Ferrari and Fernando Alonso are both refusing to blink in this financially-fueled standoff.
Fernando Alonso has been the face of Ferrari F1 since he won his first race in his first start for the prancing horses back in 2010. Following a horrid year that has seen top Ferrari executives put on the chopping block, he's decided to walk away ... But not before he fills up his pockets.
So here's the situation in the most basic form possible ... We have Ferrari and we have Alonso. Okay, moving on...
The two are currently in a standoff. Sitting between them is a bag full of money and they both want it. Alonso's contract with Maranello goes through 2016 and if it is Ferrari who legally announces the split, they will be forced to pay the Spaniard tens of millions of euros, as they did with Raikkonen in 2009. If it's Alonso who pulls the trigger, he can do whatever he wants, but with a much lighter wallet.
It's all about the money
Ferrari doesn't want to pay somebody to race for another team, especially after dishing out an absurd amount to Sebastian Vettel, speculated to be upwards of $80 million US dollars. In my opinion, Alonso is worth ten Vettels but that's a discussion for another day.
This news was revealed in an earlier Motorsport.com story. What that piece didn't hit on is why Ferrari may be holding out. Alonso seems to have them in a proverbial 'checkmate.' All he has to do is wait.
Is Ferrari in checkmate, or do they have an ace up their sleeve?
However, Ferrari could be holding out for as long as possible, because there's a chance they could still squeak out of paying. They are waiting in the hope that Bernie enforces three-cars for 2015.
Two race teams are on the edge of collapse, missing Austin, and others are not far behind. Should three-car teams be implemented, we then have a very interesting situation. Alonso loses his leverage and will be forced to walk with nothing. On the flip side, he'd most likely end up at Mercedes if three cars were to happen, which isn't a bad deal at all. That could also be one of the contributing factors regarding why negotiations with McLaren are at a standstill. I would be shocked if he stayed at Ferrari as a teammate to Vettel/Raikkonen.
Where will he be when the smoke clears? Nobody knows
There's rumors that Ferrari will just get it over with this weekend with an announcement in Austin, admitting defeat and losing a lot of money. If three-car teams are not employed, I honestly can't say where the best driver in Formula One will end up.
McLaren? A third Mercedes? Buying into Lotus? Audi at Le Mans? Joining Audi in a new F1 venture? Riding his bicycle someplace? Your guess is as good as mine.
It's all just one big Chess game...