Tuesday 22 January 2019

Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo steps down

Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso (3rd L) of Spain looks at his car which stopped during the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 7, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (ITALY - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)
Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso (3rd L) of Spain looks at his car which stopped during the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 7, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (ITALY - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)

Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo will step down next month and Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne is set to take on the role.

Di Montezemolo, who has seen Ferrari drivers win the Formula One title six times during his 23-year spell at the helm of the Italian manufacturer, will leave his post on October 13.

Fiat, which is Ferrari's parent company, announced his departure in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement said: "Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has announced his intention to resign as chairman of Ferrari with effect from October 13th following completion of Ferrari's celebration of 60 years in America. Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne, will take over as chairman of Ferrari"

While Di Montezemolo has revitalised Ferrari as a car company, with the prestige manufacturer poised to announce record results soon, on the race track the Maranello marque has floundered recently.

The 67-year-old, who has held key positions at both Ferrari and Fiat, was praised for the impact he has made.

"On behalf of my family and myself, I would like to thank Luca for all he has done for both Fiat and Ferrari", said Fiat chairman John Elkann.

"Luca leaves us with my most sincere and heartfelt wishes for his future professional endeavours and the hope, I am certain shared by us both, that Ferrari will return to victory very soon."

Marchionne said: "Luca and I have discussed the future of Ferrari at length. And our mutual desire to see Ferrari achieve its true potential on the track has led to misunderstandings which became clearly visible over the last weekend.

"I want to thank Luca for all he has done for Fiat, for Ferrari and for me personally."

Di Montezemolo revealed in his own statement that with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' upcoming flotation on the New York Stock Exchange, he feels it is an appropriate time for him to move on.

"Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street. This will open up a new and different phase which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the group," he said.

"This is the end of an era and so I have decided to leave my position as chairman after almost 23 marvellous and unforgettable years."

He thanked all those who worked behind the scenes at Ferrari, the fans and commercial partners before wishing the firm all the best for the future.

"Ferrari is the most wonderful company in the world. It has been a great privilege and honour to have been its leader," he added.

"I devoted all of my enthusiasm and commitment to it over the years. Together with my family, it was, and continues to be, the most important thing in my life.

"I wish the shareholders, particularly Piero Ferrari who has always been by my side, and everyone in the company the many more years of success that Ferrari deserves."

Rumours had been circulating for a while that Di Montezemolo was about to call time on his career with Ferrari, but he denied that was the case after Saturday's Italian Grand Prix.

Speaking on the steps of the Ferrari motorhome, he insisted that he would see out the three-year contract he signed in March.

But in the days since the miserable home race for Ferrari, which saw Fernando Alonso retire and Kimi Raikkonen finish ninth, there appears to have been a significant change of heart.

Marchionne, who was not present at Monza but was at an event 25 miles away, hinted at the weekend that Di Montezemolo should not have said he was guaranteed to stay.

The 62-year-old highlighted that winning Formula One titles was the "heart" of Ferrari and the six barren years since their last triumph was too long.

"The important thing for Ferrari is not just the financial results, but also it is winning, and we have been struggling for six years," Marchionne said.

"On volume and economic results, Luca has done an outstanding job. We are good friends, but when I read his statements these are things I would not have said myself."

He added: "When the company has a change of plan, or if there is no longer a convergence of ideas, things change."

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