Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies says the Italian outfit was “surprised” by the news of CEO Louis Camilleri’s sudden retirement but insists chairman John Elkann’s interim role as chief executive will ensure the team’s “stability and continuity”.
Camilleri unexpectedly announced on Thursday his departure from the helm of Ferrari for “personal reasons”.
However, it appears the 65-year-old has been battling the coronavirus, and while he is now out of harm’s way, the difficult period has encouraged him to take a step back from his corporate responsibilities.
Camilleri, a long-standing Philip Morris executive, had taken over the reins of Ferrari in July 2018 following the untimely passing of Sergio Marchionne.
“It was a surprise for all of us when we received the note from our chairman,” admitted Mekies, who is overseeing the Scuderia’s operations this weekend with team boss Mattia Binotto remaining in Maranello.
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies
“None of us were aware, but it’s the way it goes for this kind of situation. I’ve seen what our chairman communicated in terms of the reasoning, it’s understandable.
“Louis has been very hit badly with COVID and even though it was not life-threatening, it’s been very tough and I’m sure it’s not the only reason but certainly it’s something that I guess at the stage where he is and [with his] achievements it is probably something that makes you think your priorities differently.”
While the Egyptian-born American’s presence on the F1 scene has perhaps been less prominent than that of Marchionne, Camilleri has nevertheless been a strong supporter in the wings of Ferrari’s involvement in the sport.
- Read also: Ferrari CEO Camilleri retires with immediate effect!
Fiat-Chrysler and Ferrari chairman John Elkann will take over Camilleri’s chief executive responsibilities on an interim basis.
“It’s a shame because the level of support we got from Louis, from our chairman, through to Mattia, has been incredible in these two years,” Mekies explained.
“Especially this year, in crisis time and you always say it’s in crisis times that you find out how this thing goes. So the level of support we got was incredible, he was certainly one of the strong drivers of this.
“The good news for us is that our chairman is stepping in for the interim role and therefore it could not be better to give us stability and the right continuity in terms of support.
“We will try to finish the year on a good note and all regroup at the factory with Mattia and the management team.”
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