F1 rumours: Ferrari exodus continues as Laurent Mekies departs for rival

Sam Cooper
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies gestures during a press conference. Singapore October 2022.

Laurent Mekies gestures during a press conference. Singapore October 2022.

Ferrari’s staff loss is rumoured to have continued as they have lost assistant team principal and race director Laurent Mekies to AlphaTauri.

Rumours of the Frenchman leaving Maranello date as far back as March with Italian outlets reporting then that he was looking for a move away to either Alpine, the FIA or Formula 1.

But a new report from Gazzetta dello Sport now suggests he will instead make the short trip to Faenza to link-up with AlphaTauri and the move will take place at some point in the next 12 months.

Mekies is not the first high-profile departure from Ferrari in recent months with Mattia Binotto having resigned at the end of 2022 before long-serving chief engineer David Sanchez departed for a move to McLaren.

Like Sanchez, Mekies will be forced to wait a while to join his new team as he serves his gardening leave but it is a surprising move to see the high-ranking Ferrari official move to a team he left in 2014.

The Frenchman first joined F1 with Arrows before he switched to Minardi. When the team was taken over by Red Bull and rebranded as Toro Rosso, Mekies served as chief engineer before leaving to join the FIA.

As to why Mekies has reportedly decided to leave, that appears to be due to a falling out with the Ferrari higher ups. Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Mekies, who served as Binotto’s right-hand man, was said to be upset he was not considered for the top job.

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In March, reports also emerged that Mekies was unhappy with the leadership style of Benedetto Vigna, Ferrari’s CEO, and was growing frustrated with the latter’s insistence to play a hands-on role.

When rumours emerged last time, Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur was said to have vetoed Mekies’ move but it now appears the Frenchman was unable to do the same this time round.

Vasseur has only been in the job for four months but is already facing plenty of fires that need extinguishing. Charles Leclerc is said to be unhappy and there are rumours linking him to Mercedes. Meanwhile the SF-23 continues to underwhelm.

The Ferrari boss said in March there was a particular department which needs to improve but declined to state which one.

“I try to get the message across that benefits come from everyone, including logistics staff,” he told AS. “Because if they can make a minimum saving, that will go directly to the car. Not just aerodynamics and engine.

“Same with reliability, each employee is part of the reliability goal when they design and produce the part. That is the mentality I want, to convince everyone that they bring benefits.”