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Former Ferrari F1 chief Sergio Marchionne dies at 66

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Legendary automotive industry CEO and former Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne died at 66 on Wednesday in Milan, Italy.

The Agnelli family, which is the holding company that controls Fiat, announced Marchionne’s death in Zurich, Switzerland.

His death is believed to have resulted from complications of recent right shoulder surgery he underwent. The company announced last week that Marchionne would not return to his post with Fiat, a somber indicator of what was expected to occur.

Marchionne reportedly suffered an embolism during the surgery, which resulted after he bad reportedly been diagnosed with invasive shoulder sarcoma.

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” John Elkann, FCA President and Ferrari Chairman, said in a statement. “I believe that the best way to honor his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion.

“My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done. Our thoughts are with [partner] Manuela (longtime partner Manuela Battezzato), and his sons Alessio and Tyler.”

The charismatic Marchionne was a leader both at the race track and in the corporate board room. In addition to leading Ferrari’s F1 fortunes as company president for more than a decade, he also is credited with saving financially troubled Fiat and Chrysler from what many believed was certain extinction.

While he had a demanding style of leadership, he also was endeared and looked upon with great admiration for both his leadership and generosity.

Marchionne, who maintained Italian and Canadian citizenships, never got the chance to see his vision for Ferrari off the racetrack to be implemented. A new business plan was expected to be announced in September that would expand the Ferrari brand, including putting Ferrari motors inside Maserati’s.

Marchionne had planned on retiring as CEO of Fiat Chrysler at the end of the year.

“He taught us to think differently and to have the courage to change, often in unconventional ways, always acting with a sense of responsibility for the companies and their people,” Elkann said. “He taught us that the only question that’s worth asking oneself at the end of every day is whether we have been able to change something for the better, whether we have been able to make a difference.”

As for Ferrari’s racing fortunes, Marchionne helped lay the foundation for the team’s rebound in Formula One. Ferrari leads all F1 organizations with 16 constructors’ titles, but the last one came in 2008.

However, Ferrari has roared back this season to title contention for both the constructors’ and drivers’ titles (with Sebastian Vettel), winning four of the first 11 races of 2018.

Here are several tributes to Marchionne’s passing from those in the racing community (courtesy The Associated Press):

* Formula One CEO Chase Carey: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sergio Marchionne. He was a great leader of not just Formula 1 and the automobile world, but the business world overall.

“He led with great passion, energy and insight, and inspired all around him. His contributions to Formula 1 are immeasurable. He was also a true friend to all of us and he will be deeply missed. At this difficult time we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.”

* Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff: “This is a sad day for all of us in F1. We have a lost a huge supporter of our sport, a fierce competitor, an ally and a friend. Our heartfelt sympathies are with Sergio’s family and all at Scuderia Ferrari at this difficult time.”

* British F1 team Williams issued a statement via Twitter: “We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Sergio Marchionne. On behalf of all at Williams, we would like to express our condolences to Sergio’s family, friends and ScuderiaFerrari.”

* FIA president Jean Todt: “It is with great sadness that I learned that Sergio Marchionne tragically and unexpectedly passed away. Sergio achieved a colossal amount for the automotive industry and motor sport worldwide.

“He dedicated himself fully to turn around the FIAT-Chrysler group and put all his energy to bring Scuderia Ferrari back to the top. He was an endearing, upstanding and brave man, an unconventional and visionary leader. … His death is a considerable loss.”

* IMSA Chairman Jim France: “Sergio Marchionne was Chairman and CEO of several important automobile companies with significant history in motorsport. He was one of the most influential personalities the auto industry has ever seen, and that influence manifested itself on the racetrack through numerous race victories and championships over the years. On behalf of IMSA, I offer our sincere condolences to Sergio’s family, friends and numerous business associates. He will be remembered as an icon of the industry and will be missed by many who considered him a friend.”

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister