Published On: Wed, Mar 14th, 2018

Safety director Laurent Mekies leaves FIA for Ferrari F1 role

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Ferrari has lured FIA safety and deputy race director Laurent Mekies from Formula 1’s governing body, a move that will likely prompt fresh controversy about secrets being taken to teams.

Less than six months on from Renault’s signing of FIA technical chief Marcin Budkowski prompting an outcry among rival teams, Ferrari announced on Wednesday that Mekies was joining it in an unspecified technical role.

Mekies will report to Ferrari’s technical director Mattia Binotto when he joins the team later this year.

In a statement issued by the FIA, the governing body said that Mekies would step down from his F1 responsibilities but would continue to fulfil safety roles while he sees out his three-month notice period.

“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 joined the FIA in October 2014 as safety director and has worked on safety matters across all championships as well as R&D and homologation activities.

At the start of 2017 he was appointed deputy F1 race director and had been viewed as a potential successor to current race director Charlie Whiting.

It is unclear how teams will react to Mekies’ move, but Budkowski’s capture by Renault last October prompted huge unease among teams and forced Renault to delay his arrival at its Enstone base until April this year.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said at the time that it was unacceptable for senior FIA figures like Budkowski to only serve three months’ gardening leave.

“He has been in an extremely privileged position where he has extremely recently been in people’s windtunnels 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.”

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