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Ferrari says Formula 1 quit threat still serious despite Alfa deal

Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Abu Dhabi F1 test 2017

Ferrari's threat to pull out of Formula 1 after 2020 remains serious, says its president Sergio Marchionne, regardless of the decision to bring sister brand Alfa Romeo back with Sauber.

Marchionne gave the green light last week for Alfa Romeo to become title sponsor of the Sauber team, in a commercial deal that includes technical cooperation between the two parties.

That apparent show of faith in the F1 brand by Marchionne has raised some eyebrows because it came just a few weeks after he had threatened to leave the championship if engine rules are dumbed down too much.

Speaking at the launch event for the Alfa Romeo return at the weekend, where he met F1 chairman Chase Carey, Marchionne insisted that concerns about the direction F1 was heading in had not changed at all.

He said efforts to find a solution that could ensure Ferrari's long-term F1 commitment had increased, but underlined that his firm could not accept certain rule changes.

"We have a dialogue that is evolving, and we still have some time to find points of contact between our differences," said Marchionne.

"Our position is clear, though: the agreement that we made with Sauber expires in 2020, just in case [after that date] Ferrari is not in F1.

Sauber Alfa launch

"This possibility is serious. The differences are not small, but Chase and I share the belief that we should find a meeting point for the good of the sport.

"We have been very clear on the points that Ferrari cannot give up: the importance of the development of technology is essential for us. We cannot make the cars equal to the point that they can no longer be recognisable on the technological front.

"The heart of Ferrari is technical development. If the direction is not this, then Ferrari will find other contexts to demonstrate its skill on track - and maybe at that time we will also be with Sauber.

"We have doubled the efforts to find a solution with Chase, but we have no way given up our goals."

As well as concerns about simpler engines, Marchionne has also expressed doubts about plans to bring a budget cap into F1.

Liberty Media is planning to sit down with teams this winter to discuss the concept in detail, but Marchionne is not convinced that it can be effectively policed.

"I'm the first to want to reduce expenses, because it is a sport that knows no bounds," he said.

"But trying to manage a budget cap is almost impossible.

"We, for example, have a number of people of the GT programme that at times also operate in the context of Formula 1, so it is almost impossible to control the management of staff."

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