Stefano Domenicali has made a shock announcement overnight, confirming that he is stepping down as Ferrari’s team principal with immediate effect. His position will be taken over by Marco Mattiacci, CEO of Ferrari’s North American arm.
“There are certain moments in the professional life of each of us where it takes courage to make tough decisions,” Domenicali is quoted as saying in a Ferrari media release.
“It’s time to implement a major change. I take responsibility – as I always have – for the situation we are experiencing. It is a choice taken with the desire to do something to give a jolt to our environment and for the sake of this group, which are closely linked. I sincerely thank all the men and women of the team, the drivers and partners for the wonderful relationship we have had in these years. I wish you all that you can quickly return to the levels that Ferrari deserves.”
Domenicali was promoted to the role of Ferrari team principal after the retirement of Jean Todt in 2008, a year when Ferrari last won the Constructors’ Championship.
But the team has failed to reach the giddy heights since, as season after season, the team has failed to produce a car capable of challenging for the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles, with the cars’ performance largely flattered by some stellar drives by Fernando Alonso.
This year has seen a terrible start for the team, with its F14T and bespoke power unit failing to prove competitive in the opening three Grands Prix. While Domenicali’s quotes claim the decision is entirely of his own making, the recent presence – and obvious displeasure – of Ferrari chief Luca do Montezemolo at the Bahrain Grand Prix could hint that there was a helping hand pushing on his back as he fell on his sword.
The Italian is the latest in a run of team principals to quit, transfer – or be forced out – of their positions in the last six months. The list includes the likes of Ross Brawn (Mercedes, resigned/pushed), Eric Boullier (Lotus, transferred to McLaren), and Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren, future unknown).
Into the breach at Gestione Sportiva steps Marco Mattiacci (pictured left), a 42-year-old Roman whose automotive background can be traced to his teens when he started out with Jaguar Italia in 1989.
After studying Economics at the Universita’ La Sapienza di Roma, he worked in strategic consulting in the UK before getting a call from Ferrari in 1999 to work on developing its sales strategy in various regions.
Two years later, he was heading up Maserati’s launch in the US before becoming Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Ferrari Maserati North America.
Subsequently, he’s worked similar roles for Ferrari’s Asia-Pacific arm – later becoming its President – and then transferring as President and CEO of Ferrari North America, where he has remained at its New Jersey headquarters.
While he clearly has a strong commercial acumen, Mattiacci’s CV hardly speaks of extensive – or any – motorsport experience.
Images via Motorsport.com and Wobi