Ferrari could walk away from Formula One if budget caps are slashed following the coronavirus pandemic

Team principal Binotto says that huge financial restrictions could devalue the sport

File Photo: F1 Personnel MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari prepares to drive on the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 08, 2019 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has warned the team could walk away from Formula One if budget caps are slashed following the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year teams agreed to a budget cap of $175 million (Dh643m) for 2021 but, with the sport on hiatus and several teams needing to furlough staff during the shutdown, there have been suggestions that could be cut further.

According to reports, discussions last week suggested the cap for 2021 could be cut to $145m and then to $130m for 2022.

No agreement was reached and, in an interview with The Guardian, Binotto said he believes such restrictions could devalue the sport.

"The $145m level is already a new and demanding request compared to what was set out last June," he said.

"It cannot be attained without further significant sacrifices, especially in terms of our human resources.

"If it was to get even lower, we would not want to be put in a position of having to look at other further options for deploying our racing DNA.

"F1 has to be the pinnacle of motor sport in terms of technology and performance. It must be attractive for the car manufacturers and the sponsors who want to be linked to this most prestigious category.

"If we restrict costs excessively then we run the risk of reducing the level considerably, bringing it ever closer to the lower formulae."

Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc says he would be happy to have Sebastian Vettel continue as his Ferrari team mate next season, despite their clashes on track last year.

Vettel, 32, is out of contract at the end of 2020 but Ferrari have said he is their first choice, subject to negotiations, to partner the young Monegasque whose deal runs until 2024.

A decision could come before the start of a season stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reports in Italy have suggested, however, that Ferrari also have Renault's Australian Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren's Spaniard Carlos Sainz in mind as leading alternatives if a deal falls through.

"I am very happy with Seb," Leclerc told reporters in a virtual news conference. "It [the relationship] was good even though we’ve had some few problems on the track, like in Brazil.

"I think it has always been a good relationship even though from the outside it was probably not seen as it was but it’s always been good between us."

Leclerc beat Vettel on race wins, poles, points and podiums last year in what seemed at times an uneasy pairing of a hungry young gun with a champion used to having top billing at Maranello.

They clashed on track on occasions, with their radio comments making headlines.

"I will respect Ferrari’s decision for whoever is next to me and at the end it’s my job to adapt to the person next to me and you can always learn from whoever is your team mate," said Leclerc. "I will welcome anybody. But if Seb stays I will definitely be happy."