Marco Piccinini, widely tipped as a possible successor to current FIA president Max Mosley, has surprised followers by announcing that he is to step back from his current role with the governing body in order to concentrate on other commitments.
The former Ferrari man, who holds the position of deputy president for sport at the FIA, announced to the World Motor Sport Council on Tuesday [7 October] that he would leave the role one year before the end of his term, confirming that his resignation would take effect from the next FIA General Assembly, on 7 November, when his successor will be elected.
Piccinini first came into contact with grand prix racing when he took over the running of the Principe Societe de Banque de Monaco, which had been founded by his father. Among the bank's customers was Enzo Ferrari, but it was not until 1977 that their paths became entwined, Piccinini having first dabbled in his own racing projects, notably in the F3 category.
When neither Daniele Audetto or Roberto Nosetto came up to scratch as replacements for Luca di Montezemolo at Maranello, Ferrari turned to the 25-year old, giving him the reins of team for the start of 1978.
Piccinini played a central role in shaping the current Formula One scene, having been a key figure during the FISA-FOCA battles in 1980, and helped develop the Concorde Agreement along with Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, whose friendship stemmed from their opposition to FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre.
Piccinini continued to head up the Ferrari team until il Commendatore
died in 1988, stepping back when FIAT took over and eventually reinstalled di Montezemolo in the role of president that Piccinini has acceded to prior to his departure.
Having established himself as an important figure in world motorsport, the Italian was asked to take over the running of the national sporting body, the CSAI, and, as a result, became a member of the World Motor Sport Council. He resigned from the CSAI in 1994, but remained as Italy's representative at the FIA, moving up the ranks when he was elected as Mosley's deputy president in 1998.
Because of his position, Piccinini was widely tipped to take over from Mosley should the Briton decide to stand down as president, but the opportunity has never presented itself - even when Mosley found himself embroiled in a sex scandal earlier this year. Although the president's position should become vacant this time next year - when Mosley has said he will stand down at the end of his current term - Piccinini will now no longer be around to accept it.
The appointment of his successor could indicate the future leadership of the governing body, although grandprix.com
suggests that 'a weak candidate replacing Piccinini [would] suggest that Mosley will try to hold on to power', possibly from a different role in the FIA Senate.
Elsewhere, the FIA has mandated Alan Donnelly - the president's official representative - to ensure that the German national motorsport authority, the DMSB, 'is truly independent of the ADAC and capable of running the sporting power in the country'. The ADAC was among the notable critics of the decision to give Mosley a stay of execution following a vote of confidence resulting from coverage of his sexual activities.
Meanwhile, the WMSC has also agreed to propose to the FIA General Assembly that sporting power in India be transferred from the Motorsports Association of India [MAI] back to the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India [FMSCI]. The move is being seen as a means of marginalising the controversial Nazir Hoosein.