Originally posted by wj_gibson
Not really. CART's initial trump card was that it had the Ferraris of the IndyCar world aligned to it - Penske, Andretti, Ganassi, etc.
IRL's trump card was the Indy 500.
The Ferrari eventually went back to the Indy 500 fold.
F1 has the Monaco GP. It will still be the Monaco GP irrespective of whether Ferrari is there or not. A1GP has...er...Taupo?
Certainly, but Ferrari is arguably the only feature of modern Formula One that rests in the consciousness of the public. Perhaps Monaco has an elevated status, but it's hardly synonymous with F1 like Ferrari is, or the Indy 500 with Indycar (!) racing. Once Champcar lost the 500, it was always going to be a no-name series in non-specialist eyes, and hence the sponsors' plans; its only short- or medium-term hope would have been the swift crushing of the IRL and a reuniting of the Indy 500 with the stronger series. Due to various mismanagements, this situation never came to pass.
As far as Ferrari are concerned, they are far more powerful and important outside of F1 than Penske, Andretti etc. were outside Champcar, just look at the almost extortionate lengths they push the FIA to, to keep them committed to the series. From the point of view of the sponsors and the public, Ferrari may well be F1's Indy, and as much as all non-Tifosi hate that, it's better than the kind of split that wrecked OW racing in America just a little.