In addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sergio Marchionne, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 66, also served as CEO of Ferrari, and thus, had a large part to play in the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team. As the most storied constructor in the FIA-sanctioned Grand Prix series, Scuderia Ferrari had a huge presence in the sport, and a lot of sway as rules and regulations evolved over the years.
In fact, it was largely Marchionne who leveraged the team’s relevance in the sport to help negotiate circumstances favorable to Ferrari, according to Motorsport, while Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene was “very much in his shadow.” Last year, as teams and series organizers discussed new engine regulations and spending caps to take effect in 2021, Marchionne threatened to withdraw Scuderia Ferrari from Formula One if its conditions weren’t met.
It was just one of countless times that the late Fiat Chrysler CEO stood up, unrelenting, for Scuderia Ferrari, but with the 2021 regulations still not finalized, there’s still a chance that F1 owner Liberty Media could come to rest on rules that are less-than-completely-favorable to the Italian constructor.
Fortunately for Ferrari, Motorsport notes that Ferrari’s new Chairman, John Elkann, and new CEO, Louis Carey Camilleri, are both “determined” businessmen “with a big passion for the brand.” Any expectation on the part of Liberty Media or other stakeholders that the two would be more accommodating than the late Sergio Marchionne will likely turn out to be false.
Sergio Marchionne and John Elkann forged a formidable alliance from 2004 when the latter, helping to steer the giant holding company Exor (then known as “IFIL”), nabbed Marchionne for Fiat from another Agnelli-owned company, SGS. Elkann saw a strong leader in Marchionne, giving him unfettered control of the Italian carmaker and its properties, including Ferrari. While Camilleri today might not have the widespread recognition that Marchionne enjoyed, Elkann has already taken steps to insure that the former Chairman at Philip Morris has the same sort of control at Ferrari.
Assuming Louis Camilleri is the same sort of sharp-tongued, fearsome business leader that Sergio Marchionne was, Scuderia Ferrari could find itself able to exercise the same sway in Formula One that it’s always enjoyed, even with Marchionne’s passing.