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'Background chess match' won't see Ferrari quit F1 - Webber

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Despite its repetitive threats to quit the sport, Ferrari is very unlikely to turn its back on Grand Prix racing says Mark Webber.

The Italian outfit, through the voice of its chairman Sergio Marchionne, has expressed its grievances with Formula 1's proposed future regulations, and stated in no uncertain terms that if Ferrari's interest are no longer aligned with those of Formula 1, the prancing horse will leave the paddock.

Webber, a nine-time Grand Prix winner, says he would be "flabbergasted" if the Scuderia ultimately decided to call it a day at the end of 2020.

"It's a bit of a chess match at the moment in the background," the former Red Bull Racing driver told Melbourne newspaper The Age.

"Formula 1 has always attracted the best manufacturers in the world. They want to showcase their technology.

"It's an incredibly high-end, high-technology sport and there is a glamorous (element). I would be absolutely flabbergasted if Ferrari aren't there in '21 but never say never."

Looking back on the build-up to the 2018 season and the sport's botched first week of pre-season testing in Barcelona, which was hit by the vagaries of the weather, Webber suggests F1 consider shifting its winter preparations to the Middle-East in the future, an idea also promoted by his former Red Bull boss, Christian Horner.

The Australian Grand Prix must however remain F1's curtain-raiser round.

"I think it [Melbourne] has been so well received for two decades now. I would see absolutely no reason whatsoever to tweak that," says the 41-year-old former driver.

"We love that slot and teams are probably looking in the future to have testing in the Middle East on the way out to Australia – they [drivers] just think it's ingrained that Australia is the first race.

"This year was a disaster in Europe in many ways, especially the first week, which was snowed off. That, obviously, brought the topic back on the table."

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