What will this mean for Ferrari road cars once they're no longer pumped full of F1 tech?
A company’s founding philosophy says quite a lot about the product it sells. Take Starbucks for example. It doesn’t just sell coffee, it sells a lifestyle and an experience. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are good, but not good enough on their own to create an entire pumpkin-spiced empire once a year. It's Starbuck's brand, forged by the experience and lifestyle it sells, that makes the flavor synonymous with the entire fall season to customers. And while Ferrari is no Starbucks, its founding principals lend a huge clue to how it does business.
Enzo Ferrari didn’t want to build excellent cars out of the goodness of his heart. He wanted to do it so that suckers would pay his company the millions of dollars required to compete in the Formula 1 series. It just so happened that wanting to win by any means necessary translates well to the supercar business. Same goes for the Formula 1 business, but now that Ferrari is not winning, its is threatening to quit the series altogether. Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone now thinks that Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne’s claims should be taken seriously, according to The Independent. The reports aren’t exactly anything new. The Prancing Horse hasn’t won an F1 race since 2008 and it’s aching for a victory.
Ferrari is the only Formula 1 team to be in the series since its inception in 1950 and in light of recent proposals to alter the bonus structure—which favors Ferrari to the tune of tens of millions of dollars—as well as to impose budget caps in order to restructure the series and make it more appealing to the masses, Marchionne has threatened to pull out entirely. He said that F1 “has been part of our DNA since the day we were born but if we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognizable sandbox, I don’t want to play anymore.” Marchionne’s comments can’t be blamed entirely on the changes to F1’s funding structure. Upcoming changes to engine regulations are uniting teams, Ferrari and Mercedes included, in their disagreement with the design.
This last season saw F1 cars running with 1.6-liter V6 engines mated to electric drivetrains for hybrid power. The new rules call for ditching the electric portion of the drivetrain and altering the V6, but teams claim they would rather keep the electric portion of the drivetrain and improve on the technology. If Ferrari pulls out, its engineers could lose the competitive edge that intense and demanding F1 schedules and regulations bring out of them. That same edge has resulted in the emergence of some of the greatest automotive technologies. Fret not, however, because just as unlikely as Ferrari actually pulling out of F1 is Ferrari losing its edge on the track. Or so we think.