how he runs a legendary racing team himself.
No matter how you twist it, Ferrari isn’t just any racing team that happens to compete in Formula 1. Its very foundation is fused with the sport itself. They go back all the way to the fifties. Without Ferrari, F1 would lose one of its last remaining links to the past. It is for the same reason that the sport should forever continue to race at historic tracks like Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. They simply ooze an atmosphere that is nearly impossible to be replicated by the elements that weren’t there when the sport was founded.
Furthermore, Ferrari is one of, if not the only team today providing F1 with some well-needed drama and intrigue. Nowadays, with the sport being at an absolute all-time high as far as professionalism, the Scuderia never fails to humanise F1. Whether it be through a profoundly confusing strategy call or a sensational, hard-fought victory in front of their home crowd, Ferrari always come through with some sort of storyline to colour a Grand Prix, reminding the fans that is people, not machines, who make up the sport we all love.
Sure, Formula 1 probably can continue without Ferrari, but do we really want to live in that world? I, for one, do not.