FORMER Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has died, aged 66, it has been announced.

Marchionne was stood down from his role only on Saturday following complications from shoulder surgery.

John Elkann, who was confirmed as Marchionne's replacement, said in a statement issued on Wednesday: "Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone.

"I believe that the best way to honour 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 Manuela, and his sons Alessio and Tyler."

After he replaced Luca di Montezemolo as Ferrari chairman in 2014, Marchionne became one of the most influential figures in Formula One.

He helped to re-establish the Italian constructor as a leading force in the sport, while also being vocal on the future direction of F1.

Ferrari are eight points behind Mercedes in this season's constructors' championship, while their lead driver Sebastian Vettel is second to Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' standings.

British team Williams tweeted: "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."