Red Horse Rules
Ferrari have received the green light from the FIA to modify their 2010 V8 powerplant, which has suffered from consistent reliability issues so far this season.
In an unprecedented move, the FIA have permitted the Scuderia to make some internal changes to the design of the unit, which has suffered a number of high-profile failures. This raised the possibility that Fernando Alonso in particular might not have enough engines to last the season.
In F1, The Rules are constantly changing. They change them every year to hamstring the stronger teams and help the weaker ones. It's sort of like the draft in the NFL. They want to boost the lower ranked teams to make the whole thing more appealing to fans. Nobody wants to see the same team win year after year. Unless that team is Ferrari. F1 fans even have a name for it, "Red Horse Rules". When the rules are different for Ferrari some will shrug and say, "whaddaya gonna do? Red horse rules."
This year Ferrari's new engine design is plagued with reliability problems. This is highly unusual for the most seasoned and winningest team in F1. They NEVER have reliability problems. It's one of the key reasons they win so often. They're damn good at this and they've been doing it for ages. For drivers and engineers alike, working for Ferrari is the pinnacle of achievement. For a driver to win at Monte Carlo while driving for Ferrari, I daresay everything after that is a let down. Some have even said that their first such win rivaled their feelings of winning their first world championship. If Ferrari was prohibited from making engine changes they would tank and take a great many (Italian) fans with them. That would be an economic hit for the sport, not just the team. The team can take the hit more than the sport itself which is already plagued with profitability problem. (We'll get to that in the next post)
So, it seems that F1 needs Ferrari slightly more than Ferrari needs F1. Which is why the changes are being allowed. They'll cite "safety" as the chief concern as that is the only way changes are allowed by rule. The other thing to consider is that there are other teams with Ferrari motors in them. The cost of developing a motor is in the millions of dollars. To offset those costs manufacturers will often sell their motors to other teams. Usually the teams at the bottom rungs of the ladder. This helps keep the sport interesting and keeps the teams behind Ferrari looking in their rearview mirror and not on the car in front of them.
If they didn't allow the engine change you'd see those bottom teams dropping out also making the races even more boring. The only passing would be lapping and nobody wants to see that.
In the end, F1 probably didn't have much choice from an economic standpoint. The other team owners understand this which is why they're not suing F1 over the change.
Red Horse Rules may exist but in this case there's not much they could do otherwise.