Formula One could live without Ferrari if they were to walk away in protest at the introduction of a budget cap, according to International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley.
In an interview published in Saturday's Financial Times, Mosley said that he is locked in a power struggle that he intends to win.
He made clear that he would not be backing down over allowing teams to compete with a voluntary 40 million pound ($59.56 million) cap in 2010 in exchange for greater technical freedom than others remaining with unrestricted budgets.
The move, described by Mosley as "by far the biggest development in my time in the sport", has been welcomed by potential new entries as well as independent teams pitted against big-spending manufacturers.
However, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo wrote to Mosley this week warning against creating a two-tier Formula One that could be "fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased."
Montezemolo has also warned that Ferrari's continued presence should not be taken for granted.
"I personally have a lot of passion and Ferrari has a lot of passion, but this is not a never-ending story," the official Formula One website quoted him as saying.
The glamour team have been in Formula One since the first championship race in 1950 and, with the Monaco Grand Prix, have long been seen as the jewels in the crown. They have been champions eight times in the last 10 years.
"The sport could survive without Ferrari," said Mosley, adding: "It would be very, very sad to lose Ferrari. It is the Italian national team."
Mosley said there are "elements among existing teams" who felt that the teams should be running Formula One rather than the FIA or Bernie Ecclestone, who represents the commercial rights holders CVC.
"The last thing they want is new teams that dilute what they've got," added the Briton, who has expanded the starting grid to allow for three new cost-capped teams next year. "There is that going on in the background.
"There is an element of who is running F1. I'd like to make sure it's me."
Mosley said the message he was getting from the board of two or three of the major carmakers is that they would commit long-term if costs are reduced dramatically.
He added that the cost cap could go up or down in future, depending on the financial climate and warned that the sport should be prepared for much tougher times ahead.
"The credit crunch hasn't really hit F1 yet," he said. "Obviously we lost Honda, but the real crunch will come when current [sponsorship] contracts come to be renewed.
"At the moment you see ING, RBS, Allianz, big sponsors, but they wouldn't be here this year if they didn't have a binding contract.
"Those contracts were signed before their share prices took a dump. I believe [Ecclestone's Formula One Management] FOM will not be able to give the teams as much money as they have."