Nigel Mansell has called on Liberty Media to do all they can to ensure Ferrari stays in Formula One beyond the 2020 season.
Liberty are currently in crunch talks with manufacturers over suggested rule changes for 2021 and beyond, including engine changes and budget caps. Ferrari, Mercedes and leading teams haven't taken too kindly to the suggested overhaul, preferring no such cap and a free spend to develop their cars.
In theory, a budget restriction should level the playing field. From Sauber through to Mercedes, ensuring a more competitive edge and opening up the possibility of more teams beyond the 'Big 3' (Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull) winning a race.
The Scuderia, Renault and Mercedes have raised concerns about the pending rule changes, with the former threatening (again) to quit the sport. Ferrari are in a unique position when it comes to bargaining power. Their threat to walkaway isn't a new one; in fact, it's there go-to weapon of choice when negotiating with the FIA.
In their mind, and its a consensus shared by the majority of the Formula One community, Ferrari is F1; without the name that is Ferrari, F1 would lose its status as the 'pinnacle of motor sport'. Such is their marketing clout, their association to the sport and the money they generate both themselves and for the FIA is unrivalled on the grid. A Formula One without Ferrari simply isn't survivable, according to the somewhat arrogant nature of Maranello.
There is a flipside to that argument, however. The emergence of both Mercedes and Red Bull, and to some extent Renault, plus the potential entry of Porsche and Alfa Romeo means that Ferrari is no longer the big name in the sport. Sure, they pull in huge sponsorship and name association, but Mercedes is the more dominant team this decade, whilst the likes of Red Bull and Renault possess huge budgets that would help prop up a Ferrari-less world.
Nonetheless, the general assumption is that Liberty will relent, ease their radical rule changes and keep Ferrari happy.
Either way, Mansell has called for more teams to join the grid beyond the current allocation of ten. The aforementioned Alfa Romeo will enter F1 in a limited capacity this season as a technical and engineering partner with Sauber, but Mansell wants more manufacturers.
"We only have 20 cars on the grid now. In the heyday there were 43 Formula 1 cars trying to qualify for 26 places. The fans worldwide are crying out to have 26 cars now. We need new drivers, new blood, new manufacturers to start competing on a level playing field."