OCTOBER 17, 2002
Now let's get real, shall we?
This week the big kerfuffle in Formula 1 circles is an apparent threat by Ferrari to race elsewhere if certain proposals suggested by the FIA are voted through by the F1 Commission on October 28. This is about as credible as the proposal to institute a system in which drivers switch between teams in the course of a season. It is not going to happen.
Why? Because Ferrari needs Formula 1 as much as Formula 1 needs Ferrari. Without F1 why would rich people buy over-priced cars produced in Maranello? The magic that is Ferrari would slip away and it would be just like Lamborghini or any other supercar company. The art of selling such exotic machines is not in the quality of the machine but rather in the brand. People will pay silly money to be associated with the right brand. And the Ferrari brand is based very firmly in Formula 1.
It is not the first time have seen such threats from Maranello. Back in the mid 1980s when the FIA announced plans to ban the turbocharged engines of the day, Ferrari threatened to switch to CART. To push the point Enzo Ferrari sent his emissary Marco Piccinini to the CART event at Michigan and this was followed by a visit to Maranello by CART team boss Jim Trueman. A couple of months later Bobby Rahal, Trueman's driver, showed up at Fiorano and tested a March Indycar and through the winter of 1985-86 Ferrari kept up the pressure on the FIA, with teams of engineers building not only a Ferrari CART engine but also a chassis. It was not until the middle of 1986 that a compromise was reached. The Ferrari Indycar chassis was built but never raced while the engine was handed over to Alfa Romeo and competed in CART in 1990 and 1991 although without much success.
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