Luca di Montezemolo to quit as Ferrari chairman (2014) | CAR Magazine

Luca di Montezemolo to quit as Ferrari chairman (2014)

Published: 10 September 2014 Updated: 26 January 2015

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo is to step aside as Ferrari chairman on 13 October 2014, the Fiat Group announced today. Di Montezemolo – or LDM, for short – will pocket €27 million (£21m) in severance pay in return for agreeing to not compete against Fiat before March 2017.

His successor? Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne. Fiat owns 90% of Ferrari stock.

The two have clashed publicly in recent months over Ferrari strategy – and who was really in charge. The spats have been played out in public and insiders said it was only a matter of time before Marchionne flexed his muscle. He called Ferrari’s lack of F1 success ‘unacceptable’ at the weekend.

Read CAR magazine’s Luca di Montezemolo interview from 2011 here.

It is believed that di Montezemolo disagreed with Fiat’s ambitions to bolster Ferrari road car production from its current 7000-a-year cap. But the F1 team’s lack of success had become a millstone around LDM’s neck.

Luca di Montezemolo’s tenure at Ferrari

The 67-year-old has led a charmed life at Ferrari – in a career stretching back to the days of Enzo Ferrari. See his resignation statement in full here.

He has led the company for 23 years since Enzo’s death and is responsible for turning a low-volume supercar specialist into the modern sports car giant it is today.

Some may rue di Montezemolo’s move into fringe activities – Ferrari World theme parks and merchandise spring to mind – but such licensing activities have been about the bottom line and boosting profits. And that’s been pumped back into the product range.

This is how we would prefer to remember LDM’s time in charge: for leaving the company with arguably the strongest road car line-up it’s enjoyed in years: the 458 Italia is perhaps his crowning achievement, knocking back challenges from the likes of McLaren to move the junior Ferrari benchmark even higher.

He has also spearheaded a product expansion, which has introduced a broader product portfolio: cars such as the California coupe-convertible and four-wheel drive FF shooting brake have been relatively pioneering for a supercar manufacturer operating at this level.

No wonder sales trebled and revenues soared tenfold under di Montezemolo’s leadership.

Ferrari F1: a low point in LDM’s tenure

However, while the road car division has gone from strength to strength, the scuderia‘s 1 chances have waned in recent years.

Despite having two of the best drivers on the grid, some of the finest facilities of any F1 team and the weight of history behind it, Ferrari’s F1 efforts have stalled in 2014, piling pressure on to di Montezemolo.

It’s currently enjoying its least competitive season for a generation. Its last F1 championship? Back in 2007. Tellingly, LDM shook the team up in the wake of the Spygate scandal, under which employee Nigel Stepney was alleged to have leaked information to rival teams.

Jean Todt stepped back and Stefano Domenicali took over as team principal. The wilderness years began.

In a statement issued this morning Marchionne said: ‘Luca and I have discussed the future of Ferrari at length. And our mutual desire to see Ferrari achieve its full potential on the track has led to misunderstandings which became visible over the last weekend. I want to thank Luca for all he has done for Fiat, for Ferrari and for me personally.’

What’s next for Ferrari?

Marchionne is believed to have big plans for Ferrari. The Fiat Group sold around 4.4 million cars in 2013 – but Ferrari contributed 12% of its operating profits.

We would wager that the Fiat Chrysler powerhouse has a vision for how its premium brands – Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo – work alongside Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

Such news may worry some tifosi. It certainly did LDM. ‘Ferrari is now American,’ which represents ‘the end of an era,’ di Montezemolo told friends, according to Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

Which explains his departure, announced today.

Luca di Montezemolo’s resignation statement in full

Luca di Montezemolo's statement issued on 10 September 2014

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words