New AlphaTauri boss had ‘great luck’ with much-maligned part of F1

Michelle Foster
Laurent Mekies moving from Ferrari to AlphaTauri.

Laurent Mekies moving from Ferrari to AlphaTauri.

Although Laurent Mekies was initially frustrated with his enforced ‘gardening leave’ holiday, the soon-to-be AlphaTauri team boss says in hindsight it was “great luck” to have that time off.

Mekies spent his last Sunday on the Ferrari pit wall at the Belgian Grand Prix as he said farewell to the Scuderia and his days as their sporting director.

The Frenchman, who was rumoured to have been disappointed when Ferrari signed Fred Vasseur as the new team boss instead of promoting him, signed with AlphaTauri to take over from the retiring Franz Tost in January 2024.

Laurent Mekies will join Red Bull’s junior team on 1 January 2024

As such he found himself on an extended ‘gardening leave’ break as is the norm in Formula 1.

But what initially frustrated him, turned out in highsight to be a good thing, admits the 46-year-old.

“At the very beginning, when I realised I had to wait all these months, it was a bit frustrating,” he said at the Autosport Awards. “Because you want to jump straight away and think how you can contribute and support.

“But the truth is if you have gone from a job to another straight away, you will probably be taken straight away by the intensity of the racing calendar, by the day-to-day decisions that you have to make.

“So it’s been actually quite a great luck to have to step back, to have to look perhaps at the bigger picture, to have a chance to think on how you want to do a lot of things. It could be all about finding great people there.

“It’s really what is our sport now. It’s the people, it’s the people-to-people. And that’s very much what I’m looking forward to start with again.

“I’m very, very fortunate to come from an incredible racing family and going to another incredible racing family. So very, very grateful.”

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Next season AlphaTauri will fall under two-tier leadership with Mekies as the team boss and former FIA F1 executive director Peter Bayer in the role of CEO.

The new management structure coincides with the rebranding of the team, the Red Bull junior squad getting a new name and new look ahead of the 2024 season.

Speaking to Austria’s Kleine Zeitung early this season, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko announced the changes.

“AlphaTauri will have two new leaders in Laurent Mekies and Peter Bayer from 2024,” he said.

“There will be new sponsors and also a new name. The orientation is clear: based on Red Bull Racing, as far as the regulations allow. Do-it-yourself constructions are the wrong way.”

AlphaTauri finished this year’s championship in eighth place after a late-season surge saw the team score points in four of the last five races.

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