Italians rally behind national symbol Ferrari

Italians have been speaking out in support of Ferrari in the wake of the team’s threat to pull out of Formula One next season unless the International Automobile Federation (FIA) changes its rules.

Ferrari issued a statement on Tuesday claiming they would not take part in the 2010 world championship unless the FIA reversed a budget cap ruling that would advantage teams who spent no more than £40-million a season.

And despite the gravity of their threat, they have found support from all quarters in Italy.

Gianni Petrucci, president of the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) pleaded for a compromise to be reached.

“In the name of Italian sport I call on good sense to prevail, with a restoration of those basic rules that can guarantee the presence in 2010 of the only constructor in the world that has never missed an appointment in the history of F1,” he said.

For Petrucci it is a matter of national pride that Ferrari should be an integral part of Formula One.

“[Tuesday] was a sad day for Italian sport. The potential that the Scuderia of Maranello would miss out on the world championship in 2010 is certainly something that saddens not only me but millions of sports fans and Italian fans for whom the Reds represent a legend.

“With all its titles Ferrari represents a part of the history of sport in our country and has contributed to the joy of winning through all its success and trophies that have no equal in Formula One.”

Giorgio Pighi, the mayor of Modena, which is close to Ferrari’s base at Maranello, said an F1 championship without Ferrari was “unthinkable”.

“The absence of Ferrari from the highest level of motoring competition would be a huge loss for the territory of Modena in terms of prestige, technological development and also jobs of the highest quality,” lamented Pighi.

“I don’t even want to think that this could be the epilogue of a story that has lasted for 60 years.

“But I also understand the Ferrari directors’ reasons in the face of rules that are constantly changing and which don’t help the company to do its job, which is working towards the development and continual improvement of the product and its performance.”

Ferrari’s statement on Tuesday heavily criticised the FIA for the arbitrary manner it makes sweeping changes to the sport and threatened a pull-out.

“The rules of governance that have contributed to the development of Formula One over the last 25 years have been disregarded, as have the binding contractual obligations between Ferrari and the FIA itself regarding the stability of the regulations,” said Ferrari.

“The same rules for all teams, stability of regulations, the continuity of the Fota [Formula One Teams Association] endeavours to methodically and progressively reduce costs, and governance of Formula One are the priorities for the future.

“If these indispensable principles are not respected and if the regulations adopted for 2010 will not change, then Ferrari does not intend to enter its cars in the next Formula One World Championship.”

On the team’s own website forums, fans have supported their decision while venting their wrath at FIA chief Max Mosley, who earlier this month claimed F1 could survive without the Italian team.

“The board’s decision has made me happy. I agree with Ferrari’s choice, it’s time for Mosley to resign,” wrote one contributor identified only as Giampiero.

However, prior to Tuesday’s statement F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone called for everyone to stay calm and expressed his belief that Ferrari would not quit F1, telling the Times: “Ferrari are not stupid.
They don’t want to leave Formula One and we don’t want to lose them, so we’ll get to grips with it.”

Several other teams such as Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Toyota have all said they too would consider withdrawing if the rules aren’t changed.—Sapa-AFP

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