Marchionne steps down at Ferrari due to poor health

Sergio Marchionne has stepped down from his role as the Chairman and CEO of Ferrari, after his health deteriorated following surgery.

The news was confirmed on Saturday, with Ferrari naming John Elkann as the successor to the chairman role.

It has been put forward to the shareholders that Louis Camilleri, the former Philip Morris chairman, should take over as the Ferrari CEO.

“The Board of Directors of Ferrari NV learned with deep sadness during its meeting today that Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne will be unable to return to work,” a Ferrari statement read.

“The Board’s thoughts are with Sergio Marchionne and his family and it is grateful for the extraordinary contribution he has made in recent years at the helm of Ferrari.

“The Board has named John Elkann as Chairman and will propose to Shareholders, at a meeting to be called in the coming days, that Louis C. Camilleri be named as CEO. The Board has also given Louis C. Camilleri the necessary powers to ensure continuity of the company’s operation.”

Marchionne had been running the Ferrari team since taking over from Luca di Montezemolo in 2014, and was a key player in their return towards the top in recent years.

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Vettel: ‘Shame about Lewis…I mean it’

Sebastian Vettel was sympathetic about Lewis Hamilton’s early exit in qualifying for the German Grand Prix.

The two title rivals were poised for another pole position battle at the Hockenheimring, but that failed to materalise as Hamilton suffered a hydraulics issue and was forced to stop the car in Q1.

Vettel, meanwhile, set the home fans wild with a fifth pole position of the 2018 season and the 55th of his career. His 1:11.212 two tenths quicker than his nearest rival Valtteri Bottas.

“Obviously we saw but I don’t know what exactly happened,” Vettel said about Hamilton’s incident.

“It doesn’t really matter. We will see what happens tomorrow. Obviously you look after yourself. For me it was a good session and everything went smoothly.

“You always try to push the limits. Don’t wish anything bad or technical issues to happen to anyone. It’s a shame to see him go out, and I mean it.

“But you look after yourself. The most important part of the weekend is the race.”

Vettel revealed he had a great feeling about the Ferrari car during qualifying and was confident that he could put pole position in the bag.

He added: “In qualifying the car was a pleasure to drive.

“Some days you can feel already when you go out, and do your first flying lap, that you have something in your hands that you can play with.

“That’s the feeling I had today. And from there it just got better. It was more about tuning myself. In the sessions before sometimes I did get the laps together, sometimes I didn’t – I was trying different things.

“I knew in Q3 I could get quite a bit out of the car and myself, and made it work. Really happy, both laps on the limit.

“Then the adrenaline kicks in. It’s quite a good feeling when you get everything right. Really, really happy with the car and the work we’ve done overnight.”

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Marchionne set to step down as Ferrari boss

Ferrari president and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is poised to step down with a quick replacement set to be made.

According to Automotive News Europe, Marchionne was due to step down later in 2018, but a departure is now imminent because of health issues caused by a recent shoulder operation.

Meetings have been held on Saturday to discuss his replacement, with board member and former Philip Morris chairman Louis Carey Camilleri said to be the favourite to take over as CEO of Ferrari.

Marchionne has had a significant impact on Ferrari, most recently bringing Alfa Romeo back into Formula 1 as title sponsors of Sauber.

He also been a strong voice throughout the decision-making process of the 2021 regulations, threatening to pull Ferrari out of Formula 1 if they were not to the team’s liking.

Fiat and Ferrari are not currently making any comment on Marchionne’s potential departure.

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Sauber not ruling out Raikkonen return

Sauber have refused to quash rumours that Kimi Raikkonen could return to the team next season in what would be a straight swap with Charles Leclerc.

While it has been widely reported that Ferrari are considering Leclerc for next season, earlier this week Swiss publication Blick reported that Raikkonen could be signed as the Monaco driver’s replacement.

That would see the Finn return to the team with whom he began his Formlua 1 career in 2001.

Asked if Sauber could handle the pressure of racing a World Champion, team boss Fred Vasseur told Autosport: “It is a problem for the rich?

“I don’t care, I want to have the best guys into the car, this is the most important for the team, and no sacrifice with performance.

