The reasons for Luca’s Ferrari exit
Real “Despite their lack of success Ferrari cling to their belief they deserve divine status in F1”
who did so with an unequalled combination of stylish nous and high drama, was never going to be the work of a moment.
Ferrari’s lack of performance eventually provided the trigger, with the announcement of Di Montezemolo’s departure coming days after the Italian GP – arguably Ferrari’s worse on-track performance on his watch. In the decade since Michael Schumacher’s 2004 title win, the Scuderia have claimed the drivers’ title just once (2007) despite their commercial advantages over the opposition.
Ross Brawn, once an integral part of the dream team, scored double title wins in 2009 with his eponymous entry; worse, since then, Ferrari have been creamed non-stop by drinkscan cars. True, they have had some near misses – but a single title lost (2010) is unfortunate; a second (2012) embarrassing; and a third (2013)… totally unacceptable.
Despite their lack of recent success – the last grand prix win came in Spain 18 months ago, and owed everything to Fernando Alonso’s on-track brilliance – Ferrari cling to their belief that they deserve almost divine status in F1. By extension, Di Montezemolo considered himself in Ferrari’s top job by right. Hence his comments in Monza, which implied that he, and only he, would decide when to exit, adding that he would be the one to say when. These remarks came in response to gossip suggesting that Sergio Marchionne, the top man in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), and arguably the best numbers man in the auto industry, would replace Di Montezemolo posthaste. Second only to John Elkann – grandson of Fiat chairman and architect Gianni Agnelli – Marchionne, who successfully took on Italian and American unions as he returned both manufacturers to protability, had designs on Wall Street as he devised ways to reduce Fiat/ Chrysler debt.
Yes, during Di Montezemolo’s watch, Ferrari consistently exceeded their prot forecasts, but that’s only half the story. His maverick leadership of Ferrari did not t the grand plan to oat on the New York Stock Exchange. Thus Marchionne took immediate umbrage at Di Montezemolo’s comments, branding them “not something I would say” before adding “Nobody is indispensable.” Not content with plunging the knife, he gave it a vicious twist: “The heart of Ferrari is winning in F1. I don’t want to see our drivers in seventh and 11th place [as they were on the grid at Monza]…”
It was air versus nance in the ght over Ferrari’s place in Fiat’s hierarchy, with the main prize being the strategic direction of FCA’s IPO. Can it be coincidental that Di Montezemolo was to clear his desk on 13 October, the day FCA’s shares were listed? The exit announcement, made in Montezemolo’s name, opened rather atly with: “Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming otation on Wall Street. This will open up a new and different phase, which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the group.” Not a word about Marchionne (nor Elkann), although Enzo’s surviving son Piero, a 10 per cent shareholder, is later praised. In the end, Di Montezemolo did announce when he would leave – and so ends an era that began back in 1973 when he joined Ferrari as bright-eyed PA to Enzo, at roughly the same time a certain Bernard Charles Ecclestone bought into F1. He, too, recently stated that he alone would decide when to go…