Mercedes‘ Formula One executive director Toto Wolff, has warned the sport’s bosses not to provoke Ferrari amid difficult negotiations over the sports’ future, engines and new manufacturers.

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Ferrari threatened to quit F1 if they do not like the proposed changes to the sport from 2020, including possibly smaller engines which could include standardised features. The move is one intended to lower running costs for manufacturers and level the playing field in the sport, as proposed by the sport’s owners Liberty Media and the governing body (FIA).

The changes would take place after the current contracts finish at 2020, and would anger the four teams who supply engines – Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Honda. The teams have spent significantly more in engine development over the years than other manufacturers, and could see that investment wasted.

The BBC reports Mercedes’ director Toto Wolff warning bosses: “Marchionne has a clear vision of what F1 should represent for Ferrari, which is a purist sport that isn’t a shopping channel.

“I would strongly encourage the sport’s stakeholders not to provoke him.”

Ferrari rumblings

Ferrari have been frequently reported as complaining over the new proposals for the motorsport in recent months. The team has a veto over new regulation changes that they are unhappy with and exercised it in 2015 when they blocked proposals for a maximum price on engines and gearboxes.

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It was reported in late 2017 that during a media conference call, Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne said that the team were unlikely to agree with the regulations reducing their advantage: “Liberty has got a couple of good intentions with this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution for the teams, which is good. There’s a couple of things we don’t necessarily agree with.”

Ferrari Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne
Ferrari Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne. (LUCA BRUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

“I think it needs to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.”

Last month Formula One former chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told The Sunday Times that Marchionne’s words could be more than grandstanding: “Some people have in mind a new series. Marchionne has spoken to other people.

“If he got up in the morning and decided to leave, he would leave. If the FIA don’t do what he thinks is right — and which would benefit Ferrari — he would leave.

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