Formula 1

Luca di Montezemolo to step down as Ferrari chairman

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Luca di Montezemolo has announced he is stepping down as chairman of Ferrari after 23 years at the helm.

The news comes after a dispute between himself and the CEO of Ferrari's parent company Fiat grew increasingly public over the course of last weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

In a statement Di Montezemolo said he was moving aside from his role within both the Formula 1 and car side of the company as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles prepare to go public on the New York Stock Exchange in October.

Mixed Ferrari fortunes

Di Montezemolo's reign comes to an end as perhaps the most recognised name in the whole of the motor industry is set to announce record profits at a board meeting on Thursday.

Yet it seems the failure of Ferrari's Formula 1 team that has been the main catalyst for Di Montezemolo's departure.

The most famous team on the grid have not won a championship since 2008 with Kimi Raikkonen the last driver to be crowned champion inside a Prancing Horse a year prior.

This year it was hoped to change to a more engine-dependent set of regulations would benefit Ferrari, however, the team has again failed to meet expectations with only two podiums for Fernando Alonso so far.

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Luca di Montezemolo under pressure

Time for change

After realising the F14-T had come up short compared to their rivals, heads at Maranello began to roll as former team boss Stefano Domenicali was ousted in April and replaced with the man who oversaw the rise of Ferrari in North America, Marco Mattiacci.

In the factory too, some key changes were made including the firing of Luca Marmorini, the man in charge of developing the current V6 power unit, however, the end of Di Montezemolo as chairman is the clearest statement yet that Ferrari are looking to the future.

Marvellous and unforgettable

In his statement on Wednesday morning, Di Montezemolo expressed his gratitude towards the company he has been affiliated with for 40 years and believed Ferrari would be a key part of Fiat's future.

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

"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 in addition to those spent at Enzo Ferrari's side in the 1970s."

Disharmony at the top

His successor, Sergio Marchionne, commented about how he and Di Montezemolo had spoken at length about the future direction of Ferrari and the differences in opinion between the two men had been the key reason for this decision.

However, as Di Montezemolo continued his thank you's to those he had worked with during his time with Ferrari, his successor was nowhere to be found in his list.

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

His final mention was to Piero, the son of founder and the man Di Montezemolo worked with during his early days, Enzo Ferrari.

"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."

Moving forward

While much of the reaction will be that of reflection on Di Montezemolo's reign, a time when Ferrari went from midfield runners to a dominant force and back to the midfield again, what this signifies is a changing of the times at Maranello.

The quaint goings on in the heart of the Italian countryside seem perfect when everything goes well, but in recent years Ferrari has become outdated as a F1 team, surpassed by the aggressive, unrelenting approach by Red Bull and now Mercedes.

The days of a little bit here and a little bit there are long gone as the pace of development in modern F1 mean the same car that won a race two weeks ago could fail to make the top 10 at the next Grand Prix.

And its the kind of development as well, Ferrari have been hampered for a while by poor correlation between the data from the wind tunnel and that on the track and so when the team have pushed the limits of what is possible, which isn't too often, those issues have only been exacerbated.

For the good of the team

Luca di Montezemolo has done great things for Ferrari during his time in charge, but the realisation that his time was up and change was needed will serve Ferrari well as they look to recapture their once dominant ways.

In a time when the dinosaurs don't want to relinquish their grip in the sport, Di Montezemolo sets the precedent that all things must come to an end. 

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