Ferrari trio speak up on losing Laurent Mekies to AlphaTauri and if it affects the F1 team’s situation further amid a difficult start.

There were already murmurs of Mekies wanting to leave Ferrari after he was overlooked as its F1 team principal when Mattia Binotto was ousted and Frederic Vasseur was taken on board to replace him. The Frenchman was looking to take up the job but wasn’t promoted.

He remained as the Sporting Director but not anymore as he has signed up to join AlphaTauri to replace Franz Tost and become its new F1 team principal. While his joining date isn’t set as yet but he is likely to be there for the 2024 season at least.

Speaking in Baku, Vasseur seemed calm about the situation and noted that they have a long-term deal with Mekies and they haven’t yet discussed when he leaves Ferrari to join AlphaTauri. The Frenchman is in Azerbaijan in his usual role with the Italian outfit.

Vasseur reckoned AlphaTauri went aggressive with their press release, even before discussing terms with the movement. With the loss of Mekies and David Sanchez, the Ferrari boss is not too fussed as he is more looking at the recruitment.

He is doing so behind the scenes and there will be a replacement of Mekies too and so losing couple of people from among the 1600 personnel, he is not too worried. But personally, he is happy for the Frenchman and reckons he will do a good job.

Vasseur is looking beyond and so are Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. They value Mekies, but they have no control over it and have full faith on their current boss to make the changes that is required to take the F1 team forward.

Here’s what was said on the departure of Mekies –

Leclerc: “I mean, let’s be honest, if we are speaking on track, first of all, the performance is not where we want it to be the first part of the season. The first three races for me was a disaster. But these three weeks I think was good to reset, to look a little bit at the things where we can optimize the package that we have that for now, it is what it is. We’ve been working on that. Then off track, of course, there is a restructuring for for the team and that’s clear. We had a really good relationship with Laurent.

“But we all understand I think, in the team that this opportunity is right to take, as it’s a really good opportunity for Laurent. So it’s like this. But 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. I think he has been open with what he wants to achieve and the way he wants to achieve it. And this gives me the confidence probably more than ever. So, as much as obviously it’s moving. I’m confident for the future.”

Sainz: “Well, personally, because I can only talk from my personal experience, I think he’s a great guy, very valid, very strong figure. He’s taking a step up in his career, so I can only be happy for him. I think obviously when you’re offered such an important role, I think you have to take it. But yeah, we are also hiring staff, is not like we are only losing no? We’re doing the best to restructure our team, to make it stronger. And I’m sure there’s going to be people coming, people arriving to compensate for the last few losses that we have. It’s just that maybe sometimes the losses are quicker than what you managed to get people back . But I’m quite confident with Fred’s approach to the management and the way it’s being handled because I see good things coming.”

Vasseur –

Losing Mekies –

Vasseur: “First of all, I think it is a mega opportunity for Laurent and considering also that I have a good relationship with him, I won’t block Laurent for sure. Then it is also – if you speak about the timeline – I think Toro Rosso [AlphaTauri] was probably a bit aggressive on the press release. We have a long-term contract with Laurent and we’ll have to discuss about the details.”

Discussions with him about leaving –

Vasseur: “This is between Laurent and myself, I won’t disclose details but we had a very open discussion on this because I know Laurent for 30 years and it is very difficult to refuse an opportunity like this, it was very open on the discussion. With regards to post Jeddah, 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. I’m there to protect Ferrari’s interests, and it is Ferrari first, and it will always be Ferrari first. It means that I will have to discuss the conditions [of Mekies’ departure].”

Losing the likes of Mekies and Sanchez –

Vasseur: “To lose two person out of 1600, it’s not a drama. 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.”

When he leaves, who replaces him –

Vasseur: “This is will depend on the conditions of the change. For sure as I said, we have a long-term contract with him and we’ll have to find the best for Ferrari – and depending on when he will move, we will decide the end of the collaboration. We are not scared about it, we will do it properly and the relationship is very positive. So far he is sporting director, the role is quite large and it will be part of the organisation of the company, you know that we are in a long process, it is taking time but we are recruiting a lot outside, we will have names quite soon but it will be part of the organisation and we could split the job into two different positions as some other teams are doing and this is part of the situation.”

Mekies wanted to be Ferrari team boss, AlphaTauri’s choice –

Vasseur: “I think this you have to ask Laurent but it is true if you want to become team principal in F1 team, you have 10 job in the world, perhaps nine in the past but it is not that you can find everywhere, if it was the personal goal of Laurent and I can perfectly understand this, you have to be ambitious, Laurent is an ambitious person and I think he did a very good job for Ferrari and I can understand the motivation and the expectation from himself. As a team, if you are looking for a team principal in F1, you don’t have a long list, people knowing F1 and the FIA and so on, it is only a list of 5 or 10 people in the group, it is not…(a lot). He has a very-very wide understanding of the business that coming from race engineer and FIA, for sure, in this kind of job you are looking for someone with the complete understanding of the business and I know he will do a good job.”

Here’s news on Laurent Mekies joining AlphaTauri

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Here’s Frederic Vasseur on no motivation lack

Here’s Carlos Sainz on Audi links

Here’s Carlos Sainz not agreeing with FIA’s call

Here’s Lapo Elkann urges Ferrari to look beyond politics

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