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Ferrari questions Liberty Media's plans, threatens to quit F1

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Ferrari has questioned Liberty Media's plans for the future of Formula One, warning it is prepared to quit the sport after 2020.

Since its takeover of F1 was completed earlier this year, Liberty Media has been pushing to future-proof the sport and make it more appealing to its fanbase. Steps have already been taken, with the FIA and FOM working together to propose a new set of engine regulations for 2021, a vision that was presented in a meeting with F1 teams in Paris on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, rivals Mercedes and Renault expressed doubts over the new 2021 engine plans, while fellow manufacturer Honda is yet to comment. In a conference call with analysts on Thursday, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne revealed he is unimpressed with some of the proposals Liberty has outlined.

"Liberty has got a couple of good intentions in all of this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution of the team which I think is good," he said. "[But] there are a couple of things we don't necessarily agree with. One is the fact that somehow powertrain uniqueness is not going to be one of the drivers of distinctiveness of the participants' line-up. I would not countenance this going forward.

"The fact that we now appear to be at odds in terms of the strategic development of this thing, and we see the sport in 2021 taking on a different air, is going to force some decisions on the part of Ferrari.

"I understand that Liberty may have taken this into account in coming up with their views, but I think it needs to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play."

A Strategy Group meeting between F1's hierarchy and team bosses is set to take place next Tuesday, in which Liberty is expected to unveil more plans regarding the future of the sport. F1's new owners are understood to be keen to rebalance the distribution of income between teams in an attempt to promote greater competition, while the introduction of a budget cap to reduce spending has been mooted.

"I don't want to prejudge any of this, we'll see where it takes us," Marchionne explained. "What I do know is that it is part of our DNA since the day we were born. It's not as though we can define ourselves differently. But if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognisable sandbox, I don't want to play anymore."

Marchionne added that the financial implications of Ferrari leaving F1 would be "totally beneficial to the profit and loss", and claimed that "the board would be celebrating here until the cows come home".

Ferrari has competed in F1 ever since the world championship began in 1950, and is the most successful team in the sport's history, having amassed a record 227 wins, 16 constructors' championships and 15 drivers' titles over the 68 seasons it has contested. It is committed to F1 until the end of 2020 under the Concorde Agreement -- which was drawn up in 2013.

The Maranello-based outfit has threatened to walk away from F1 on a number of occasions in the past, but this is the first time that such a statement has been made under Marchionne's leadership.

When asked how he would feel about being the CEO that took Ferrari out of F1, Marchionne said: "Like a million bucks, because I'd be working on an alternative strategy to try and replace it. A more rational one, too.

"I'm attending this meeting on strategy because it's important and it matters a lot to this business. The financial implications of the wrong choice for the moment going forward are pretty significant to Ferrari."