The impact of these changes is felt in Maranello as well, causing Ferrari and its new team leader Fred Vasseur yet another headache.
The departure of Mekies from Italy’s most famous team is not ideal. Red Bull has already been a challenge to turn around in the form of SF-23.
Vasseur, who had already lost a highly-experienced engineer in David Sanchez earlier this year to McLaren, has now lost another high-profile person with the departure of Mekies.
According to a famous saying, losing one senior member of staff can be considered a misfortune. To lose two, looks like a pattern.
Even if the two high-profile exits are unrelated, it gives the impression that the team is in a downward spiral. This is the opposite of outfits such as Aston Martin, which are building momentum and recruiting staff to improve themselves.
Vasseur said that Mekies was his future right-hand man only a few weeks back, when the first rumours about his departure began to surface. He could be considered a long-term replacement.
Vasseur responded to questions about Mekies’s future and possible departures in light of the rumors that staff were unhappy: “To have unhappy people, it’s different.” I think it’s normal to be disappointed when you don’t achieve the results you expect, and I am unhappy.
“But most importantly, it is important to work together as a group and as a team to get the best results and to improve. Quitting the company. It’s a different story.
“If you’d like to talk about Laurent, then I don’t really know what happened in the past, but I’ve known him for 25 years. I remember him from his school days.
“I trust him. We have a good collaboration together, and he will become one of the pillars for the future of the business.”
Franz Tost, Team Principal, Scuderia AlphaTauri
Photo by Red Bull Content Pool
It is clear that Mekies’ departure is bad news for Maranello. However, it would be wrong not to see it as a blow to the squad and a sign that they are only going in one direction – down.
Although no one in the team would deny the fact that Mekies’ departure isn’t a good thing, it may be too much to link the Mekies exit to the Sanchez departure. Insiders have said that Sanchez’s departure caused hardly any ripples within the team.
Mekies’ situation was seen differently because he was close to Mattia Binotto and had helped lead the design direction of a car which hasn’t yet matched Red Bull.
Vasseur will now be put to the test as team principal. He must prove that Mekies departure was not a major exodus, but merely a blip.
Vasseur, who was recruited by Ferrari due to his reputation as a tough fighter, will have to rely on these qualities a lot over the next few weeks in order to resolve matters.
It will be crucial for him to use his leadership skills, which he has used in F1 to get everyone pointing in the correct direction.
Vasseur is not losing hope, say those who know him well. They say that Vasseur is energized and ready to take action.
The performance on the track will be crucial. Charles Leclerc’s and Carlos Sainz’s performance will be key to turning the tide for the team.
The SF-23 car is not a bad one. It was close to Red Bull’s qualifying trim and the race pace of Ferrari at the Australian Grand Prix gave some encouragement.
The Prancing Horse needs to do more to prove that Vasseur was right to believe in the car concept and that it is progressing.
If the results are on track, all the noise will disappear.
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