In the Ferrari headquarters these are intense and very busy days leading up to the next round of the 2023 Formula One championship, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The Maranello team, which has already suffered quite a bit on the track in the first three races of the season and is coming from the bitter result (zero points) in the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuuit, is in the midst of a controversial situation linked with sporting director Laurent Mekies, which is rather difficult to manage.
Laurent Mekies has been officially announced by AlphaTauri as the next team principal of the Faenza-based team, which will separate from its historic reference manager, Franz Tost, at the end of the year.
Laurent Mekies’ departure is part of a broader internal restructuring process carried out by Ferrari’s team principal, Frederic Vasseur. However, the sporting director’s departure was not expected, at least in the very short term. Fred Vasseur indirectly confirmed this during a press conference organized by Ferrari, in which he touched on the situation of managing the Scuderia’s management:
“For Laurent, this is a great opportunity – commented Vasseur – I certainly wouldn’t have stopped him.” – he admitted.
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However, Ferrari’s boss did not hide some annoyance for AlphaTauri’s excessive haste in announcing a transfer that, however, does not seem destined to take place before the end of this season: “Timeline? The Toro Rosso (Vasseur calls it like that, referring to the old name) was a little aggressive with the press release, we will have to discuss the details. When did Laurent come to talk to me about it? I will not discuss with you the slightest details of this, but certainly Laurent and I had a very open discussion,” explained the former Sauber boss. “I have known Laurent for many years and I am aware that it is difficult for him to refuse this type of opportunity.”
In the recent past, ahead of the Jeddah weekend, Fred Vasseur had guaranteed that Laurent Mekies would not leave the Scuderia in the short term. However, something has evidently changed:
“I believe that the offer was not the same – commented the French manager with a hint of irony – I think that when you are in this environment, becoming a team principal is an offer that is almost impossible to refuse. Now my task is to protect Ferrari’s interests. Ferrari comes first. Will Laurent Mekies stay with Ferrari for the whole season? It will depend on the terms we agree on. We have a long-term contract with him, and we will have to find the best solution for Ferrari. The replacement? It will be part of the team’s reorganization process. We could split that role into two different positions, as other teams do.” – the French manager concluded ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.