Ferrari figurehead departs to shake up planning for F1’s future

Sergio Marchionne, chairman and chief executive of Ferrari, has stepped aside from his position in a development that removes a combative key player in Liberty Media’s ongoing efforts to reform the Formula One motor-racing championship.

Ferrari, and parent company Fiat Chrysler, announced on Saturday that that during the course of the week unexpected complications arose while Marchionne (pictured) was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly meaning that the 66-year-old will be unable to return to work.

The Ferrari board has named John Elkann, part of the Agnelli family who founded Fiat, as chairman and will propose to shareholders that board member Louis Camilleri be named as chief executive.

Fiat Chrysler chief executive Marchionne replaced Luca di Montezemolo, one of the most influential figures within Formula One, at the helm of Ferrari in 2014 and had been a vocal opponent of certain plans from the championship’s owner, Liberty Media, for the future of the sport, even going so far as threatening to remove its oldest and most glamorous team.

In November, Marchionne warned that the iconic Italian marque could leave F1 if it did not like the new direction that the sport takes, stating that the company does not “want to play Nascar globally”. In October, Formula One stakeholders put forward a “roadmap” for simpler, cheaper and noisier engines from the 2021 season, as part of efforts to attract new manufacturers to the championship.

F1 is committed to running the current power units until 2020, meaning a new configuration can be introduced from 2021. F1 is currently in the midst of discussions regarding major reform for the sport and Liberty has long stated its goal to level the playing field for manufacturers through the likes of cost caps and fairer distribution of revenue, a subject that has caused concern for certain teams, along with engine changes.

The Concorde Agreement, the document which binds F1’s teams and stakeholders together, is scheduled to expire at the end of the 2020 season. Ferrari, as the sport’s oldest and most successful team, receive special payments to reflect their standing and are reluctant to give up these privileges.

Reflecting on Saturday’s announcement, Elkann said: “Sergio has always made a difference, wherever his work took him and in the lives of so very many people. Today, that difference can be seen in the culture that he introduced in all the companies he has led, a culture that has become an integral part of each and every one of them.

“The succession plans we have just announced, even if not without pain from a personal point of view, mean we can guarantee the maximum possible continuity, preserving our companies’ unique cultures.”