Ferrari reels as Illness forces Sergio Marchionne out: A tough act to follow
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: Editor   |  24 Jul 2018   |  5:56 pm GMT  |  52 comments

Over the weekend of the German Grand Prix, it was announced by Fiat that, following shoulder surgery, Fiat and Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne’s health had deteriorated and would not be able to return to work.

The situation is grave; the surgery was reportedly a routine operation and Marchionne’s suddenly worsened condition was unexpected.

A statement said: “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours.

“As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work.”

In this unexpected scenario, Fiat have named Marchionne’s successors, with Mike Manley being named as CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The board has named Agnelli family member John Elkann as Chairman and will propose to shareholders that former Philip Morris executive Louis Camilleri be named as CEO.

The board has also given Camilleri the necessary powers to ensure continuity of the company’s operation.

The situation has left Ferrari reeling. Marchionne was the strong man who came in, floated Ferrari on the stock market and revived the flagging fortunes of the F1 team with a brutal realignment of the technical and management team.

Today the Ferrari is arguably the fastest car in the F1 field and has a strong chance of winning the world championship with Sebastian Vettel.

The F1 team is not directly affected thus far; team principal Maurizio Arrivabene leads the team and former engine man Mattia Binotto has been a revelation as technical director.

Discussions for F1 2021 and beyond

Where it will be immediately interesting is in the wrangles over the future rules and commercial picture of F1 after 2020.

Transforming the financial fortunes of both Fiat and Chrysler, Marchionne has been CEO of Fiat and Ferrari since 2004 and he has a wealth of experience in the tough negotiations that Formula One can demand.

But what would a change in CEO do for the current discussions regarding the regulations for after 2020? Can Camilleri give Ferrari exactly what they want from the debate on regulations?

Along with the frequently-discussed cost cap, the power units are a huge talking point in the discussions to finalise the regulations for 2021.

The main power unit change currently being proposed is the removal of the MGU-H (motor generator unit – heat, which is the exhaust energy recovery system), whilst all other aspects would remain the same, except for an increase in fuel limits.

The majority of the field – including Ferrari – have resisted Liberty Media’s desire to change the power unit specifications, possibly down to the MGU-H being one of the more complex areas of the power unit, and therefore one of the bigger areas for gains.

Earlier this year, Marchionne – never one to shy away from making public statements – issued a threat to quit the sport if the rule changes, especially around the power unit aren’t in Ferrari’s interests. He wanted there to be clear technical differentiation between brands, not a one size fits all dumbed down approach, as he saw it.

Whilst that particular threat had calmed in recent weeks, Ferrari will be one of the central figures to the discussions about the direction of Formula One.

For the first time in the turbo-hybrid era, it is widely accepted that Ferrari have the best power unit on the grid, especially after the introduction of their ‘spec 2’ unit at the Canadian Grand Prix, which resulted in a big jump in performance.

Marchionne’s are big shoes to fill at a critical time.

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

Do you think Ferrari’s negotiations will be weakened by the replacement of Marchionne? Leave your comments in the section below.

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Shocking news. How awful for his family and Ferrari. Those who knew of Marchionne primarily through F1 might not realise just what a colossus he was in the wider automotive industry. His reshaping of Fiat and theaudacious acquisition of Chrysler (without paying a penny) will be spoken of for decades to come. A proper old school maverick, he was out of step with the times in some ways but that enabled him to do things the herd would not have dared.

RIP Sergio. Ferrari will go all out to win in your honour, I’m sure.


There will be pages if not books written about him so I will mearly say that I honestly believe F1 has lost a friend. R.I.P.


‘the surgery was reportedly a routine operation’

A mistake by the docs?


No, nobody should blame any of the involved doctors for a cerebral embolism. It happens when a blood clot or a chunk of fatty plaque breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream and becomes lodged in a blood vessel and blocks blood flow. When an embolism blocks the flow of blood to the brain, it is called a cerebral embolism and is a type of stroke which is a risk that increases with age.


I was surprised James didn’t write anything about Sergio’s retirement when it happened, Now he passed away. RIP great leader!!


“Editor” writes this blog now. James is busy being President of Operations for Mototsport-Network Europe, Africa and Middle-East after selling this blog to Autosport.


Not really, I write posts here including the strategy report and we have always – throughout 10 years of JA on F1 blog – had others writing posts here, people I mentor


It’s being reported by various outlets that he died this morning.



According to the CNN, Sergio Marchionne passed away.

May he rest in peace ..


Marchionne suffered a cerebral embolism during his shoulder surgery to remove a painful cancer node. Cerebral embolisms are devastating and never reversible. He went into coma and never woke up as he passed away this morning.

May he rest in peace.

