UPDATE: Video interview with Luca di Montezemolo added.
Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo has confirmed his resignation from the top post at the Italian sports car manufacturer and race team, a role he has enjoyed for the past 23 years. The 67-year-old explained that Ferrari is transitioning into a new era, due to the upcoming floating of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on the New York Stock Exchange, and that in this new era control of Ferrari should be in the hands of FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.
“Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street,” di Montezemolo said in a statement. “This will open up a new and different phase which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the group.”
Today’s confirmation ends recent talk of di Montezemolo’s resignation, which is in part due to conflict with Marchionne’s own goals for Ferrari. di Montezemolo has attempted to maintain Ferrari as an autonomous unit, despite Fiat owning 90 percent of the company, and there’s been talk Marchionne wants to reverse the decision to limit Ferrari’s annual sales to 7,000 units and further integrate the company with FCA.
Furthermore, Marchionne has been displeased with Ferrari’s performance in Formula One of late, stating that the performance has been “unacceptable” and that “everyone can be replaced,” including those at the top. The team hasn't won a Drivers' Championship since 2007, despite having one of the biggest budgets in the sport.
"Luca and I have discussed the future of Ferrari at length," Marchionne said today. "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."
In his earlier days, di Montezemolo would spend his time racing Fiats and Lancias and then started working for Fiat in 1973. That year he was moved to Ferrari where he became the assistant of founder Enzo Ferrari. He has been elemental in the operation of Ferrari's F1 program over the years, including the hyper-successful Schumacher era, and perhaps more importantly he has played a crucial role in the turnaround of Ferrari's road car operations during the 1990s and the building of the brand—regarded as one of the world’s strongest and most valuable today.
Even away from the automotive world, di Montezemolo has had success in a range of activities including running the Cinzano drinks company, helping launch Italy’s first America’s Cup yacht, and managing the committee in charge of the 1990 football World Cup in Italy. He's also had a hand in controlling some of the world’s biggest luxury firms.
More recently, di Montezemolo has helped launched Europe’s first privately-funded high-speed train service, Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori. He’s also been rumored to be eyeing a role in Italian politics as well as running the country’s struggling airline Alitalia, 49 percent of which was just sold to Abu Dhabi’s Etihad. Former Fiat executive Silvano Cassano has just been named CEO of Alitalia, so perhaps we’ll see di Montezemolo there as well.
Hit the next page to view di Montezemolo’s resignation statement in full.
Luca di Montezemolo
This is the end of an era and so I have decided to leave my position as chairman after almost 23 marvelous and unforgettable years in addition to those spent at Enzo Ferrari’s side in the 1970s.
My thanks, first and foremost, to the exceptional Ferrari women and men from the factory, the offices, the race tracks and the markets across the world. They were the real architects of the company’s spectacular growth, its many unforgettable victories and its transformation into one of the world’s strongest brands.
A warm farewell and my thanks also to all of our technical and commercial partners, our dealers across the globe and, most particularly, the clients and collectors whose passion I so wholeheartedly share.
But my thoughts go also to our fans who have always supported us with great enthusiasm especially through the Scuderia’s most difficult moments.
Ferrari is the most wonderful company in the world. It has been a great privilege and honor 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.
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.”