Ferrari must be kept on F1 grid beyond 2020, says Nigel Mansell

F1 cannot afford to let any manufacturer, let alone Ferrari, walk away from the sport after 2020, according to former world champion Nigel Mansell.

The sport’s owners, Liberty Media, are set to continue crunch talks with the teams during 2018 over future engine rules and budget caps as they bid to make the sport more competitive.

But Ferrari have already threatened to quit if they do not like the direction the sport takes, while Mercedes and Renault have also raised concerns about aspects of the 2021 engine proposals.

Mansell, a former race-winning Ferrari driver, says F1 needs to ensure there are more teams than the current 10.

Asked by Sky Sports News if F1 could do without Ferrari, Mansell replied: “Absolutely not. Formula 1 will have great challenges ahead if they let any manufacturer walk away.

“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.”

By reducing the cost of competing and increasing the chances of more teams winning races, F1’s bosses are hoping to entice more manufacturers on the grid in some capacity with Aston Martin and Porsche already expressing interest in the 2021 regulations.

This year will be the second in a row in which there are just 10 teams on the grid – the first time that has happened in consecutive seasons since 2004-2005.

“We’ve got a backlog of great drivers wanting to come into Formula 1 and we need more manufacturers with at least 26 cars on the grid,” added Mansell, who was part of a 30-car field when he won his world title in 1992.

“Hopefully Liberty are going to get some new regulations that everyone will embrace and there will be a more level playing field where people can be competitive.

“There is something wrong with any sport when you have, as a good or bad example, an incredible team like McLaren who have won so many world championships and an incredible manufacturer of engines like Honda, they couldn’t get it together. It shouldn’t be that difficult.”