Ferrari is mourning the passing of Giovanni Agnelli, the honourary chairman of parent company FIAT, who died aged eighty-one. Agnelli was the grandson of the founder of FIAT and was chairman of the company for thirty years until the mid-nineties. During his time he revived the company by buying Autobianchi, Lancia and Ferrari and his involvement in Formula One was a major contribution to the team's progression.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was very close to Agnelli: "The death of Giovanni Agnelli leaves an unfillable void in my life," he said. "For over 35 years, his friendship and affection provided me with an incomparable reference point. I can never forget how often he was close to me during the most difficult moments and I attribute Ferrari's success to him, knowing full well what a fundamental role he played in achieving it."
Team principal Jean Todt said it was the end of an era: "I am very shocked by the death of Avvocato Agnelli [*], who was a legendary figure of inimitable style. Ferrari was always a special company for him and its achievements were of particular significance to him. He was always very interested in what went on at Maranello and supportive of our efforts over the years it took to become successful once again and he was involved in all our decisions. When, finally, we managed to win again, he shared our feelings of relief and joy. We knew we could always count on his presence and support. His passing marks the end of an era."
Five-time world champion Michael Schumacher added his respects: "I am deeply saddened by the death of Avvocato Agnelli. I always had a profound respect for him and I consider myself proud to have known him. Every time we met, I was made aware of his great understanding and interest in Ferrari, Formula 1 and soccer, as well as his sensitivity to the problems of the world."
[*]Editor's note: Agnelli studied law at Turin University and was familiarly known in Italy as 'Avvocato'.