Sports News

Ferrari F1 quit talk is bluster, says Horner

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Ferrari and Formula One need each other just as much and the Italian glamor team’s latest threat to leave after 2020 sounds like bluster, Red Bull principal Christian Horner said on Friday.

Formula One F1 - Brazilian Grand Prix 2017 - Sao Paulo, Brazil - November 10, 2017. Ferrari Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland during first practice. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne last week warned that his team could walk away, when current contracts expire, if they disagreed with the direction the sport was taking under new U.S.-based owners Liberty Media.

Ferrari have made similar threats in the past under different management and Horner, whose team were champions for four years in a row between 2010-13, was skeptical about the fresh warning.

“They’ll bluster that they don’t need Formula One, but what other form of motor racing is going to give Ferrari the platform that Formula One does?,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after first practice at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

“The two go hand-in-hand together and have done since the beginning of the championship (in 1950). Nobody wants to lose Ferrari. And I don’t think Ferrari can afford to lose Formula One,” added the Briton.

“So there’ll be a lot of brinkmanship and chest-puffing at the moment. But I think when the music stops, they’ll be there.”

Horner suggested also that Marchionne’s response was part of a bigger picture that includes possible changes to the distribution of revenues.

Ferrari currently receive a bigger share than any team due to their historic status as the sport’s oldest and most successful entrant, and will be resistant to taking any reduction.

Former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who dealt with Ferrari for decades under late founder Enzo and then Luca di Montezemolo, told Reuters this week that Marchionne’s words should be heeded however.

“The difference is that Sergio wasn’t the guy in control before,” said the 87-year-old, who was ousted by Liberty in January. “If he decides that’s what he’s going to do, that’s what he’ll do.”

“The world is changing an awful lot. So things that you would say would never happen, may happen.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by William Maclean