Ferrari Formula One boss Mattia Binotto has handed in his resignation and will leave at the end of the year, the world championship runners-up said on Tuesday.
The news came after considerable media speculation that the 53-year-old, whose contract was due to expire at the end of 2023, had lost top-level support after another failed title challenge.
Ferrari had said this month that rumours of Binotto facing the sack were 'totally without foundation' and the principal assured reporters on November 19 that he was relaxed about his future.
He stopped short then of categorically stating he would be in his current job at the start of next year, however, and the silence of company chairman John Elkann was telling.
"With the regret that this entails, I have decided to conclude my collaboration with Ferrari," the Italian sportscar manufacturer quoted Binotto as saying in a statement announcing his departure.
"I am leaving a company that I love, which I have been part of for 28 years, with the serenity that comes from the conviction that I have made every effort to achieve the objectives set.
"I leave a united and growing team. A strong team, ready, I’m sure, to achieve the highest goals, to which I wish all the best for the future. I think it is right to take this step at this time, as hard as this decision has been for me."
Ferrari said they had started the search for a replacement, likely to be finalised in the New Year.