Stefano Domenicali has stepped down as Ferrari boss, calling time on a six-year spell as team principal of the Formula One outfit.
ESPN's Staff provides a statement from Domenicali discussing the move:
"There are special moments that come along in everyone's professional life, when one needs courage to take difficult and very agonising decisions," said Domenicali. "It is time for a significant change. As the boss, I take responsibility, as I have always done, for our current situation.
"This decision has been taken with the aim of doing something to shake things up and for the good of this group of people that I feel very close to. Finally, I would make the final thanks to our President for having always supported and a salute to all the fans with the regret of not having gathered how hard sown in these years."
ESPN's Staff also provided a statement from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo discussing Domenicali's replacement, former Ferrari car sales chief Marco Mattiacci, "I also want to wish all the best to Marco Mattiacci, whom I know to be a highly regarded manager and who knows the company well," Montezemolo said. "He has accepted this challenge with enthusiasm."
ESPN's F1 branch first reported the major development:
Reports in Italy suggest Stefano Domenicali has resigned as Ferrari boss. More to follow...— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) April 14, 2014
Domenicali has come under mounting pressure during Ferrari's disappointing start to the current season. Currently on their worst winless run for 18 years, reported by Ian Darke of the Press Association and via the Daily Mail, Ferrari's dominance has been ousted by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull across the last four seasons.
Indeed, seven campaigns have whizzed past since the Italian company landed their last Drivers' Championship. Kimi Raikkonen's 2007 triumph was the team's last overall success, perhaps amplified by the Finnish driver's return this season. Ferrari won six of eight titles between 2000-07, highlighting a huge shift in the F1 landscape across previous years.
Domenicali admitted his team need to improve "at all levels" after the recent Malaysian Grand Prix, per Darke. He acknowledged this process "is not easy to solve" and will take time, especially considering the plethora of changes added to this season's cars.
It seems Domenicali doesn't believe he is the man to lead such a transition. Ferrari lacked commanding power during the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso and Raikonnen finishing ninth and tenth respectively, suggesting there's plenty for the ailing team to work on.
Is it the correct time for Stefano Domenicali to step down?
Although Domenicali said his colleagues "must not get downhearted," per the Press Association and via The Guardian, it's no coincidence his reported resignation comes shortly after president Luca Di Montezemolo attended first race of the year. As noted in the aforementioned report, the Italian overseer had legitimate cause to be "far from happy with what he witnessed."
It seems likely the end of Domenicali's tenure was to be agreed by mutual consent or forced upon him. Performance failures cannot afford to linger at Ferrari, and with pressure mounting from Di Montezemolo, it is a wise move for all to call time on Domenicali's leadership as principal.
This decision comes early enough in the season that it could still have a positive effect on Ferrari. Fans will have grown used to disappointment and an unnerving lack of competitiveness, but with Domenicali allegedly gone, may find reason to look forward with greater intensity.