Maranello, Sunday: Amid thinly veiled threats to leave Formula One if their demands for a rethink of budget capping are not met, Ferrari have today stated their belief that the sport “could continue to survive” even without FIA President Max Mosley.

Unnecessary: FIA President Max Mosley
Unnecessary: FIA President Max Mosley

Speaking to an Italian sensationalist rag, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo dismissed claims that Mosley’s importance was such that they would have to back down to him in the current row over cost-cutting in F1.

“Obviously it would be a great shame to lose Max, he’s been in the sport for many years and has had a big influence on the way it has been run for a long time,” Montezemolo said. “But he is not bigger than the sport, and if we were to lose him we would continue to survive. It would just be a case of adapting to a world without Max.”

Mosley began his F1 career with an involvement in the now-defunct March team, before ascending to the FIA presidency early in the 1990s. Since then, he has embarked upon a crusade to systematically run the sport into the ground in the same way that he managed with Group C sportscars and is currently doing with the World Rally Championship.

“Max’s legacy in F1 and motorsport in general will be felt for many years to come, but really it isn’t necessary for him to keep hanging around like a bad smell,” Montezemolo added, in what constituted an obvious change of tone. “I mean, a budget cap? For me? With my reputation? It makes my blood boil – where’s the nearest television set?”

Montezemolo’s fiery dismissal of Mosley’s influence in F1 was echoed by FOTA commercial head and Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, who said something incomprehensible in fractured English and then proceeded to compare Mr. Mosley to obscure items of roadside furniture.