Marchionne’s decision to bring the Alfa name back to F1 as title sponsor of Sauber came just weeks after he had threatened to quit F1 in the event of the engine rules being ‘dumbed down’ too much.

But Marchionne warned that Alfa’s return to the top echelon of the sport should not be seen as a ringing endorsement by his company of the current state of affairs in F1. At the launch of the Alfa/Sauber team, the Ferrari boss stressed that he remained concerned about the direction the sport was heading.

"We have a dialogue that is evolving, and we still have some time to find points of contact between our differences," said Marchionne at the Alfa launch.

"Our position is clear, though: the agreement that we made with Sauber expires in 2020, just in case Ferrari is not in F1 [after that date].

"This possibility is serious. The differences are not small, but Chase [Carey, boss of new F1 owners Liberty Media] and I share the belief that we should find a meeting point for the good of the sport.

"We have been very clear on the points that Ferrari cannot give up: the importance of the development of technology is essential for us. We cannot make the cars equal to the point that they can no longer be recognisable on the technological front.

"The heart of Ferrari is technical development. If the direction is not this, then Ferrari will find other contexts to demonstrate its skill on track – and maybe at that time we will also be with Sauber.

"We have doubled the efforts to find a solution with Chase, but we have no way given up our goals."