Piccinini was born into a wealthy and well-connected Catholic industrial family in Rome. He studied architecture but never completed his studies because he became fascinated with motor racing through the de Sanctis family - which owned a FIAT dealership in Rome and built Formula Junior and F3 cars in the 1960s.When Marco was in his teens his father decided to sell the family businesses and use the money to establish a private bank in Monte Carlo - the Principe Societe de Banque de Monaco. One of its customers was Enzo Ferrari.When his father died Piccinini took over the running of the bank, but his interest in motor racing led him to establish a racing car company called Automobiles MP which built an F3 car - the MP301 - in 1974. It was raced at Monaco that year by Italian Formula 3 Champion Carlo Giorgio but was not very competitive. The MP301 reappeared a few times in Italian F3 races but was then sold. Piccinini went back to banking.At the end of 1977 Enzo Ferrari was casting around for a Sporting Director. After Luca di Montezemolo left the team at the end of 1975, the job had been held by Daniele Audetto (1976) and Roberto Nosetto (1977) but neither was the man Ferrari wanted to be his eyes and ears in Grand Prix racing. He decided that the discreet 25-year-old banker might be a good bet and offered Piccinini the job. He naturally jumped at the chance and took charge of the Ferrari F1 team at the start of 1978 with drivers Carlos Reutemann and Gilles Villeneuve.He developed into an adept political player during the FISA-FOCA war of 1980. With Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone - who became friends - Piccinini became one of the architects of the Concorde Agreement. He continued to represent the team - becoming a director of Ferrari SpA in the early 1980s - until Enzo Ferrari died in the summer of 1988 and FIAT took over. In mid-1991 he returned briefly after Cesare Fiorio was fired but in November that year FIAT named Luca di Montezemolo as President of Ferrari.In 1993 he was asked to take over the running of the CSAI, the Italian national sporting authority, and as a result he took a seat on the FIA World Motor Sport Council. He resigned from the CSAI post in 1994 after a battle over the future of the Italian GP but stayed on as Italy's representative at the FIA and in June 1998 he was elected Deputy President of the FIA.