New AlphaTauri team principal Laurent Mekies has been highlighted as “dangerous” to Ferrari in F1 2024 amid fears that he could persuade staff at Maranello to follow him to Red Bull’s sister team.
Mekies has replaced Franz Tost as AlphaTauri team boss for 2024, moving to Faenza after a five-year stint at Ferrari where he served as racing director and deputy team principal to Fred Vasseur.
Mekies officially left his role with Ferrari at the end of the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix before taking up his new position at Red Bull’s B team at the start of the new year.
Laurent Mekies named as huge Ferrari threat
According to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, Mekies has wasted little time in persuading former Ferrari colleagues to join him at AlphaTauri with Marco Matassa, the head of the Ferrari Driver Academy, agreeing to switch to Faenza.
The signing of Matassa – whose responsibilities will be assumed by Jock Clear on an interim basis – has been described as particularly “disturbing” for Ferrari given Mekies’ intimate knowledge of the team and their workforce.
The report claims Mekies not only has “a detailed and precise picture of the crucial men” at Ferrari, but “all their phone numbers too” – sparking fears that he could yet persuade more Ferrari staff to follow him.
Those fears are heightened given that Ferrari and AlphaTauri are the only Italian-based teams on the grid, potentially making it easier for Mekies to convince Ferrari staff and their families to make the move.
Following Mekies’ exit from Ferrari last July, Vasseur – who replaced Mattia Binotto as Ferrari team principal in late 2022 – spoke of his wish for the pair to remain friends despite their parting of ways.
He said: “We went to the same school in France, we’ve known each other for 25 years, he helped me a lot when I arrived at Ferrari, our relationship has always been very good and I want it to continue like that when we are competitors.
“It’s hard to part with Laurent but he is rightly ambitious: he will be one of the ten team principals in Formula 1, I couldn’t deny him this chance.”
The news of Matassa’s departure comes at a time Vasseur is expecting as many as 80 new people to join the Scuderia with “half to replace those who leave.”
During his first season in charge at Maranello, Vasseur repeatedly expressed his frustration with the extended period of gardening leave in place within F1 contracts as he sought to make new hires to build up Ferrari into a title-contending force.
Among those new arrivals will be Mercedes performance director Loic Serra, who will be prevented from linking up with Ferrari until the end of 2024.
Serra originally joined Mercedes in 2010 following spells with ex-F1 tyre supplier Michelin and the BMW Sauber team.