After yet another year of taking a back seat to a sugary drinks company and German rivals Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari are threatening to quit F1 racing. Again.
Long time Formula 1 fans will remember Enzo Ferrari’s famously developed threat to quit F1 for IndyCar (called CART, back then) if the proposed 1987 rules weren’t re-written in Ferrari’s favor. Ferrari threatened to quit again in the early 2000s, when rival teams pressed forward plans to form a breakaway that threatened to end Michael Schumacher’s dominance. When Red Bull started winning everything, more Ferrari quit threats saw their man, Jean Todt, installed in the FIA and massive change to hybrid engines in 2014 that Ferrari thought would end Red Bull’s dominance.
Which, well- it did, but not in the way Ferrari expected. Now, eight Mercedes championships later, Ferrari is threatening to mask it losses with another high-profile quit threat.
Quit? Crash? What’s the Difference?
And, make no mistake, Scuderia Ferrari are losers. The team haven’t won a championship since 2007, when the warring egos of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren conspired to gift Kimi Raikkonen his one and only WDC title (and that by a single point). In 2016, they didn’t win a single race. And, sure, they looked pretty racy at the start of 2017, but Hamilton’s crown came with two races still to go and Vettel hadn’t looked like a real rival for months. All of which begs the question: should Ferrari quit?
My take? Ferrari has everything to lose- and nothing to gain!- by staying in Formula 1.
Consider the following. Ferrari has the largest budget in F1, and the most storied and successful name. Ferrari is revered as a brand that equals success and opulence- even excellence, itself- in many parts of the world. Just the other day, someone explained that their Italian briefcase was “the Ferrari” of briefcases. Many school kids still think that every exotic car they can’t identify is some kind of “Ferrari” when they see it drive past. In many ways, then, Ferrari is the standard.
How long, though, can Ferrari pretend to be the standard if it keeps getting beaten by Mercedes? By Renault? Worse! McLaren, now that McLaren is putting directly competing products on the street?
Ferrari can’t afford to keep losing. The brand can’t afford it, probably, and the egos of the men behind the company can’t withstand it, surely. Now, with Aston Martin and Porsche threatening to enter the sport in 2021 along with a possible Lotus resurgence funded by its newfound Chinese billions?
Ferrari needs to get out of F1 now, while the getting is good. And before everyone else figures out that they’ve forgotten how to win.
Original content and opinions by Gas 2.