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Stefano Domenicali has paid the price for Ferrari's worst start to the season under the current points structure despite having the services of two world champions at his disposal.
The Italian team is currently fifth in the constructors' championship after three races, with even mid-field team Force India – which embarrassed the scarlet cars at the Bahrain Grand Prix – ahead in the standings.
After four seasons trailing behind the dominant Red Bulls, Ferrari is now lagging significantly behind Mercedes this year – so far 78 points adrift and devoid of even a podium finish.
Ferrari is even behind Red Bull – albeit by just two points – despite the defending world champions enduring a nightmare pre-season test sessions.
"There are special moments that come along in everyone’s professional life, when one needs courage to take difficult and very agonising decisions," Domenicali said about his decision to resign from his role as team principal, a position he held since 2008. "It is time for a significant change."
Despite dropping the underperforming Felipe Massa for Kimi Raikkonen this year, Ferrari has failed to capitalise on its star line up as it fell back in providing a competitive car to its drivers, which includes double world champion Fernando Alonso.
"As the boss, I take responsibility, as I have always done, for our current situation," said Domenicali, who has been with Ferrari for 23 years. "This decision has been taken with the aim of doing something to shake things up and for the good of this group of people that I feel very close to.
"I hope that very soon, Ferrari will be back where it deserves to be," he added. "I only regret that we have been unable to harvest what we worked so hard to sow in recent years."
Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who witnessed the team's miserable performance from the garage during his attendance in Bahrain, thanked Domenicali for his "great sense of responsibility... in always putting the interests of Ferrari above all else."
Domenicali had replaced Jean Todt at the end 2007 and helped Ferrari win the constructors' championship in his first year in charge. However, the team has failed to secure a driver's title under his guidance.
Felipe Massa was close in 2008, while Alonso lost out in the final race in 2010 and again two years later. It was hoped the new changes to the sport would help turn the tide but Ferrari has remained off the pace.
Ferrari has not won a race since Alonso's victory at the Spanish GP almost a year ago, the team's worst run in nearly 20 years.
Domenicali has been replaced by "highly regarded manager" Marco Mattiacci, current president and CEO of Ferrari North America, with immediate effect ahead of this weekend’s Chinese GP.
Domenicali's future is unclear.
With inputs from The Associated Press.