Mekies on finding benefits from Ferrari F1 gardening leave

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Gardening leave will end up at the end of this month for the former Ferrari sporting director Mekies who will officially join AlphaTauri as team principal on January 1 working alongside CEO Peter Bayer after boss Franz Tost heads for retirement.

At the end of the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, Mekies has left his role in Ferrari, starting his gardening leave at the beginning of the summer break and has not worked since then.

Despite having initially saw the period of pause as frustrating, the former Maranello team member reveals that the time away has been useful and beneficial. In a certain way it actually saved him from the intensity and responsibility of taking up the role in the middle of the season, as he explained at the Autosport Awards in London:

“At the very beginning, when I realised I had to wait all these months, it was a bit frustrating, 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.”

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

On the occasion of his last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, Franz Tost revealed he is confident that the team is in good hands with Bayer and Mekies at the lead.

“First of all, Peter is with us since June and I think that we are working together very closely. He understands the team now much better, and he has got a lot of experience. He knows F1.

“And Laurent Mekies anyway was working with us, he knows the team from the past and I think that these two people are absolutely the right people to take over the team.

“And I expect that they will bring the team to another level because both of them have a lot of experience. Both of them know F1, and I’m convinced that they will do a very good job.”

It is time for changes for AlphaTauri regarding all aspects. The team will in fact reveal their new name next week when the official 2024 F1 entry list is released by the FIA.

“It will be for AlphaTauri to announce whatever name change they choose,” said Christian Horner, boss of sister team Red Bull.

“There’s a lot of speculation about naming and so on and of course, you’ve got company names, you’ve got entrant names that pay deference to partners as well.

“I’m sure, when the timing is right, they’ll announce what their rebrand is going to be for next year which will be as Franz’s chapter comes to a close. Peter and Laurent Mekies have ambitious plans for the team as they go forward.”