Ferrari planned F1 departure

Ferrari managing director Jean Todt has claimed that the recent $100 million incentive payment offered to the team by Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to renew its commitment to compete in the FIA championship saved the Italian car manufacturer from having to leave the series.

Ferrari planned F1 departure

The controversial deal has drawn harsh criticism for both Ferrari, which has left its GPWC co-founders high and dry to arrange a deal without the support of the reigning champions, and Ecclestone, who has been accused of engaging once again in divide and conquer tactics.

"We are a small company and we have to cover the costs of Formula 1," Todt claimed in an interview with The Times. "We discussed very often leaving Formula 1 because it was costing too much money. Ferrari could have been in a position to stop being in Formula 1 - yes, that is sure. The trend of the evolution of rising costs without extra revenues put the question on the agenda. At the end of the day, we have to act in the interests of Ferrari."

The Italian team, which is owned by global automotive giant Fiat, has traditionally had a far larger budget than any of its rivals, with a string of multinational sponsors and a history of disposing of smaller, long term supporting companies for newer, larger sponsors.

Todt claimed that, in making the deal with Ecclestone, Ferrari has led the way to an improved deal for the other nine teams. "Sooner or later, the reality and the logic will take over. I understand that, for some, it doesn't make sense, but it will." Todt noted, before acknowledging his principal rationale behind the deal.

"We needed to agree the future for the sake of security. We couldn't just go off blind in a new direction and it was up to us to secure the future of Ferrari inside Formula 1."

Todt's comments are in line with Ferrari's traditional line in the sport - team founder Enzo Ferrari, for example, refused to send his cars to the first ever world championship race, the British Grand Prix in 1950, because he felt that his team wasn't being adequately remunerated. The powers that be relented and the Ferraris were in Monaco for the next round.

With less than a month to go until the opening round of this year's championship it remains to be seen if the other nine teams will be quite so accepting of Ferrari's deal this time around.

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