Ferrari are the stars of grand prix racing and should be paid more than other teams, Jean Todt said.

"Maybe wrongly, I think Ferrari is unique," the team principal told reporters. "I think Ferrari is linked to Formula One as Formula One is linked to Ferrari and I think it's the best combination which has probably created what is Formula One today."

Ferrari are the only team to have competed in the championship since the first season in 1950 and have won more titles than anyone.

"Without underestimating what the other teams did, I feel that Ferrari did achieve more than the others," said Todt.

"It's like when you produce a movie. You need stars so that you know you are going to sell the movie all over the world.

"And then you have stars with different contracts. And Ferrari in its business is a star and wants to be paid like a star and finds the possibility of being paid like that. I say that without arrogance," added the Frenchman.

Fiat-owned Ferrari are the only team to have committed themselves to Formula One beyond the end of the current Concorde agreement, which expires at the end of 2007, after breaking with other carmakers.

Their agreement with commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the governing FIA includes a substantial premium in recognition of the team's contribution to the history of the sport, with 14 drivers' and 14 constructors' titles.

The deal was criticised by McLaren boss Ron Dennis last week and threatens to deepen the rift between Ferrari and the other teams over the future of the sport, which could result in the manufacturers forming their own championship in 2008.

Seven of Ferrari's rivals have signed a memorandum of understanding with the manufacturers while Jordan and Red Bull have yet to decide.

"I can understand the frustration of the others, but I feel if the others were in our situation, they would do the same thing," said Todt.

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