Ferrari is considering entering IndyCar in 2022 as it reacts to Formula One’s plans to introduce a $145 million budget cap.
In an interview with Sky Italia, team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed IndyCar and the top level of the World Endurance Championship were under consideration as parallel racing programmes alongside F1. He explained that such a move was under consideration in order to create jobs for staff members that are likely to be made redundant by the spending cuts needed to meet F1’s new budget cap in 2021.
“Ferrari feels a lot of social responsibility towards its employees and we want to make sure there will be a workspace for each of them in the future,” Binotto said.
The Ferrari team boss said an IndyCar programme would represent a big undertaking for the team, which has competed in F1 since 1950, but that the series’ move to hybrid engines in 2022 would create some crossovers.
“We have started to evaluate alternative programs, and I confirm that we are looking at IndyCar, which is currently a very different category from ours but with a change of regulation scheduled in 2022,” Binotto added. “We also observe the world of endurance racing and other series [as options].
“We will try to make the best choice.”
Ferrari has been a vocal opponent of F1’s plans to lower next year’s budget cap from $175m to $145m, which is aimed at easing the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on teams. The reduction in the cap will impact F1’s three biggest teams the most and is expected to result in redundancies as they make cuts to fall within the $145m target.
“In recent weeks there has been a lot of discussion about the downsizing of the budget available for Formula One teams,” Binotto added. “A conclusion has now been reached. The limit of $175m that had been defined and voted [in 2019] will be lowered to $145m.
“At Ferrari we were structuring ourselves based on the budget approved last year, and the further reduction represents an important challenge that will inevitably lead to review staff, structure and organisation.”
As well as creating jobs, a move to IndyCar could be seen as a political powerplay by Ferrari, which has exclusively run its single-seater cars in F1 since 1950. Having Ferraris race in the American series would take away one of F1’s unique selling points in an important market for owners Liberty Media.
What’s more, the promise of racing in Stateside is not new. In 1986, the team’s founder, Enzo Ferrari, decided to build a car to CART regulations in the U.S., which was widely seen as a protest against planned F1 engine rules at the time. The car was completed and ran at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, but never raced in competition under the Ferrari name.