Jean Todt: Sergio Marchionne had mellowed about F1 exit before death

The late Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne told FIA president Jean Todt he felt "positive" about the future direction of Formula 1 after a final meal they had together in June

Marchionne had spoken out several times, questioning Liberty Media's revamp of F1, and thereatening to pull Ferrari out of the championship if the rules did not suit it.

But it has emerged that his opposition had fallen away shortly before his death.

Todt, who knew Marchionne from his own days at Ferrari, has revealed that the pair had a dinner with F1 chairman Chase Carey in June to discuss the future of the championship.

"On June 28 we had a dinner in my office in Geneva. It was him, Chase Carey and myself, to speak about the future of F1," Todt explained.

"And on the 29th, he sent me an SMS to say it was a great meeting, and 'we will move positively for the sport'."

Marchionne passed away in July following medical complications that developed after surgery.

Todt added: "Normally this dinner was due to be on the Sunday night after the Austrian GP, but he sent me a message to say unfortunately he could not make it, could we change and do it before? So we did it on 28th. And then the tragedy occurred."

While the loss of Marchionne will have a big impact on the future of F1 and Ferrari, Todt underlined that it was a personal tragedy too.

"It is a big loss," said Todt about the impact of Marchionne's death.

"Not only about all that he did for the industry, but the passion he had and with his style which he had. He was somebody with a great personality.

"I used to work with him before I was appointed as president of the FIA and we did not always agree. But in the end I quite liked him and I had a lot of respect for him.

"I will say honestly it is much more than about any future of F1 or anything, because the guy was 66. For me a human life is a human life, whatever you do, so it was very sad."

New Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri has already indicated that he will adopt a less aggressive approach than Marchionne regarding discussions over F1's future, and Todt is confident that a deal can be reached to ensure Ferrari remains in the championship.

"He [Camilleri] is a very bright person," said Todt. "He loves motor racing, and clearly it will be a completely different style, but he is a great, very talented businessman.

"He is a very straightforward person, so I am sure as FOM wants, as the FIA wants, as I feel the team wants and Ferrari wants, we will be able to do a good job. I am very optimistic."

Previous article F1 chiefs' pitch swayed Mercedes to help German GP stay on calendar
Next article Rival F1 teams question Mercedes boss Toto Wolff's third car idea