Here’s a quote for you: ‘Ferrari announced that they were withdrawing from Grand Prix racing until such time as the rule book and the regulations were put in order.’ Sounds like it could have been made this week doesn’t it? In fact it comes from James Hunt’s excellent autobiography written straight after the 1976 season. It goes on to say that ‘the news was taken with a pinch of salt in quarters where such Ferrari withdrawals had been seen and heard before.’
Just about the only thing common to every single year in F1 since the inception of the championship 60 seasons ago is the presence of prancing horses on the grid. Whatever threats have been made in the past, to date not one of them has been carried out.
Is Ferrari serious this time? Almost certainly. Could the sport survive with it? Almost certainly. F1 without Ferrari may be unthinkable, but that does not make it impossible. I think it would be a mistake to think that any single organisation might be bigger than the sport and for me, the best thing about F1 at present is that neither Ferrari nor McLaren is in the reckoning at the moment. Don’t misunderstand me, my blood runs as red as anyone’s, but I’m enjoying F1 more than ever at the moment, despite the fact the cars I most want to win are having the season from hell.
In the end, it’s hard to conclude anything other than, however much F1 might need Ferrari, Ferrari needs F1 more. And I hope and believe that, one way or another, when they line up on the grid for the first race of 2010, the red cars will be there, same as ever.