The former CEO of Ferrari’s parent company Fiat-Chrysler Sergio Marchionne has died aged sixty-six in hospital in Zurich. Marchionne resigned as CEO on Saturday, following complications from surgery.
Marchionne had been appointed as CEO in 2014, following the departure of long-standing CEO Luca di Montezemolo. The Italian had planned to lead the group until 2019 and had been with Fait for a decade.
Acting chairman John Elkann said in a statement, “Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone.”
“I believe that the best way to honour his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion.”
According to the news agency ANSA, Marchionne suffered a cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery in Zurich. That placed him in intensive care, where he later suffered a second, fatal cardiac arrest. It did not give the timing of any of the cardiac events.
Fiat has declined to comment on that report.
Marchionne successor will be Mike Manley, currently the head of Jeep another one of the brand’s divisions.
Elkann has praised Mr Marchionne’s “values of humanity, responsibility and open-mindedness”. He added: “My family and I will always be grateful for what he has done.”
Marchionne was seen as the driving force behind the groups’ growth just before the financial crash. He is known for his signature black jumpers, sharp tongue and workaholic lifestyle, he is credited with saving both Fiat and Chrysler from bankruptcy.
An accountant and lawyer by training, Mr Marchionne joined Fiat in 2004 after the death of its patriarch Gianni Agnelli. His biggest impact on the group was the merger in 2009, between Fiat and Chrysler which has become one of the US biggest manufacturers.
He succeeded Luca di Montezemolo as Ferrari president in 2014 and in recent seasons F1’s most successful team have returned to title-contending form.
Marchionne became a key player in the politics of F1, following a major restructuring in 2014. He formed a powerful alliance with Daimler, who own Mercedes, to fight first Bernie Ecclestone and the sports current owners Liberty Media over the future direction of the sport.
He more than once threatened to pull Ferrari out of F1 after 2020 if he was unhappy with the changes.
His death could have huge implications for Ferrari in the short term when it comes to next years driver market. Marchionne was believed to be pushing for the team to replace Kimi Raikkonen, with Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc.
However, in recent weeks that has become unlikely.
Formula One Group chairman and CEO Chase Carey “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sergio Marchionne. He was a great leader of not just Formula 1 and the automobile world, but the business world overall.”
“He led with great passion, energy and insight, and inspired all around him. His contributions to Formula 1 are immeasurable. He was also a true friend to all of us and he will be deeply missed. At this difficult time we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.”
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal, Toto Wolff “This is a sad day for all of us in @F1. We have a lost a huge supporter of our sport, a fierce competitor, an ally and a friend. Our heartfelt sympathies are with Sergio’s family and all at @ScuderiaFerrari at this difficult time’
McLaren CEO Zak Brown tweeted “Very sad news about Sergio Marchionne. A great leader and an icon of the automotive industry.”
While a statement added “All at McLaren are saddened to hear that Sergio Marchionne has passed away. Our respects and condolences to his family and the whole @ScuderiaFerrari team.”
Toro Rosso “All of us at Scuderia Toro Rosso are saddened to learn of Sergio Marchionne’s death. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the @ScuderiaFerrari team.”
Former Ferrari driver and president of the FIA-KC, Felipe Massa “RIP #sergiomarchionne What a sad day !! We lost a leader in Motorsport and in the Sport #SergioMarchionne all my thoughts are with his family. Rip ??”