FIA president Jean Todt believes Ferrari will suffer if they follow through with their threat to leave Formula One.
Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne raised the possibility of the famous Italian constructor quitting the sport if Liberty Media, F1's new American owners, go ahead with their proposed engine changes.
The owners are keen to make the engines cheaper, in hope of levelling a playing field which favours the wealthier teams, but Ferrari have voiced their concern, as have Mercedes and Renault.
However, Ferrari - the only team to have contested every F1 season since the sport's inception in 1950 - have been the most vocal in their opposition.
But Todt, a key figure in the Ferrari revival which culminated in Michael Schumacher winning five consecutive world titles, thinks his former team will be making the wrong decision if they act on their ultimatum.
"I am afraid to see Ferrari or Mercedes leaving," Todt said ahead of tomorrow's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. "That is their choice, but what is sure is that we do not want anybody to leave.
"Ferrari is an iconic brand which has been part of every single Formula One championship since it started, so I do not want to see them leave.
"But I am not sure that it will be a good thing for Ferrari to exit Formula One. It is a unique brand so it will be painful for them not to be involved in the sport."
Todt, the 71-year-old Frenchman who took over from Max Mosley at the helm of the FIA in 2009, will run unopposed for a third term as president of the sporting federation.
He is keen to work in unison with Liberty Media, and despite concerns over their suitability, Todt is confident the American organisation have the right people in place to lead the sport forward after they deposed of the long-standing Bernie Ecclestone in January.
"Clearly it has been a big change," Todt added. "We had Bernie for many years, and Bernie was Bernie. He led the empire and a lot of what he have here is a tribute to what he did.
"But Liberty are a strong group. Chase Carey is a great CEO and he has been building a proper organisation. I feel it is very professional and those who love the sport should be happy. Formula One is in good hands."