Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone following the former F1 supremo's controversial comments of last week. Marchionne said the newly 87-year-old Ecclestone's claim that Ferrari received help to be more competitive from the former F1 boss, the FIA and even Mercedes is "hogwash". "I think it's called pure hogwash," said the Italian-Canadian.
Ecclestone had claimed Ferrari got help from several parties over the years to succeed, but Marchionne hit back: "I think Bernie has to thank Ferrari for giving him the chance to run formula one and, thanks to our assistance, become a billionaire. God bless him. He has done so much for this sport, but also Ferrari did so much for formula one," he added.
Marchionne's comments come as Ecclestone's accusations of Ferrari-Mercedes collusion deepen. Forbes' F1 business journalist Christian Sylt has now published a 2016 statement from Ecclestone that quotes the diminutive Briton as saying: "Ferrari, with help from Mercedes, have caught up. Between them ... they control the championship. The only competition is between Mercedes and Ferrari," Ecclestone added. "Who knows what agreement there was or is for now to help Ferrari."
Marchionne has also hit out at Chase Carey, who is Ecclestone's successor. The Ferrari president warns that Maranello will not automatically sign up for Liberty Media's post-2020 vision of formula one. "If we do things well, I'm willing to talk about anything," he said. "But if we start making formula one just a cheap business deal, I'm not interested," added Marchionne.
"One must be rational -- F1 is still part of Ferrari's history and I have every intention of protecting its involvement in the sport. But not at any cost or purely for commercial reasons. There is a noble aspect to formula one -- it's a sport unlike the others so it cannot be commercialised like everything else," Marchionne added.
Finally, the Ferrari chief referred to Sebastian Vettel losing the 2017 world championship and said heads at Maranello "are already in 2018". "The important thing now is to have learned the maximum possible from what we did wrong this year," said Marchionne. "Last night I spoke with (Mercedes CEO) Dieter Zetsche and despite being ruthless competitors on the track, we are friends. He acknowledged that we had bad luck this year and there would be different results if what happened in Asia didn't happen." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing