Backlash Begins Over Ferrari’s Acquisition of Former F1 Deputy Race Director

Red Bull boss Christian Horner voices his disapproval of the Maranello move.

byCaleb Jacobs|
F1 photo

It was announced earlier in March that Ferrari had acquired FIA Safety Chief and former Deputy Race Director Laurent Mekies to fill an undisclosed technical role with the team. This news came just six weeks after Renault similarly hired a former race governing body official, Marcin Budkowski, which was widely criticized by teams and individuals across the sport. Now, more of that same disapproval has been expressed towards Maranello as Mekies is serving what some consider to be too short of a stint away from his role with the FIA before joining the Ferrari squad. 

Red Bull's oft-outspoken boss Christian Horner was quick to go against Renault's acquisition of Budkowski and is exercising that right again with Mekies. The 44-year-old Brit recently expressed his stance on the situation, mentioning that the three-month absence being served by the ex-FIA official is only a fraction of what had previously been agreed on. 

"It was quite clear that, with the FIA, FOM, or vice versa from a team, that there would be a 12-month grace period," Horner told Motorsport. "I even made comments that it should be accompanied with a million dollar donation to the FIA Road Safety Foundation—which the president [Jean Todt] was particularly receptive to."

"So what is disappointing is that within six weeks of that meeting, here we are with an individual that will be going with a huge amount of knowledge and know-how."

Mekies, who formerly served in a technical role with Toro Rosso, will fulfill his duties as FIA Safety Chief for the 2018 season., Getty Images

Horner elaborated by saying that not long ago, Mekies was one of several FIA workers that had access to key specifics from each team. According to him, this makes the quick-draw move unwarranted and he should be forced to wait longer before joining Ferrari. 

"Only last November/December, our technical staff are sitting in meetings discussing with him suspension systems, etc., and that is his value."

"And it is wrong because you place trust in these officials, rightly so, because they are the governing body. It is wrong then for that to end up at a competitor."

While it's permissible for Mekies to keep the aforementioned knowledge internally, any drawings or data would be deemed illegal. Horner added he "obviously doubts" that Mekies has any of these documents, but it should still be taken into consideration by higher-up officials.

"But he still has the know-how in his head and that is something… it is not what we agreed."