Honda’s exit from F1 shows why Ferrari right of veto is not a privilege

Honda’s withdrawal from F1 at the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season proves the fickleness of the engine manufacturers in their approach to the GP world: they enter whenever they want to make big marketing operations and leave suddenly without giving valid justifications. In this framework we understand the value Ferrari represents in F1, a team that has never betrayed Formula 1 and we understand why the veto granted to Maranello is a right and not a privilege.

The issue of the right of veto from which Ferrari benefits cyclically reappears among the most discussed topics in the paddock. No other team enjoys this privilege, and over the years there have been opponents who have tried to question the benefit enjoyed by the Scuderia. Even during the drafting of the last Concordia pact there have been those who pointed the finger against the veto power in the hands of il Cavallino, judging it an unfounded ‘plus’, which in 2020 should no longer be guaranteed. The accusation is always the same: why is Ferrari still considered a different reality than the rest of the teams?

The reasons are actually many, and one of the most important has emerged today clearly, when Honda announced yet another withdrawal from Formula 1. Just over ten years ago, at the turn of 2008 and 2009, a series of decisions taken by the boards of directors of Honda, BMW and Toyota came to a head. A few lines to say that their presence in Formula 1 was revoked, with all the consequences of the case. The manufacturers have undoubtedly brought considerable benefits to Formula 1, with huge capital investments that have allowed the development of many aspects, but there is a downside.

For these groups Formula 1 is a challenge, a technical and marketing exercise, but as such it is also a program that can be cut at any time, regardless of the results obtained.

If a board of directors decides to reduce expenses, the Formula 1 project is just a branch that can be cut easily, without notice or second thoughts. The consequences? They are not of interest to those who leave. The problems that these sudden decisions create for those who manage Formula 1 are tremendous, with teams that risk being blown up, hundreds of jobs at risk, single-seaters that remain without engines, a fleet that is in danger of shrinking etc.

In the case of Ferrari this is not the case. The origins of the Scuderia clearly say that the embryo of an extraordinary story was precisely the sports program, from which the reality of the production of mass-produced cars later took shape. Formula 1 for Ferrari is not one of the many branches of the company, but a key element, the lintel of the structure, and has never been questioned even when things were not going well in Maranello.

When at the beginning of the 80s Bernie Ecclestone granted Enzo Ferrari the right of veto, he had fully grasped this aspect, that is the importance of a constant presence over time, which differs from the realities of car manufacturers that come and go according to interests and economic situations. Ferrari is something that Formula 1 can count on over time, and this has an enormous value for those who manage this sport.

Obviously when the representatives of teams, FIA and commercial rights holder sit around a table to make decisions, everyone has the same weight, but when you touch on issues involving the ‘DNA’ of Formula 1, it is right that the opinion of those who have always been in this sport has a different weight, because different is the weight that Ferrari gives to its presence in Formula 1.

The news the out of the blue struck today on Formula 1 is a clear example of this. For Honda the program in F1 is something you can give up, and the same goes for Mercedes and Renault, who in the past have said goodbye and then returned. For Ferrari no, and it is right that the Scuderia is concretely recognized the value of its history, a value that for Formula 1 is a tremendously important guarantee on which to plan the future.

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