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Ferrari in new era without Montezemolo

2014-09-12 08:24

FUTURE FOR FERRARI'S EX-BOSS? Outgoing Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo admitted on September 10 that it was possible he would run the Italian airline Alitalia. Image: AP / Antonio Calanni


  • Montezemolo to quit in October
  • Fiat head takes over as chairman
  • Ecclestone says exit like death of Enzo

LONDON, England - Luca di Montezemolo's resignation from his position of Ferrari chairman has severed an historic link with the company's late founder Enzo and marks the end of an era for Formula 1's most successful and glamorous team.

Without him in Maranello, or being followed by a media scrum on his rare visits to the F1 paddock, Ferrari will seem a little less flamboyant, the sport a little less colourful, but both will survive.

Montezemolo said he was finally leaving on October 13, the day the newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is due to be listed in New York.


The Prancing Horse's era of dominance on the track has been over for a while. The Italian team has not won a championship since 2008, a race since May 2013. Its most recent pole start was in 2012.

Max Mosley, former International Automobile Federation head who stepped down in 2009 and was an old sparring partner of Montezsemolo, said: "I suppose we're approaching the end of an era in F1. Dear old Luca, it started back when we were all so young...

"But in truth Ferrari has never been quite the same since Jean (Todt) left. If it wants to win races again it needs to find another outstanding manager. I wonder if (Fiat chief executive and new Ferrari chairman Sergio) Marchionne should try to persuade Jean to return to Ferrari - and, if he did, would Jean accept?

"I doubt it, but the team needs somebody of Jean's singular drive and focus now more than ever."


The suave Montezemolo, who combined a passion for racing with an elegant manner and extensive contacts among the world's social and political elite, was in many ways the embodiment of the Italian sportscar maker.

The sport's 83-year-old commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters: "I first met Luca in 1973. So, yeah, it's a pity. We're going to miss him. His leaving is for me the same as Mr Enzo dying - he had become Ferrari. You see him, you see Ferrari. You don't see anything else. You don't see Luca."

Montezemolo, one of the big personalities who strode the stage as the sport was transformed into a billion-dollar global business from the 1970's onwards, taking over at Ferrari after Enzo's death in 1988, he was also sounding increasingly at odds with the newer generation.

He had favoured a return to the old and expensive days of in-season testing. With Ecclestone, had been a vocal critic of the new and much quieter V6 turbo hybrid 'power units' favoured by volume manufacturers such as Honda and Renault.


Executives from the automotive industry call the shots now, with Montezemolo's job taken by Marchionne and former Ferrari North America president Marco Mattiacci as team principal.
And while Montezemolo's old rival Ron Dennis remains in overall charge at McLaren, and Frank Williams is enjoying a revival with his team, the landscape has changed with Mercedes and Red Bull the pacesetters.

Ferrari's millions of fans will care mostly that their drivers are given the tools with which to be triumphant again. Ecclestone said: "I think the big problem is that they haven't been winning lately."

How soon Ferrari does win remains an open question, with the team having gone through plenty of upheaval through the previous few months and the cost-cutting Marchionne bringing a very different managerial style as well as already having huge responsibilities elsewhere.

Mattiacci replaced the likeable Stefano Domenicali, a lifetime Ferrari employee who was also close to Montezemolo, in April 2014 and engine head Luca Marmorini left soon afterwards.

There is already speculation that Mattiacci, who has spoken of the need for a change of culture, is destined for further promotion within the Fiat group and that would leave Ferrari searching for somebody else to run the team.


Todt, Mosley's successor at the sport's governing body, can most certainly be counted out despite Mosley's somewhat mischievous suggestion but former technical director and tactician Ross Brawn could be an option. Under Todt and Brawn, Ferrari won a string of titles from 1999 to 2004 with seven-times champion Michael Schumacher.

Their arrival may well go down as Montezemolo's greatest achievement on the sporting side, whatever the subsequent disagreements between Todt and the Ferrari boss.

Stepping directly into Enzo's office when he became chairman in 1991, after a previous stint working as team manager in the 1970's, Montezemolo began the slow process of waking a slumbering giant struggling to live up to a nation's expectations.

The arrival of Todt led to the hiring of Brawn from Benetton, along with designer Rory Byrne and eventually Schumacher - then a double F1 champion. Brawn went on to win championships with his own outfit, subsequently sold to Mercedes, in 2009 after the Ferrari 'dream team' had broken up.


The 59-year-old, who then led the Mercedes works outfit that is currently dominant, has already been mentioned as a possible recruit - should he be interested in taking on one of the most high-pressure jobs in sport - which is far from certain.

Mattiacci  told CNN ahead of the 2014 Italian F1 GP at Monza: "Ross Brawn is an iconic figure at Maranello. Everybody would like to have Ross or would like to see Ross back at Ferrari. We are building a very strong team with a medium, long-term, plan.

"My role is to shorten as much as I can this plan to make it effective as soon as possible. We are building the foundation for a very successful story."


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