It is a sad day at Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler as former CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has passed away just days after surgery. Formula 1 boss, Chase Carey, said:
“His contributions to Formula 1 are immeasurable. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues”. “He led with great passion, energy and insight, and inspired all around him. His contributions to Formula One are immeasurable.
“He was also a true friend to all of us and he will be deeply missed.”
Sergio was instrumental in returning Fiat Chrysler to profitability and also making sweeping changes at Ferrari. He was an outspoken, no nonsense workaholic that galvanized Ferrari and even joined with Mercedes in pressing Formula 1 over the proposed regulation changes in 2021.
Sergio made difficult decisions when most leaders avoided them. He was a man who had a very practical and yet prudent approach to business and when he spoke, people listened. I had the honor of meeting Sergio and asking him a few questions and he answered as a man who was incredibly intelligent, practical and yet there was a side of him that also suggested he was an affable guy outside of business.
He was not flashy—always wearing his jumpers and never concerned over pretense—and yet he was at the helm of one of the world’s flashiest car companies. One might argue that former Ferrari CEO , Luca di Montezemolo, over-romanticized Ferrari’s elegance and panache, Sergio, in my opinion, seemed to downplay Ferrari’s image, brand and panache. He understood it’s footprint on history but viewed it as a corporate asset just like Jeep, Chrysler or a Fiat 500.
There was no foul in viewing all assets as resources to manipulate to the betterment of the mothership but as time went on and Ferrari’s performance in F1 waned, Sergio became more and more glowing in his word choice of Ferrari and yet very critical of its performance. He made massive management changes at Ferrari and put a lot of pressure on the company to produce a race-winning car when he took the helm as CEO. As time went on, Sergio began to back away from his demands as he realized just how difficult F1 is.
The FIA’s Jean Todt said:
“It is with great sadness that I learned that Sergio Marchionne tragically and unexpectedly passed away. Sergio achieved a colossal amount for the automotive industry and motor sport worldwide. He dedicated himself fully to turn around the FIAT-Chrysler group and put all his energy to bring Scuderia Ferrari back to the top. He was an endearing, upstanding and brave man, an unconventional and visionary leader. He was an eminent member of the FIA F1 Strategy Group and of the FIA High-Level Panel for Road Safety. His death is a considerable loss. On behalf of the entire FIA community, all my thoughts go out to his family, his friends and his Ferrari and Fiat-Chrysler group teams”.
As an instrumental part of applying pressure on F1’s 2021 regulation changes, it will be interesting to see what happens next and what Ferrari will do moving forward.
Our deepest sympathies Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler as well as the family and friends of Sergio Marchionne.