Ferrari chairman and key F1 figure Luca di Montezemolo steps down

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo ended days of speculation about his future by announcing he is to step down from his role with the car company and Formula 1 team

Ahead of a Ferrari board meeting on Thursday that is expected to announce record profits, di Montezemolo issued a statement saying that he will end his 23-year spell at Maranello.

ANALYSIS: Why change was inevitable and what comes next

He said his decision had been prompted by the flotation plans of the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles company, which is planned for the New York Stock Exchange next month.

"Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street," he said. "This will open up a new and different phase which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the Group.

"This is the end of an era and so I have decided to leave my position as chairman after almost 23 marvellous and unforgettable years in addition to those spent at Enzo Ferrari's side in the 1970s."

Di Montezemolo will stay on until the flotation on October 13.

Speculation about 67-year-old di Montezemolo's future intensified at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, but he insisted during an impromptu media call on Saturday that he had no intention of stepping down.

In fact, he said an offer to remain in his position for three more years, which had been made back in March, was still valid.

But renewed questions about di Montezemolo's future erupted in the wake of criticisms from Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who made clear that the performance of Ferrari's F1 team was 'unacceptable'.

Marchionne will become Ferrari's new chairman and suggested that 'misunderstandings' that came to light over the Monza weekend proved the catalyst for change.

He said: "Luca and I have discussed the future of Ferrari at length. 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."

Di Montezemolo thanked the Ferrari staff who had worked with him during his spell there, and made particular reference to Enzo Ferrari's son Piero. No mention was made of Marchionne.

"Ferrari is the most wonderful company in the world," said di Montezemolo, who initially ran Ferrari's F1 operation during its mid-1970s glory years with Niki Lauda, before returning in 1991 at Fiat's behest.

"It has been a great privilege and honour 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."

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