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I’m chuckling to myself even as I begin to pen this. This is sacking season at Ferrari and TJ13 readers and I were batting ideas around on who may be in the frame for this particular round back in November.
Luca Colajanni head of communications for Ferrari F1 has been ‘offered’ and accepted a move to the car division and a ‘Europe/Middle East’ role, he will be replaced by Renato Bisignani. It is delightfully ironic that Ferrari have just bumped this out there, nothing on the website and no explanation. Communication indeed.
Luca was the guy who would appear on TV usually when there was some Ferrari crisis that meant Stefano could not be present. Byron Young of the Daily Mirror commented, “Sad to see Colajanni go. He’s a nice guy, quality PR man with real style. Ferrari man to his core who could (and did) argue black was white.”
The Times correspondent Kevin Eason tweeted, “So farewell Luca Collajani, Ferrari’s top PR man. Top guy and much liked even after he put me on the naughty step once”. Palermo-born Luca has been writing about Ferrari and motorsports since the early 1990s. He was the driving force behind the early Ferrari websites and has headed the Ferrari motorsports press office for several years.
For those who have read the secret Ferrari insider column, clearly written by someone senior in the F1 team, may believe Luca Colajanni was behind the ‘horses head’.
Having pondered matters for a while, I began thinking back to Japan when the whole wind tunnel affair became public knowledge. Stefano Dominicali’s oblique comments suggesting the F1 car development would be fine for the rest of the year and that ‘the wind tunnel will not become an excuse for Ferrari engineers’, I noted appeared strange at the time.
The following week we then had the wind tunnel thesis on the Ferrari.com website and the subsequent Fernando row with Pat Fry in Korea – when Alonso allegedly threatened to text the world and tell us his car had no new aero development since May.
I mentioned a few times back then that I would love to know who decided what went out on Ferrari.com because it seemed a bit of a free for all – vying sides of the political debates seemed to all appear to be having their say. Wonderful for us! Maybe this is why Luca has been ‘offered’ a move out of F1 and into the car division.
Anyway, who is Bisignani? He studied at the esteemed “Scuola di Direzione Aziendale” (School of Business Administration) which is the graduate business school of the Bocconi University in Milan. He was Deputy Commercial manager for the Renault F1 team before moving to Ferrari where his rather broad title of “Business Development Manager” tells us not a lot.
F1passion, an Italian blog site called this appointment over 3 weeks ago, on the 23rd December. They also report that Renato was originally recruited from Renault at the behest of Il Padrino, Luca de Montezemolo. This is hardly surprising with Luca’s known political connections to Berlusconi, who in turn is said to have appointed ministers to the Italian government on the say of Renato’s father Luigi.
Renato ought to make sure that public access to his Facebook page is sorted soon, as he has home page postings include….
Young Bisignani also has a twitter account with 174 followers and he follows the following select list of people. He is following Felipe, Fernando and WSJ business news too but I couldn’t fit them on the screenshot.
He has not yet uttered his virgin first tweet though – yes and I know many TJ13 readers do not use twitter – but having a role in communications for an F1 team requires the incumbent to be capable of issuing the odd tweet. You would have thought Ferrari would have appointed someone who is fully conversant with the twittersphere. Hey ho. “We are Ferrari…and we bask in the glory of Ferrari”. ;)
However, Renato has a rather infamous father, Luigi who the Corriere del Serra suggest is ‘one of the most powerful man in Italy’ (LINK). Luigi was the Italian treasury ministry’s press officer during the 1976 and 1979 governments of Giulio Andreotti. When not working for the treasury ministry’s press office, Bisignani acted a current affairs reporter for the Italian ANSA news agency.
He was implicated in the 1990’s as part of a secret group of peopled called ‘P2′ by the Italian prosecutors. This was a society of the highest influence and extended into the upper echelons of the Vatican. It is believed that billions were laundered through the Jonus Foundation set up to help poor children, and the subsequent investigation was known as the “Enimont’ operation.
The accounts showing each of the deposits and withdrawals from the fund were ‘lost’ by the Vatican, and three of the accused in the Enimont saga died in tragic circumstances.
“Tthe President of ENI Gabriele Cagliari with a plastic bag on his head in a cell of St. Victor, the director of the operation Enimont, Raul Gardini, was shot with a 7.65 caliber round at his home in Milan, the Director-General of the State Holdings, Sergio Castellari, had his face crushed in the Roman countryside.” as reported by Il Fatto. They suggest, Luigi walked away with a couple of billion in face bearing bonds marked, “pay the bearer the sum of….”.
Luigi Bisignani was eventually sentenced in 1998 to two years and six months in prison on knock down charges relating to illegal transfers of funds and he was expelled from Italy’s journalists’ association.
In more recent times Renato’s father has served as the Executive vice president for the international business Ilte Pagine Gialle group (yellow pages) and was an advisor to the Italian rich and powerful who sought his opinion and connections.
Luigi he was to experience a not so pleasant Deja Vu when in June 2011 the Italian prosecutors came knocking again.
Bisignani was placed house arrest in connection with accusations of aiding and abetting and actual passing on of state secrets to third parties. These charges were in conjunction with what became known in Italy as the ‘P4′ Investigations into a corruption ring with many illustrious Italian names filling national papers. The list seems to be without end and includes businessmen, high ranking politicians, policemen, secret service agents, a general, and the ex-director general of Italy’s RAI state television.
Luigi agreed to a ‘plea bargain’ with the Italian prosecutors in November 2012 according to Corriere del Serra. He will give evidence against his co-accused and in return will serve 1 year and 7 months in jail.
Eat your heart out Dan Brown. Anyway, we should be gentle with Renato – his family reputation clearly could weigh heavy on his young shoulders. Yet I suspect he is a very savvy young man and has learned from his father’s experience – one way or another.