Former-FIA safety director Laurent Mekies will lead Ferrari’s technical department in 2019, according to German newspaper Auto Bild.
Mekies will take over from Mattia Binotto, who was promoted to Team Principal last week in the wake of Maurizio Arrivabene’s departure from the team.
Auto Bild, a respected and reliable German newspaper, reported Mekies new position in their story confirming Binotto’s move to the Team Principal role.
Mattia Binotto directly appointed Mekies to the role, according to Auto Bild.
The German paper has broken some of Formula 1’s biggest stories in recent times, including Honda’s divorce from McLaren and Red Bull’s subsequent partnership with the Japanese manufacturer.
So, what’s the importance?
Laurent Mekies caused a stir in the paddock when Ferrari hired him in March 2018, and it remains to be seen if teams will protest his appointment to technical chief.
Other Formula 1 teams, namely Red Bull and McLaren, accused Ferrari of breaking a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that said ex-FIA staff would serve 12 months of gardening leave.
Ferrari initially said Mekies would start his unspecified technical role with the team in September, just six months on from his FIA departure.
“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” Maurizio Arrivavene said of the issue during Australia’s Friday press conference in 2018.
However, during the same press conference, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said there was a clear understanding between teams that FIA staff would need to take a minimum of 12 months gardening leave.
Horner said some teams – including Ferrari – wanted the gardening leave period to be three years.
Mekies was first spotted in Ferrari colors at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, eight months after Ferrari hired him.
If Auto Bild’s reports are correct, then Mekies will start his role as technical director just 12 months after he was first hired by Ferrari.