The rumors have been fueled by two developments. On the one hand, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo has repeatedly expressed his disapproval with the FIA – presided over by his long-time protégé Jean Todt – over the current regulations that have restricted the teams to using what he views as lackluster turbocharged V6 engines.
On the other, the team's # 1 driver Fernando Alonso was on hand at the Circuit de la Sarthe last weekend to wave the flag to start the 24 Hours of Le Mans, fueling speculation that the company could switch from F1 to Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship, where the rules are more flexible. The AF Corse team closely affiliated with the factory finished first in the LMGTE Pro category at Le Mans this year with a Ferrari 458 Italia.
It has been years since Ferrari competed at the top level in sports car racing, and while it dominated Le Mans with six consecutive victories in the early 1960s and continued to notch victories in endurance racing for several more years, Le Mans was won four years in a row by Ford before the Italian team left the field. Le Mans has subsequently been dominated by well-known marques like Porsche and, more recently, Audi. Of course Ferrari could technically compete in both forms of motorsport, but major automakers seldom if ever field works entries in both.
This isn't the first time Ferrari has hinted at leaving F1 behind, first with the threat of forming a break-away series when Bernie Ecclestone proved intractable and more recently with rumors of the team's moving to Le Mans. For its part, Ferrari insists in the statement below that it is in F1 for the long haul, and has indeed remained the one constant on the grid since the formation of the series.
Maranello, 15 June – Ferrari has had Formula 1 coursing through its veins for over half a century and that's why it has decided to make a move to turn the sport away from the wrong turn it appears to have taken.
The Maranello marque has decided to do this through the means of a formal act, which is a concrete proposal, in the form of a letter from its President Luca di Montezemolo to the Formula 1 rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone and to Donald McKenzie, the president of the company that owns Formula 1. It is not an ultimatum, nor a threat, but a proposal to call together all the key players in the sport to sit down around a table and come up with new ideas that will see Formula 1 continue to set the benchmark in motorsport, on level terms with global events such as the Olympics and the football World Cup.
The President wants to see a collective brainstorming from the group to act for the good of Formula 1. Contributions from all areas are of value; teams, sponsors, promoters and media, so that the key values of Formula 1 can be reestablished. President Montezemolo would also like to see other high-end players invited, those who are currently not involved or only partially so; new media, social networks and colossi such as Google and Apple.
Formula 1 has to be based on technical innovation, research and development, but this must all be done with sustainable costs and above all, must be moved forward as part of a product that can put on a show. Because it is the show that draws in the commercial partners, the sponsors and, above all, the fans, who are the real end users of the Formula 1 product.
Finding the right mix of these ingredients will be vital for the sustainability and the future success of our much-loved sport.