Franz Tost out and Laurent Mekies in as part of major AlphaTauri changes

Sam Cooper
Franz Tost and Laurent Mekies.

Franz Tost and Laurent Mekies.

Franz Tost will leave his role as AlphaTauri team principal at the end of the season to be replaced by Laurent Mekies.

Tost is the second longest-serving team principal on the grid behind only Christian Horner having been with Red Bull’s sister outfit since its inception in 2005.

The Austrian joined the team in November of that year and in his time has been principal to the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

But he has recently hinted at his retirement, suggesting he would not want to be in the paddock when he is 70, three years from now, and now his exit plan has been confirmed.

The 67-year-old will leave his role at the end of the current season and in his place comes former Ferrari man Mekies whose departure from the Italian outfit was rumoured earlier this week.

Mekies has history with the Faenza-based team having been promoted to team engineer after Minardi was taken over by Red Bull.

The Frenchman left in 2014 to take up a role at the FIA before moving to Ferrari in 2018 but has been reportedly increasingly unhappy with the situation at Maranello.

Mekies is not the only new arrival with former FIA executive Peter Bayer joining later this year as CEO.

Speaking following the announcement, Tost said it was time to hand over the reins but thanked the late Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz for giving him a chance.

“First of all, I would like to thank Dietrich Mateschitz, who gave me the incredible opportunity to be team principal of Scuderia Toro Rosso and Scuderia AlphaTauri for the past 18 years,” Tost said.

“It has been a true privilege to lead the team for such a long period and a great pleasure to work with so many motivated and skilled people, who share my passion for Formula 1.

“With 67 years old it is time to hand over and with Peter as new CEO and Laurent as team principal, we found two very professional people, who will bring the team to the next level. I want to thank everyone for the good cooperation.”

Having most recently served as deputy team principal and racing director at Ferrari, it will be Mekies’ first time in the top job but he said he was “honoured” to be joining his former outfit.

“Firstly, I’d like to pay tribute to Franz for the great job he has done over almost two decades in charge at Faenza,” the 45-year-old said. “I wish him well for the future and I know that both Peter and I will rely on his input and advice in times to come.

“Looking forward, I am honoured to take on the role of team principal and to return to the team where I spent a large portion of my early career. Scuderia AlphaTauri has all of the ingredients necessary for greater success in the future and in tandem with Peter I’m looking forward to making that happen.”

AlphaTauri have stated Mekies will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the team, including technical, manufacturing, support function and race team operations while Bayer’s role will be strategically focussed.