Laurent Mekies, the current Racing Director for the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team, was recently interviewed by RacingNews365 and provided details about his role at the Maranello team, as well as the difficulties and challenges he faces.
The French engineer joined Scuderia Ferrari three years ago and has been part of the Maranello team which has worked on the F1-75 project, a challenger that has brought the Italian side back in to race-winning contention in the 2022 Formula One championship.
Across his time in Formula 1, the 45-year-old Frenchman’s position has evolved from a technical and engineering position to a higher-level sporting role, and Mekies details what this means in his day-to-day work for Ferrari.
“My role is to make sure that our race team have what it needs to perform best,” Laurent Mekies said, in the interview for RacingNews365 – “The race team is formed of many different departments, the technical and the non-technical come together, become a race team and then travel all around the world. In between the races, they go back to the factory to get the small improvements for the next race, and our job is to make sure that not only we have the best environment for these guys here, but also that all our processes make us work in the most efficient way possible. [We want] every talent we have here [to be] able to express itself, because we do it in a way that gives us a competitive edge.” – the French engineer added.
Laurent Mekies’ tasks related to the ‘sporting’, non-technical area of the sport are a somewhat different career route for somebody who has a mechanical engineering degree and has spent several seasons working in engineering roles. The Ferrari Racing Director admits that he currently does not have a common job given the route for career progression, but feels the technical and sporting responsibilities need similar skills and pointed out to other examples of successful Sporting Directors with technical backgrounds.
“Although you may see that there are not so many examples, it is quite natural switch, because today’s sport is all as one, you are used to dealing with regulations on the technical sides, so it is a fairly natural switch. There was Sam Michael (formerly of Williams and McLaren), there was also Alan Permane in Alpine, and actually now my role has evolved. I’m a racing director and [Head of Race Strategy] Inaki Rueda is now participating to the sporting advisory committee. He’s the guy representing us there and doing sporting events, and he has also come from an engineering background. It’s about being involved, trying to learn, trying to contribute to the sport that we love, and it is a fantastic thing to be able to do it on different parts of the wall.” – he continued.
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When asked about the biggest challenges he and the Maranello team face, Laurent Mekies admitted that having to work with the limitations imposed by the budget cap was one of the major aspects for Ferrari, especially taking into consideration the fact that the Italian side has historically had one of the biggest budgets in Formula 1.
He also explained that he feels one key issue is making sure the opponents also respective the budget cap rules, given the ever-evolving nature of the budget cap regulation:
“Yes, the level of the constraint is huge. It is not finished because, as you know, there are various steps in the budget cap, and then you also have the new cars, they came into the equation. I think it’s the beginning of the adventure, because the real discussion is not about the numbers of the cost cap, or how much [it] is going up by, or if it is going up with inflation, or the plan reductions. There is one key factor: policing. For us as a sport, it took years and years and years, and decades, to mature the regulations, and you have something that is massively constraining the top teams. Therefore, the level of policing you need to have on that is extremely high.” – the Racing Director concluded.
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