One imagines it as something like a scene from a Bond movie, stony faced Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne sitting there, finger on a red button under his desk as the Ferrari boss hears the words "Signor di Montezemolo, we do not tolerate failure..." and the Piranha fish sharpen their teeth below.
The reality is probably rather more dull, corporate and political but whatever the story behind it self-styled Ferrari 'presidente' Luca di Montezemolo's era at the top of Ferrari has been ended after speculation about his future raged following further disappointments at Monza this weekend. With his Cavallino slightly less than Rampante, at least on the track, Montezemolo appears to be paying the price for a disappointing run of results in F1. Seemingly you can turn a tidy profit in the road car division but if you ain't winning the big prizes in F1 you're a nobody, Marchionne widely quoted as describing the F1 team's performance as "unacceptable."
We're guessing it probably wasn't all smiles
Marchionne will take di Montezemolo's position himself, saying of di Montezemolo in a Fiat statement "Luca and I were appointed to the Fiat Board of Directors on the very same day back in 2003. As Chairman of Ferrari, he drove the company to a new level of technological and organisational excellence which also brought with it outstanding financial results. Luca and I have discussed the future of Ferrari at length. And our mutual desire to see Ferrari achieve its true potential on the track has led to misunderstandings which became clearly visible over the last weekend. I want to thank Luca for all he has done for Fiat, for Ferrari and for me personally."
As head of Ferrari since 1991, di Montezemolo's aristocratic demeanour and presidential leadership of Ferrari has defined the brand both in motorsport and as a builder of road cars, not to mention marketing machine of considerable power. A charismatic speaker and leader, a di Montezemolo press conference could verge between political rally and religious sermon, his piercing stare and passionate belief in Ferrari's pre-eminence the very embodiment of the brand's self confidence and swagger. F1 disappointments or not, his shoes will require some filling but such is Ferrari's need to win even his long-standing service and success in turning a profit weren't enough to save him.
His official leaving statement is below - ciao Luca...
The final message from Il Presidente...
Luca di Montezemolo's statement in full:
"I leave after 23 unforgettable years"
Maranello, 10th September 2014 - "Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street. This will open up a new and different phase which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the Group.
"This is the end of an era and so I have decided to leave my position as Chairman after almost 23 marvellous and unforgettable years in addition to those spent at Enzo Ferrari's side in the 1970s.
"My thanks, first and foremost, to the exceptional Ferrari women and men from the factory, the offices, the race tracks and the markets across the world. They were the real architects of the company's spectacular growth, its many unforgettable victories and its transformation into one of the world's strongest brands.
"A warm farewell and my thanks also to all of our technical and commercial partners, our dealers across the globe and, most particularly, the clients and collectors whose passion I so wholeheartedly share.
"But my thoughts go also to our fans who have always supported us with great enthusiasm especially through the Scuderia's most difficult moments. Ferrari is the most wonderful company in the world. It has been a great privilege and honour to have been its leader. I devoted all of my enthusiasm and commitment to it over the years. Together with my family, it was, and continues to be, the most important thing in my life.
"I wish the shareholders, particularly Piero Ferrari who has always been by my side, and everyone in the Company the many more years of success that Ferrari deserves."