until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Vasseur criticises AlphaTauri’s ‘aggressive’ Mekies reveal

by Matt Beer, Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur says AlphaTauri was “a bit aggressive” in how it announced the signing of Laurent Mekies because the “details” of his exit from his Ferrari contract are not yet agreed.

AlphaTauri issued a press release on Wednesday evening revealing that Franz Tost would step down from his team principal role – which he has held since Red Bull acquired what was previously the Minardi team ahead of the 2006 season – at the end of this year, with Mekies leaving his position as Ferrari sporting director to take Tost’s place.

Mekies was an engineer at what was then Toro Rosso before moving first to the FIA in 2014 and then later joining Ferrari.

Vasseur emphasised that he was not at all opposed to Mekies’ move and was happy that his colleague would get the opportunity to lead an F1 team himself.

But he said the deal was not yet properly finalised.

“First of all, I think it’s a mega opportunity for Laurent, considering also that I have a good relationship with him,” said Vasseur. “And I won’t block Laurent, for sure.

“Then I think it’s also – if you speak about timeline – I think Toro Rosso [AlphaTauri] was probably a bit aggressive on the press release, and we have a long-term contract with Laurent and we’ll have to discuss about details.”

He added: “I’m there to protect Ferrari’s interests, and it’s Ferrari first and it will always be Ferrari first, it means that I will have to discuss about the conditions of this.”

Whatever is decided around the timing of Mekies’ departure and any ‘gardening leave’ period will be agreed “properly” and collaboratively, said Vasseur.

“We have a long-term contract with him and we’ll have to find the best for Ferrari,” he underlined.

“And depending on when he will move to Toro Rosso [AlphaTauri], we will decide the end of the collaboration. We’ll do it properly and the relationship is very positive.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Australian Grand Prix Practice Day Melbourne, Australia

Mekies’ exit comes despite Vasseur denying earlier this year that it was going to happen.

Asked about that disparity by The Race, Vasseur replied: “But I think the proposal was not the same! And I can’t perfectly put myself in Laurent’s position.

“But I think it’s quite impossible to refuse, when you are in this business, to become team principal now.”

Mekies is the second recent Ferrari departure after its head of vehicle concept David Sanchez committed to a McLaren move.

Vasseur played down the significance of this.

“To lose two persons out of 1600, it’s not a drama,” he said.

“You know that the power of the team is always more important, and the power of the group, than the individuals.

“We have to keep this in mind, that the most important is the group. The group is there, we are recruiting massively, we are not communicating that but we are recruiting massively.

“And we will do that step by step because you can’t put an organisation in place in two weeks. You know perfectly the system of the recruitment in F1, it’s quite long and painful.

“But we are working on it. Don’t expect that one day you will have a new organisation. It will be step by step and we are putting something in place.”

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day One Sakhir, Bahrain

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc echoed Vasseur’s stance on both Mekies’ decision and what it meant for the team.

“Off-track of course there’s restructuring for the team and that’s clear,” said Leclerc.

“We had a really good relationship with Laurent but we all understand in the team that this opportunity is right to take [for him], as it’s a really good opportunity for Laurent. So it’s like this.

“The team is more than one person and I’m very confident for the future, with Fred having what he has in mind, I’m really confident.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks