Who is Laurent Mekies? Visa CashApp RB’s Team Principal

Laurent Mekies has been involved in Formula 1 since 2001, working with numerous teams including Arrows, Toro Rosso and Ferrari

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A familiar name you will see on the pit wall throughout the 2024 Formula 1 season is Laurent Mekies, who is the team principal of the newly named Visa CashApp RB outfit.

Mekies has been involved in F1 since 2001, working with numerous teams including Arrows, Toro Rosso, Ferrari and is now back with RB. He also worked for a period with the FIA alongside Charlie Whiting.

The 46-year-old will have equal leadership responsibility with former FIA F1 executive director Peter Bayer, who is the CEO of RB, as the pair replaced Franz Tost at the end of 2023.

“Firstly, I’d like to pay tribute to Franz for the great job he has done over almost two decades in charge at Faenza,” said Mekies when he was announced as the new team boss.

“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.”

So, who is Laurent Mekies? Find out more about the ex-Ferrari deputy team principal and racing director here.

2022 Belgian GP – Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies | credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Early life and education of Laurent Mekies

Born in Tours, France in 1977, Mekies graduated in mechanical engineering from the ESTACA School in Paris.

He spent his final year at Loughborough University in the UK where he obtained a master’s degree and soon found himself involved in racing.

The Frenchman started his career at Formula 3 team Asiatech, a company founded in 2000 and soon found himself in the F1 paddock at Arrows.

Asiatech supplied Arrows with V10 engines for the 2001 season for free although they only scored one point that year courtesy of Jos Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mekies helped Minardi as a race engineer from 2002 before the team were acquired by Red Bull to become Toro Rosso.

During the change of ownership, Mekies was appointed chief engineer so was responsible for all trackside operations, from the construction of the car at the factory to the race team at the track. He went on to become the head of vehicle performance, managing six departments to develop the car.

Mekies saw Sebastian Vettel win Toro Rosso‘s only F1 race at the 2008 Italian GP on a wet weekend at Monza. Vettel also took pole position on the previous day which remains one of the most memorable weekends in F1 history.

During his eight seasons at Toro RossoMekies worked with several other drivers including Vitantonio LiuzziScott SpeedSebastien BourdaisJaime AlguersuariSebastien Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.

Joining the FIA and Ferrari controversy

At the start of the F1 turbo-hybrid era in 2014, Mekies joined the FIA to become their safety director.

He was in charge of all safety an medical matters, not just for F1, but all FIA championships such as Formula 2Formula 3Formula E and the World Endurance Championship.

In 2017, he was appointed as deputy race director, working with Charlie Whiting, who he was viewed as a potential successor to.

The following year saw controversy brew around Mekies as Ferrari appointed him to join their technical team on the eve of the 2018 season.

“Until his departure from the FIA at the end of June, Mekies will continue to act as the FIA safety director,” said an FIA statement.

“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 officially joined Ferrari as sporting director in September 2018 but only appeared at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi in November. His signing reignited a row between the teams over the recruitment of FIA personnel.

2022 Azerbaijan GP – Ferrari team boss Binotto and Laurent Mekies | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

In 2017, Renault hired Marcin Budkowski who was the FIA‘s technical chief so would have had access to key data and car designs from all teams which was seen as an advantage.

It was a similar case for Mekies as his time at the FIA would have provided him insight into every team which could be used to benefit Ferrari.

During Mekies‘ first 12 months at Maranello, claims were made that Ferrari were doing something with their power unit which was against the rules.

From the middle of 2018 until the end of 2019, Ferrari suddenly had the best straight line speed due to their powerful power unit.

A private settlement was made between the FIA and Ferrari ahead of the original start to the 2020 season, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, which coincided with a drop in performance.

“The whole thing has left quite a sour taste,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “Obviously you can draw your own conclusions from Ferrari’s current performance.

“There are races that we should have won last year arguably if they had run with an engine that seems to be quite different to what performance that they had last year.

“It’s obviously very tough for them, but I think their focus has obviously been in the wrong areas in previous years, which is why they’re obviously seem to be struggling a little with whatever was in that agreement.”

Frederic Vasseur and Laurent Mekies at 2023 Bahrain GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

What was Laurent Mekies role at Ferrari?

From the beginning of 2021, Mekies was Ferrari‘s deputy team principal and racing director, playing a key role in the on-track activities of the team.

He participated in press conferences and media duties for Ferrari, along with team principal Mattia Binotto.

It can be argued that Ferrari‘s strategic mistakes at the 2022 Monaco, British and Hungarian GP were partly down to Mekies as he had a say on who was appointed on the strategy team, which was led at the time by Inaki Rueda.

Wrong tyre calls, pitting at an inadequate time and a lack of trust in Ferrari‘s strategy team saw them regularly showed up by Red Bull and Max Verstappen, who went on to win a second world title.

Despite the criticism, Mekies insisted Ferrari are still “incredibly united” and suggested the history of the team amplifies their mistakes.

“You get a lot of interest as Ferrari in general and, yes, sometimes you probably get also a lot more criticism for given actions,” Mekies told Channel 4. “But I think, if you put all of that together, it’s also what makes Ferrari special.

“So, we take some of the downsides with a smile and we are conscious of our responsibilities, we are conscious of what the Tifosi, and perhaps more, are expecting from us and we need to continue working hard and making small steps that will make us stronger.

“We have had a few reliability issues, and we have made a few mistakes. If you add all of that, it’s simply telling us that we’ve made great steps forward this year with a faster car, but we need more work to do to be stronger all around and that’s what we are working on.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the 2022 French Grand Prix | REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Joining RB and returning to Faenza

A decade on from leaving the then-Toro Rosso team, Mekies returned as team principal of the Red Bull sister team in their new era as RB. Mekies spent six months on gardening leave from Ferrari after exiting the team in July 2023 ahead of the summer break.

Much of the team were moved from the Faenza base to the UK, as RB controversially became more aligned with Red Bull.

In January 2024, Tim Goss joined as chief technical officer, Alan Permane as racing director and Guillaume Cattelani as deputy technical director.

“The appointments of Tim, Guillaume and Alan add a vast amount of winning expertise to the team, and I have no doubt that they will help take the team to the next level in F1,” said Mekies.

“We already have a very strong and hugely experienced group at the team and bringing onboard highly skilled individuals like Tim, Guillaume and Alan will boost our capability and help us meet the highest technical standards, both at the factory and at the track.”

Laurent Mekies, Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo and Peter Bayer at the 2024 Visa Cash App RB Car Launch in Las Vegas | Red Bull Content Pool / Jesse Grant / Getty Images
John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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