Ferrari Plucks Deputy Race Director From FIA to Fill Technical Role
Mekies will join the Scuderia in September, prompting rumors about team secrets being traded.
Several top Formula 1 teams have properly confronted the FIA about trade secrets being swapped amongst rivals. These worries, originally prompted by the move of F1's former Technical Chief Marcin Budkowski to Renault, were broadcasted by Mercedes, Red Bull, and others in October of last year. Now, it's likely that they will be rekindled as Ferrari announced on Wednesday that the FIA's Safety and Deputy Race Director Laurent Mekies will be joining the Maranello team in fall of 2018, filling an undefined technical role.
The Italian outfit revealed that Mekies will report to Ferrari Technical Director Mattia Binotto in September. Despite the wait, Mekies will step down from his F1 role immediately although he's slated to fulfill his safety duties for a three-month period according to an FIA statement.
"Until his departure from the FIA at the end of June, Mekies will continue to act as the FIA safety director," said the FIA. "However he will immediately cease all F1 duties and will no longer be involved in any F1 matter, stepping down from his role as a deputy F1 race director with immediate effect."
Mekies started with the FIA in 2014, eventually being promoted to his role as Deputy Race Director in 2017. Some thought that he could be the successor to Formula 1's current Chief Race Director Charlie Whiting in the future, though that opportunity is likely gone following his switch to Ferrari.
Leaders like Red Bull's Christian Horner believe that three months is not nearly long enough for past FIA officials to wait before taking on a team role. Speaking on the Budkowski situation last year, Horner elaborated by saying,
"He has been in an extremely privileged position where he has extremely recently been in people's wind tunnels and been looking at intimate details of knowledge of next year's cars," he said. "I think three months notice period and for him to then turn up in a competitor team in F1, is entirely inappropriate."
It's unclear how others will react to the Mekies move, but with Ferrari at the forefront of F1's public image, many will surely take on a critical approach.