Earlier this month, news broke that the FIA’s Safety Chief and Deputy Race Director Laurent Mekies will leave his post to join Ferrari, reporting in to Technical Director Mattia Binotto. The move sparked fierce debate amongst teams, similar to that provoked last year when it was announced that the FIA’s F1 Technical Director Marcin Budkowski was leaving the governing body to join Renault.
In both instances, some teams argued it was compromising to have someone switch allegiances so quickly, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner saying that after the Budkowski switch, all teams agreed that an employee should take 12 months gardening leave ahead of such a change. When asked about Mekies’ move, Scuderia Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene bullishly defended his team’s actions and suggested there was no such agreement in place: “There is nothing wrong with that. We were respecting absolutely local law, the Swiss local law, where Laurent was hired. Afterwards we went even further than that because we gave him six months of gardening leave. However, having said that, what we have discussed before is that we have signed a confidentiality agreement that means we are not allowed to discuss or share in public what we discuss there. Having said so, I heard comments related to a supposed or so-called ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ and I think they are comments because a ‘gentlemen’s under labour law is illegal. I thought that were comments, just comments and no more than that.” – the current team principal of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team explained.
Ahead of the 2018 Australian Grand Prix, Maurizio Arrivabene admitted there was a discussion with other teams, but insisted no agreement had been made and instead it was left with the FIA’s lawyers to come back with a proposal at the next strategy group, which is on the 17th of April.