Question is now if team boss Maurizio Arrivabene will be allowed to decide on their F1 drivers. Marchionne was staunch promoter of Leclerc while Arrivabene prefers that the talented Monagasc gets one more year to learn the trade at Sauber before he is to replace Räikkönen.

Ferrari is understandably in state of shock right now, so might take a while before we get an answer.


Well from what I have just read this has taken a very bad turn for the worse…apparently he has passed away.

Condolences to his family and those close to him.


Just saw the news that Sergio Marchionne has passed away. I was hardly a fan, neither because of his style nor the fact he worked for Ferrari whom I have always seen as the enemy since the Schumacher years, but you can’t argue with his record at Fiat or Ferrari. Ferrari’s F1 performance turned around under him, and like him or not he should get credit for that. RIP.


I’m not sure I share the view that Marchionne did wonderful things for the F1 team. Arguably he had them wound up so tight that it led to the absolute catastrophe at the end of last season. Ruthlessness has always been the Ferrari way, it saw them force Schumacher into an early retirement, and unceremoniously boot out Di Montezemelo despite being the most successful leader they have ever had.

I do have to respect Marchionne for his overall achievement of bringing Ferrari to where they are this year though. If Ferrari didn’t have such a good car, there would be no tension or excitement in this championship. Having said that, had he managed to retain Alonso, I feel he would be doing a heck of a lot better than Seb in this years car. Whilst I think Seb may take the title this year, if Alonso was in the car I feel there would be a lot more confidence around the team. Not to mention that Alonso vs Hamilton 2 would be a more appealing battle.

That isn’t to disparage Vettel, but he doesn’t seem to have the outright precision and killer instinct of Alonso. That Marchionne couldn’t or didn’t convince Alonso to stay and lost him to McLaren of all places, was a bit of a misstep.


Forza Sergio! The prayers of the entire F1 family are with you.

The portly smiling assassin of the motor industry, with his little round glasses and array of woollen jumpers will be sorely missed … especially in these crazy times of integral negotiations for F1’s future.

His not-so-distant future in the company was already decided so I am not surprised by the rapid replacement. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a guiding hand in the process of elimination for his successor.

The future of F1 and Ferrari’s place in it now gets muddier than anyone could have predicted a week ago.

Even Chase Carey looked quite shocked and a little dubious about what to say about the future of Ferrari in F1.

Good luck to the Marchionne family and Sergio’s friends.

Sad and unsettling times!


Poor guy. Can’t even enjoy his retirement.


Well that’s that settled. Prayers don’t work.


Replacing a hard bastard with a harder bastard is sometimes troublesome. I think Fiat may be in for some turmoil, as Marchionne is the harder bastard, & therefore will be a huge pair of shoes to fill.

If Liberty Media react swiftly, yet compassionately, they may get an easier deal from Ferrari, but I hope not. The push by M.S. to retain engine technology on behalf of Ferrari should be applauded.

I personally think F1 engine architecture should be mandated to capacity only, to allow brilliant engineering brains to flourish, i.e. the BRM H-16 was bad, the Honda oval piston V6 was tremendous.

On a more serious note, I wish Sergio & the Marchionne family well, & hope that he may have a speedy recovery.


I had hoped for some more insight – or even better, some incite 😈 – from this article… instead, I don’t see anything more here than the BBC posted four days ago?

I specifically was wondering (a) what the paddock chatter might have been about the nature of the surgery that seems to have gone awry, and (b) if there were some Machiavellian goings on behind the scenes, by, for example, the Agnelli/Elkann clan to regain control of the Fiat empire.

Perhaps James, you could take a lead out of one of your well known colleague’s book and post some of your more scurrilous gossip in the comments section..


The fact that he’s stepping down tells me that he’s suffering from something more serious than post surgery complications. Reports are that he has lung cancer and a lot of those reports already read like obituaries.

I wonder whether this now means that Ferrari will no longer threaten to leave f1 if Liberty ditch the Dynamo.

That aside I think it’s pretty tragic if he’s dying from cancer. The guy worked 20 hour days non stop for years and it looks as though he won’t even get to enjoy a retirement. It should remind us all to not overdo it with work and to always make time to stop and smell the roses, because it can all be over sooner than we think.


From what I have heard and read it is very serious. He is described as being gravely ill and is in intensive care in a clinic at the University of Zurich. Adding even more gravity is that by his side are his two sons and his partner.

My read on the appointments is that he is not ever expected to return to work, which aligned with the reports on his condition doesn’t leave much room for doubt as to what is expected to occur.

There is no question that without him there would be no Ferrari today, no road cars and no factory race team. Obviously he didn’t do it on his own, as always it relies on the efforts of a team, not just one man. Plainly Sergio Marchionne had the confidence of those around him and together they were able to deliver Ferrari from the brick of financial disaster.

I wish him a speedy and full recovery, whilst being confident of neither.


As with all right minded people I wish him a fast recovery.

