[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] SERGIO MARCHIONNE: 1952-2018

Ferrari, Formula 1 and the global automotive industry is in deep mourning after the passing of revered leader Sergio Marchionne, aged just 66.

The Italian-Canadian died last week following complications from shoulder surgery - just days after he was replaced as chairman and CEO of Ferrari, when health concerns prevented him from returning to the role.

“Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” new Ferrari chairman John Elkann said in a statement. “My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done.”

Marchionne was a powerhouse of the automotive industry - and former CEO of Fiat, which he returned to profit after a $7 billion US dollar loss in 2003 - before a takeover and merger with Chrysler.

Marchionne replaced longtime Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo in late 2014 - with the Scuderia preparing for the arrival of Sebastian Vettel - following its worst campaign in 22 years. 

SOUNDBITE (English) LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO,
FERRARI CHAIRMAN, 1991-2014:
“If you ask me, Vettel could be a good driver for the future of Ferrari - the answer is yes. He is young. He is a four-time [F1] champion of the world. Very good guy. Good Ferrari client.”

Marchionne rebuilt the iconic Italian squad, installing former Philip Morris executive Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal - its third in more than a year, following Stefano Domenicali’s resignation and interim replacement from the North American market, Marco Mattiacci.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO MARCHIONNE,
FERRARI CHAIRMAN, 2014-2018:
“I think 2015 is going to be a reconstitution year. I think [on] Maurizio, it’s going to be his first full year with the team. I think we have made some unequivocal choices about the composition of the team in the last few days.”

2015 and 2016 were both dominated by Mercedes, just as 2014 had been - with the Silver Arrows winning 51 of 59 races across the three seasons.

But when Ferrari technical director James Allison left in 2016, Marchionne replaced him from within - choosing power unit chief Mattia Binotto - rather than go for another high-profile signing.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO MARCHIONNE,
FERRARI CHAIRMAN, 2014-2018:
“I think Mattia has worked diligently in putting a team together that can finally break this unfortunate sequencing of non-wins over the last few years. I’m very, very hopeful about 2017.”

Marchionne’s faith paid off - with Ferrari mounting a stronger challenge to Mercedes last year. Vettel securing five victories - but losing out on a title bid with mistakes and technical issues.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO MARCHIONNE,
FERRARI CHAIRMAN, 2014-2018:
“I think there was a very strong likelihood that if we had continued on the path that we had started in Australia then we would have probably ended up winning the championship.”
 

2018 has been another step forward, but Marchionne continued to spread his influence - not only bringing the Alfa Romeo brand back to Grand Prix racing after an absence of 32 years… 

… but also in negotiating with F1 owner Liberty Media on the future of the sport, and Ferrari’s place within that.

And, while Marchionne is gone - with John Elkann Ferrari’s new chairman, and Louis C Camilleri installed as CEO - his legacy will remain as a pragmatic leader, who revived some of Italy’s greatest automotive marques. He will be missed.