It is being reported by Italian paper Il Giornale that Ferrari’s chief engine designer Lorenzo Sassi has left the team on direct order from President Sergio Marchionne.

The departure, which has not been officially confirmed by the Scuderia,  apparently occurred earlier this week.

The move is considered as a surprise given the progress accomplished this season by Ferrari on its power unit front.

But reports are also suggesting that Marchionne may have moved Sassi to Ferrari’s road-car division in order to bolster its engine department, with the engineer’s expertise held in high regard by the Italian manufacturer’s boss.

The team is also scheduled to introduce a major engine upgrade at the British Grand Prix next week, which should provide the team’s SF70H with an extra boost of performance.

Questioned by a reporter at today’s media conference in Austria, Sebastian Vettel feigned to ignore the news.

“I don’t know what you are referring to,” he said. “It is better you ask a little bit higher up.”

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