Luca Di Montezemolo has been sacked from his position as Ferrari Chairman after 23 years at the helm of the “prancing horse”.
Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne, will replace Di Montezemolo who at 67 ends a glittering stewardship of the Ferrari group. Under Di Montezemolo the Ferrari road car business has seen a resurgence in demand going from heavily indebted to becoming a roaring success, the company is scheduled to float on the New York stock market.
Di Montezemolo’s departure is for the failures in Formula One, after six barren years without a drivers or constructors championship and despite currently having two world champions driving for them. It seems the last straw for Sergio Marchionne was at the Italian Grand Prix where Fernando Alonso failed to finish and Kimi Raikkonen stumbled into 9th position.
More likely Di Montezemolo may have been kicked out of Modena because he had disagreed with Sergio Marchionne over the future direction of the supercar brand. Fiat own Ferrari and Marchionne wants to increase sales, Di Montezemolo recently announced that sales of its range of cars would be limited to around 7,000 a year in order to preserve exclusivity of the brand. This is probably the real reason why Di Montezemolo was removed from his post, the company’s F1 fortunes appear to be a corporate smokescreen.
Ironically it was Di Montezemolo who was credited with turning around the fortunes of the F1 team when he was appointed company President in 1991. Montezemolo made it his goal to win again and by 1999 Ferrari had won their first constructors championship since 1983 and a drivers championship for the first time since 1979 followed in 2000. The Schumacher era dominated with a string of victories and yet more championships for 5 consecutive years.
The last meaningful success was with Kimi Raikkonen who won the drivers championship in 2008, since then Ferrari have come close on a number of occasions only to fall short at the last moment. The last three years have been a virtual wilderness for a team with such a rich winning history. Not even Fernando Alonso, the best driver in F1 at the moment, has the capability to win with a poorly performing car.
Di Montezemolo was not just a Chairman of Ferrari he was part of the company’s very fabric and formed a close working relationship with its legendary founder, the late Enzo Ferrari, when the two worked together in the 1970’s. In many ways Di Montezemolo was the spiritual successor to Enzo Ferrari in all but name. Di Montezemolo represented more than just a finely tuned commercial acumen which helped triple sales and make Ferrari a world class superbrand, he understood what Ferrari was about and what it had to be.
Di Montezemolo’s position looked untenable after the humiliation of the Italian Grand Prix when Sergio Marchionne launched a thinly veiled and public broadside at Montezemolo. The knives finally came to rest today buried in a press statement with the wound seeping an end of an era.
In his personal statement, Di Montezemolo said: “It is the most wonderful company in the world and it has been an honour to have been its leader.
“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.”