Carlos Sainz says he understands Laurent Mekies’ decision to leave Ferrari and take a “step up” to a team principal role.
Race director Mekies’ long-rumoured departure was confirmed on Wednesday when AlphaTauri announced the 45-year-old Frenchman would replace the retiring Franz Tost at the end of the 2023 season.
It is another big name in a recent Ferrari exodus with Mekies joining Mattia Binotto and David Sanchez out the Maranello exit door.
Ferrari have yet to name Mekies’ successor but Sainz says he could understand Mekies’ decision to move onto a team principal role.
“I can only talk from my personal experience but I think he’s a great guy,” Sainz told reporters in Baku. “[A] very valid, very strong figure.
“He’s taken 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.”
Sainz was also quick to stress that although it may look like more are heading out of Ferrari than currently coming in, there was work going on behind-the-scenes to recruit some new faces.
“But we’re also hiring staff. It’s not like we are only losing one. We’re doing the best also to restructure our team, to make it stronger.
“Yes maybe sometimes the losses are quicker than how you manage to get people in but no but I’m quite confident with Fred [Vasseur]’s approach, the management and the way it’s being handled because I see good things coming too.”
It has not been an ideal start to the season for Ferrari but he suggested after a three-week break, the team understood their car better.
“We do know our car much better, especially after these three weeks,” the Spaniard said. “We’ve managed to put together some good analysis and good directions for a future to chase in our development programme.
“This was target number one of this three-week break to really identify the weaknesses that we have, the strengths of our direct competitor and try the best we can do to come back and fight them as quickly as possible.
“Our chances this weekend should be similar to the chances in Australia. It is true that in Australia we took a bit of a different path on setup that it seemed to work.
“We were quite quick in the race where in the past we’ve struggled so I hope that we can keep going in that direction and feel more competitive this weekend again.”