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 protabil­ity, had de­signs on Wall Street as he de­vised ways to re­duce Fiat/ Chrysler debt.

Yes, dur­ing Di Mon­teze­molo’s watch, Fer­rari con­sis­tently ex­ceeded their prot 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…

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