Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo confirms resignation

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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has confirmed that he is to leave his position after 23 years at the top of the Italian marque.

After several weeks of speculation about his future, Montezemolo has stepped down despite telling the media at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix that he would be staying on for the time being.

Ferrari’s fortunes in Formula 1 have taken a downward turn in recent years. After a period of sustained success in the early 2000s, spearheaded by Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt, the team has not won a championship since 2008.

The arrival of Fernando Alonso in 2010 was intended to take the team back to its former glory, but he has instead become frustrated with the lack of success at Maranello.

In a statement issued today, Montezemolo confirmed his departure, calling it “the end of an era”.

“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,” it reads.

“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.”

Montezemolo will be replaced by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who came out on Sunday and criticized Ferrari’s recent efforts in Formula 1.

The departure of the president is just the latest change in a season of upheaval for Ferrari. Former team principal Stefano Domenicali resigned back in April, and was replaced by Marco Mattiacci, who himself refused to comment on rumors about Montezemolo’s future last Thursday.

Montezemolo will stay on as Ferrari president until October 13th.

Scott Dixon fastest on the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice

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Scott Dixon was fastest on the second day of Indy 500 practice Thursday, turning a lap at 226.102 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Takuma Sato was second, followed by Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.

The rest of the top 10 were: Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Fernando Alonso and James Davison.

THURSDAY PRACTICE: Click here for Day 2 speeds at Indianapolis

COMBINED SPEEDS: Click here for the overall speeds from the first two days

The session had one incident as Alonso crashed with just less than an hour left in the session. The Arrow McLaren SP driver was optimistic that the car could be repaired without a backup.

Among the other notables on the speed chart Thursday: Ryan Hunter-Reay (11th); Tony Kanaan (14th); Helio Castroneves (16th); Josef Newgarden (18th); Graham Rahal (19th); Will Power (23rd); Alexander Rossi (26th) and defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (27th).

Felix Rosenqvist (24th) and rookie Dalton Kellett turned the most laps (141) around the 2.5-mile oval.

Teams mostly focused on race setup Thursday as they will receive 80 extra horsepower in the “Fast Friday” practice that will feature speeds above 230 mph for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

The Indy 500 will take place Aug. 23; coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag at 2:30 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy