Sergio Marchionne has died following a recent illness just days after stepping down as Ferrari CEO and chairman.

Marchionne, who took over as Ferrari CEO and chairman following the resignation of Luca di Montezemolo in September 2014, had been in the process of handing over to his successors after falling ill.

An FCA group statement on Saturday confirmed the 66-year-old was unable to continue in his role due to his poor health with Louis C. Camilleri named as CEO with current vice-chairman John Elkann stepping up as chairman at Ferrari.

The Ferrari figurehead had been planning to hand over controls at the start of 2019 but given his health complications the process was accelerated following complications after recent surgery.

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” FCA chairman Elkann said in a statement.

The Italian-Canadian is credited with leading the Fiat and Chrysler merger in 2011 saving the firm from bankruptcy.

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Formula 1's CEO and chairman Chase Carey has led the sport's tributes to Marchionne and passed on his sympathies to those closest to the ex-Ferrari head.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sergio Marchionne,” Carey said. “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.”

FIA President and former Ferrari CEO Jean Todt has also expressed his tribute to Marchionne and calls his death 'a considerable loss' to both F1 and its governing body.

“It is with great sadness that I learned that Sergio Marchionne tragically and unexpectedly passed away.” Todt said. “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.

“He was an eminent member of the FIA F1 Strategy Group and of the FIA High-Level Panel for Road Safety. His death is a considerable loss. On behalf of the entire FIA community, all my thoughts go out to his family, his friends and his Ferrari and Fiat-Chrysler group teams.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff added: “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 Ferrari at this difficult time.”

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