“It is much better to have a World Champion than someone who won nothing.

“I am just focused on performance. The most important for me is to have the best line-up for next year and the future. That is my only concern.”

Vasseur, though, insists he won’t let the fact that Raikkonen or any driver has a history with Sauber sway his decision.

“Honestly, it would not be a good approach,” he said.

“In the driver selection and choice, it is important to have a common approach and not because I ran with a guy in F3 15 years ago, or he drove for Sauber 10 years ago.”

Raikkonen spent a year with Sauber, scoring nine points on his way to 10th in the championship. The following season he moved to McLaren.

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Vettel expects three-way battle for pole position

After Red Bull topped both practice sessions on Friday, Sebastian Vettel is expecting a three-way battle for pole position for the German Grand Prix.

It has been shown that both Ferrari and Mercedes turn their engines down on a Friday, and they both of course have the infamous “party mode” for Q3.

Despite this, the four-time World Champions believes that the Red Bulls will be in the hunt for pole on Saturday afternoon.

“Especially for one lap, they are strong. I haven’t seen much of the Red Bulls on the long run. But one lap it definitely is,” Vettel said after practice.

“It seems very close. I think it will be crucial to have a solid day tomorrow and a good result. It always helps and that is what we will try to do.”

One factor for the race on Sunday could be tyre management, with temperatures expected to be hot, leading to blistering on the Pirelli rubber.

On this topic, Vettel was slightly less worried.

“We tried to do a little bit of everything. We succeeded quite well with the tyre choices we had today. We were doing something different across cars as well so I think it was fine,” he continued.

“Our ultra-softs had some blisters at the rear as it is very hot. We will see, the track usually improves ahead of Sunday but we will see. I am happy we weren’t the only ones.”

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Vettel defends Hamilton’s ‘tactics’ complaint

While Sebastian Vettel still considers Lewis Hamilton‘s post-British Grand Prix conspiracy complaint to be “silly”, he says he understands why he said what he did.

Hamilton accused Ferrari of using “interesting tactics” after Kimi Raikkonen hit him on the opening lap at Silverstone.

The impact pitched Hamilton into a spin, dropping him down to 18th place.

And while he recovered to finish second, the Brit was not at all happy with Ferrari in the immediate aftermath.

He subsequently accepted Raikkonen’s apology.

Asked about Hamilton’s comments, Vettel defended his title rival to Sky Sports.

“I think it’s fine,” he said.

“Obviously it was silly to say it but we are racing, we’ve all been there and it’s never great if you are hit without doing anything wrong.

“It’s also fine to express your opinion even if it’s not right or reasonable.

“It’s human, so I think it’s fine.”

The German also congratulated Hamilton on his new two-year Mercedes contract.

“Congrats!” he said. “I don’t know why it took so long but I think it was pretty clear.

“You want to fight the best and Lewis has been one of the best since he entered Formula 1.

“It’s good to be there.”

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Vettel diplomatic on Kimi/Leclerc conundrum

Sebastian Vettel has said he is not actively pushing for Charles Leclerc to become his team-mate at Ferrari and is happy alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

Ferrari are faced with a key decision ahead of the 2019 season: whether to retain the services of Raikkonen for another year or thrust their rising star Leclerc into the Scuderia spotlight after impressing at Sauber.

With his own future very much secure at Ferrari, Vettel was asked about who his team-mate would be next season and whether he had any preference.

“I would be happy to continue like that but it is not for me to mention, or to decide,” Vettel said in the FIA drivers’ press conference in Germany.

“I think Charles, one way or the other, will have a great career. He is a great guy, he is fast and has everything.

“He has no rush. He is young, but if you are young you are always in a rush with everything!

“I don’t know when or what and ultimately who [my teammate will be]. But…it doesn’t really matter to me.

“For me it is clear where I am next year but I think both of them would suit into the team.”

Vettel also reiterated that he has a strong relationship with his current team-mate Raikkonen.

“I like Kimi,” Vettel added.

“We get along, and we have never had any issues.

“Sometimes on track I remember I drove into him and crashed into him, but the way we handle things is very similar and very straightforward.”

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