Ferrari are not above the sport, says Mosley

Constructor insists they may still quit sport in protest despite loss in French court
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The Independent Online

Ferrari hit back yesterday after a French court rejected their attempt to prevent Formula One's governing body introducing controversial new rules next season.

The sport's most successful and glamorous team warned in a statement at the Monaco Grand Prix that they could still pursue legal action and would carry out a threat to quit if the regulations were not rewritten.

The champions had gone to the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris to try to stop the International Automobile Federation (FIA) from pressing ahead with an optional £40m cap.

"There is no risk of any imminent damage which should be prevented, or obviously illegal trouble which should be stopped," wrote the magistrate Jacques Gondran de Robert.

The FIA president, Max Mosley, said: "No competitor should place their interests above those of the sport in which they compete. The FIA, the teams and our commercial partners will now continue to work to ensure the well-being of Formula One in 2010 and beyond."

Ferrari said they were "continuing to evaluate whether or not to continue" with legal action in the civil courts while working with other teams to reach a solution to a crisis that threatens to tear the sport apart. "The existence and validity of Ferrari's right of veto, as sanctioned in a written agreement with the FIA senate, were recognised by the court, as was the fact that this dispute is of a contractual nature," they said.

Former champions Renault and Toyota, and Red Bull's two teams have also said they cannot enter the 2010 championship under the regulations proposed while the FIA has pointed to a large number of would-be entrants eager to come in.

Ferrari said they wanted a championship where the rules were the same for everyone and where cost reductions were implemented gradually. "If it is not possible for all parties to reach agreement... Ferrari will not enter its cars in a competition that would see a watering down of the characteristics that have endowed Formula One with the status of the most important motor sport series," they said.

Ferrari's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa said that would be unthinkable, adding: "If you lose Ferrari, Formula One would not be the same".

The published 2010 regulations propose allowing teams who accept the cap greater technical freedom than those wishing to carry on with unlimited budgets. While Ferrari have said this would make it a two-tier championship they cannot accept, Formula One's chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, and Mosley have said they expect all teams to race to one set of regulations.

Before the decision was announced, Ferrari issued a statement referring to some of those who might take part in the 2010 championship if a budget cap was introduced. "Wirth Research, Lola, USF1, Epsilon Euskadi, RML, Formtech, Campos, iSport: these are the names of the teams which would compete in the two-tier Formula One wanted by Mosley. Can a world championship with teams like them – with due respect – have the same value as today's, where Ferrari, the big car manufacturers and teams, who created the history of this sport, compete?

"Wouldn't it be more appropriate to call it Formula GP3?," the statement added, placing it below the current GP2 support series.