I’m not sentimental about him though. He is a business bully who was necessary for Fiat at a disastrous time, but along with the other manufacturers is trying to protect the status quo of the big teams in F1 (naturally of course as that’s his job), and that is to the long term detriment of F1. The engine rules are guff, the manufacturers are controlling too many of the lesser teams, and the budgets are way out of control – all caused by the manufacturers.

If the subject of the other Ferrari driver is being reopened, then for the sake of the sport stick Ricciardo, Leclerc, or Alonso in the 2nd car in that order of preference for me.

Would Ricciardo kick Vettel’s butt again? How good is Leclerc? And finally, Alonso is considered a legend, so how would Vettel stack up against him?

So far on basic comparisons he’s been easily quicker than Webber and Raikonnen, but was soundly beaten by Ricciardo. Raikonnen is closer to Vettel than he was to Alonso in outright pace. He’s a happy 4 time champion of course, but I want to see him up against another great teammate, but same goes for Hamilton as it’s a long time since he was in the team with Alonso, and with due respect to Button and Rosberg they are not all time greats.


You say Rosberg and Button did not match up to Hammy yet Rosberg beat him 1 out of the three seasons together (Might have been 4?) and Button beat him twice out of three seasons together .. so just how great is this Hamilton ? He won his first one by 1 point to the lesser regarded Massa and then won his others in a completely dominant car ?


Button deservedly beat him in one season when his head was messed up and he crashed into Massa a lot. Button good but not a great.

Rosberg beat him only because of mechanical failures on Hamilton’s side. That’s part of racing.

Massa had a better car, and I agree was a lesser driver.


Typical Hammy fan. Twisting facts all around.

Richard Mortimer

PaulD Interesting.

It is true that Hamilton and Alonso are the stand out drivers since M Schumacher. Vettel can’t quite cut it. As you point out, Ricciardo had the measure of him. On that reckoning, the 4 best drivers are Lewis, Fernando, Daniel and Max! Also, would Fernando or Daniel be world champion with Ferrari?

Sad about SM. He has done his work now, perhaps? Maybe F1 negotiations might go a little better?


That seems to be a lot of people to replace one man. I quite liked Sergio, I loved the contrast between his jumper wearing librarian look, and ruthless man of steel management style.

Tornillo Amarillo

following shoulder surgery, Fiat and Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne’s health had deteriorated and would not be able to return to work.”

Sudden step-down for a shoulder surgery has no sense, but some journalism said he got massive cancer and even that he got in comma.

It has to be denied or confirmed.

Very sad for all the F1 comunity. Formula 1 negotiation topics could wait now and hope for the better for him and the family.


Until the truth is revealed, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a serious Staphylococcus aureus (golden staff) infection. Some of it’s strains are drug resistant.

After having two knee replacements on one leg 7 years apart, I can tell you that it is the main concern with joint and bone operations where the wound is open for a prolonged time to complete the surgery.

I was seriously warned about this infection many times, which in older people can be extremely aggressive and quick to take over the body with many cases ending in long periods of hospitalisation, amputation … or at it’s worst, fatality!


You never know, I almost died during a “routine” surgery a few years ago because I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia, I’ve also known someone who got some crazy infection while recovering from a surgery. Any time you get cut open, there’s always a risk, no matter how good or careful the doctors are.


I have read where he suffered an embolism, post operative. This plus the cancer are are the reason that he most likely will not recover. Sad, but true apparently. Marchionne was a seriously good negotiator and business leader. He will be missed by many.


He went in for a relatively low risk shoulder sarcoma (cancer) surgery and suffered a brain embolism during the procedure. This has caused permanent brain damage and he is on a ventilator to keep him breathing.


What I find curious is that the Fiat board had a permanent replacement ready to step up quite literally at a moments notice. Especially since Marchionnes replacement is from outside of the company.

Anyway it will be interesting what direction this new leader takes Ferrari in and if he can maintain their winning ways.


All larger corporations have succession plans in place for all their leadership team from Directors and up as a minimum. In case of scheduled surgery involving full anaesthesia than ‘in case’ coverage is also mobilised.


From my understanding of the situation, they had already agreed Mr Marchionne would be stepping aside in the not-so-distant future anyway. Those are his own words. This would answer the question of why they had a replacement ready to fill the breach. A company the size of Ferrari couldn’t afford a lay-time between leaders.

Maybe this new situation will give Ferrari that extra edge they needed to either get what they wanted from Liberty …. or … as have been the rumblings in the background for many years, they run off with Bernie E, Flavio and their little black books full of jet-setting billionaire buddies who are awaiting the next big thing to pour their shiploads of cash into.

Rumours swirled around again after Bernie’s ultra-swish birthday dinner in London not that long ago. Just one of the huge private jets some of those guys flew in from the Middle East etc on could easily buy an F1 team!!!

