Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that Ferrari could face legal action if it walks away from the sport at the end of this year.
Ahead of crisis talks between teams and FIA president Max Mosley in Monaco today, Ecclestone has upped the ante by suggesting that Ferrari would be in breach of contract if it did not enter F1 in 2010. His warning came after a French court ruled this week that agreements in place between Ferrari, Ecclestone and the FIA, which locked the team into F1 until 2012, were valid.
Ecclestone told Britain's The Times
newspaper that he was in no doubt that Ferrari had a commitment to be in F1.
"We would always respect our contracts," Ecclestone said. "And all the teams that have signed contracts with us would expect us to respect them, and we would expect the same from Ferrari. They are saying they are going to walk; we are saying we hope they respect their contract."
There are also suggestions that Ecclestone has written to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo telling him that television rights money paid to the team, believed to be worth hundreds of millions, may have to be returned if the team breaks its contract.
F1 teams are set to meet on Renault boss Flavio Briatore's yacht in Monaco on Friday afternoon to talk about their response to Mosley's refusal to compromise on plans on a £40 million ($60m) voluntary budget cap. A meeting with the FIA president is set for later in the day.