Ferrari really could lead breakaway series, warns Ecclestone

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Former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has issued another warning to the sport not to take Ferrari for granted.

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has repeatedly warned that the Scuderia might pull out of F1 after 2020 if new owners Liberty don't change their plans for its future direction.

Ferrari is the only team to have taken part in every world championship since it began in 1950.

Ecclestone says that Formula 1 mustn't take them for granted or assume that they're just sabre rattling. He added that if Ferrari did break away and set up a rival series, it would be a major threat to F1.

"If the FIA don’t do what [Sergio] thinks is right — and what would benefit Ferrari — he would go," Ecclestone warned. He was talking to reporters at his private offices in central London this week.

“I don’t think he does things unless he is serious. And he is not the sort of guy who doesn’t do what he says he is going to do.

"The bottom line is simple: Formula 1 is Ferrari, and Ferrari is Formula 1," the 87-year-old continued. "Go anywhere in the world and they don’t think about Ferrari road cars - it is Formula 1.

"I would hate to see Formula 1 without Ferrari," he added. "No promoter would be happy to see Ferrari leave.

“Some people have a new series in mind,” Ecclestone noted. "Sergio has spoken to other people about it.

"They would join Ferrari immediately, if a new series started with the same elements as now but was cheaper for the racetracks."

Ecclestone also predicted that a Vietnam Grand Prix could be on the cards in the near future.

“I think you’re going to get a race in Vietnam,” he said. "They haven’t made a contract yet as far as I know. But if they have, it’s at least two years away isn’t it?"

Ecclestone revealed last year that he had vetoed a race in the country that was reported to be worth $375 million.

Current Formula 1 bosses have spoken of their desire to get the sport into more iconic Asian venues. Ho Chi Minh City has been mooted as a possible street circuit venue.

F1 is looking to replace Malaysia on the world championship calendar. The country held its last Grand Prix in 2017 after deciding not to renew its costly contract.

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