Those big business players would love nothing more than to embarrass the current owners by sweeping Liberty and their “unwanted” American media ways aside. They could easily create a bold and brilliant new series to take the motor sport world by storm. The one that the teams and the die-hard F1fans want … instead of a media and internet circus for adolescent children with more interest in bitcoins, apps, tablets and online video games than the highly specialised intricacies and the all important glitz ‘n’ glamour of F1 racing.

Commercially, it would be the absolutely perfect time to make something like a breakaway possible because at present, Liberty are cleverly brewing a massive sporting media storm with the better part of a billion people “holding their breath” awaiting the outcome of the negotiations for the new formula. The immediate reaction would be unprecedented and the media would provide instant “FREE ADVERTISING” worth billions!

If anyone could … and more importantly … would do it, it’s Bernie and his long favoured right hand man Flavio.

Interesting times indeed!!!


I would say that Bernie now has too many miles on his clock but you never know!


It’s called succession planning. Any board worth it’s salt, particularly the board of a large company, will have one in place. Do not read too much into the rapid replacement.


Why do they want rid of the mgu H? Costs?


Yes and complexity


So now when Ferrari are competitive again after years in the doldrums they want to change the rules? Jesus that smells like 2005 all over again!


… and levelling the playing field.


Ferrari is arguably the fastest car
in the F1 field and has a strong chance of winning the world championship

Oddly enough, ever since Enzo passed and the subsequent anniversaries, a Mclaren driver has won the championship e.g. 1988, 1998 and 2008


Tough odds for Alonso to lift that one goferet! 😀


He is talking about ham 😉


OK, well that run’s come to an end, but I guess in 2018 it’ll keep up the record of a Mercedes-engined driver winning the title from 1998 and 2008


Certainly wishing Sergio a quick recovery and well wishes for better health

On the topic of Ferrari, indeed, Sergio pulled off a miracle and made the team a strong powerhouse once again which is a huge achievement because the team had been struggling without the benefit of unlimited testing

Having said that, I am not sure if the Ferrari team will ever be the same because Luca was the last boss who had Enzo’s blessings and wisdom on how to carry on the business

On the topic of the 2021 regulations, I think the new boss will insist the current engines are kept because currently Ferrari power is better than Mercedes power


Marchionne certainly took no prisoners in getting Ferrari firing on all cylinders. I assume alot of the staff will be able to unclench their sphincters and free a few petrified logs from Christmas past 😉.

I assume the new guy won’t be a sandal wearing acoustic guitar playing type of guy who hands out hug tokens and sings “🎵Lesbian Seagulls🎶” (Beavis and Butthead show☺)at a drop of a hat.

Speedy recovery Mr.Marchionne 🙏


LOL! Does any one know if Kimi plays a guitar? With enough vodka….. 😉

Never heard of this new guy, but I’m sure you’re correct about him being another corporate psychopath type. Once you reach the upper levels of large companies, these people are everywhere. Here’s hoping he’s a kinder, gentler-than-average corporate psychopath! 🙂

Stephen Taylor

Another thing which i’m surprised the article hasn’t brought up is how might this affect who drives the second Ferrari? Apparently Mr Marchionne was a big fan of Leclerc and wanted him next to Vettel next year according to most articles i’ve read elsewhere. James according to the indications your sources are getting from the team will the new management go with this or sign Ricciardo/Alonso or retain Kimi for 2019?


If the new Ferrari guy is as successful as his namesake, in the Italian and subsequent international literary/TV world then all will be well within Ferrari. IMO i very much doubt if there will be any driver changes so soon intohis new role.


Apparently Maurizio Arrivabene likes the harmony within the team – translated to mean keeping Vettel happy because he gets on well with a compliant Kimi – so as some of the Sky commentators speculated Kimi may keep the seat for ’19. Ferrari may also feel some sentimental attachment to Kimi because he was the last one to give them a WDC.

Very unfortunate news about Sergio Marchionne. I wish his well for a speedy recovery.


There’s the other side of the coin to consider as well.

What if Ferrari have already decided their future – and it does not include F1 post 2020?

In that case, why upset the applecart for two short years when things are going along swimmingly with little or no internal politics for a huge change. They currently have two highly experience, hugely popular drivers running at the pointy end of the field on most race weekends.

By bringing in a new driver, they upset Seb, which upsets Arrivabene, which upsets the team, which upsets the tifosi, which upsets Maranello, which upsets FIAT ….. etc etc etc.

As I wrote earlier … interesting times indeed!

Maybe they are finally going to throw away the F1 “floaties” and test the deeper waters of the marketplace by taking on the motor industry without the aid of F1 marketing or the FIA holding their hand.


Unfortunate to miss out Sergio. He is a character F1 needs, and a Strength FCA deserves.

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