FIA president Todt not worried by Ferrari F1 quit threat

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FIA president Jean Todt insists he is not worried by Ferrari’s threat to quit Formula One.

Bernie Ecclestone, operating in his role as F1’s chairman emeritus, claimed last month that Ferrari overlord Sergio Marchionne has already staged talks about forming a rebel championship.

Marchionne warned in December that Ferrari –  the only team to contest every F1 season and the most successful in its history – will quit the sport unless American owner Liberty Media changes its plans for the future.

Ferrari could quit Formula One, Sergio Marchionne has warned
Ferrari could quit Formula One, Sergio Marchionne has warned (Tim Goode/PA)

Ferrari are tied to F1 until the end of 2020, but are deeply disgruntled about Liberty’s future vision on engines and distribution of prize money. The Italian team currently receive a bonus payment as the oldest marque in the sport.

But Frenchman Todt, a key figure in the Ferrari revival which culminated in Michael Schumacher winning five consecutive world championships at the turn of the century, says the focus of his third term at the helm of F1’s governing body will be on ensuring no teams leave.

“I’m not worried about Ferrari leaving,” Todt, 72 said. “Everybody has their own choice. I’m just worried about making good decisions, and making good choices for the future of Formula One.

“If we do a good job we will have a lot of competitors participating. We need to make it more affordable, make sure we don’t lose any attractive teams, and that’s what we need to do.

“I love Ferrari but I love motor racing. I had 16 years of a fascinating partnership with Ferrari and Ferrari gave me a lot, but I gave them a lot, too.

“Now it is a different chapter in my life and I don’t see Ferrari as I used to see them. I see them as a beautiful car producer, and as a great contender in motor racing.”

Ecclestone, 87, also recently raised eyebrows after claiming that the sport he governed for four decades should follow Formula E in becoming an all-electric championship.

And while Todt believes that F1 has become too complex in recent seasons, he dismissed Ecclestone’s suggestion.

Bernie Ecclestone recently called on Formula One to go electric
Bernie Ecclestone recently called on Formula One to go electric (David Davies/PA)

“Not at all,” he replied when asked if F1 should go electric. “Formula One is a hybrid technology, a great technology, and probably the most sophisticated technology. It’s another level of laboratory.

“You see a Formula One car, and for me it’s something we are working on, because it is too sophisticated and it is too expensive, but it’s a great show.

“It is the biggest motor racing show on earth and that is what it is at the moment so you should not compare it with any other series.”

Todt, who was speaking at the launch of Formula E’s next generation car at the International Motor Sport show in Geneva, also reacted angrily to a question on Liberty Media’s decision to remove grid girls for the forthcoming F1 season.

Todt said:  “It’s a stupid problem and I have more important matters in my life to discuss than grid girls. I’m sorry that there’s been so much talk about this kind of bull****.”