Laurent Mekies Leaves Ferrari to Become AlphaTauri Team Principal with Franz Tost Stepping Down after 18 years
Franz Tost has been in charge of the F1 team for 18 years but will step down at the end of the year; He will be replaced by Laurent Mekies; The season continues live on Sky Sports F1 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend.
Laurent Mekies is leaving his role as Ferrari sporting director to replace Franz Tost as AlphaTauri team principal.
Tost will step down at the end of the 2023 season – his 18th at the helm of AlphaTauri, the sister team of current world champions Red Bull, having been in charge since the Italian outfit entered the sport as Toro Rosso in 2006.
Mekies becomes the latest high-profile exit from Ferrari as he re-joins the team he served as chief engineer and head of vehicle performance before departing in 2014 to work for the FIA.
As part of a new management structure, former FIA executive Peter Bayer also joins the team as chief executive to “oversee the strategic direction of the team at its facilities in Faenza and in the UK”, while Tost will continue to work with the team in a “consultancy role”.
AlphaTauri said Bayer would join the team “later this year”, while Mekies’ start date has yet to be confirmed, although it is assumed he will be in charge for the start of the 2024 campaign.
The team added that Mekies will be “responsible for the day-to-day operation of the team, including technical, manufacturing, support function and race team operations and in conjunction with Peter’s strategically focussed role, they will create a new and dynamic leadership team with equal responsibility.”
Mekies’ departure from Ferrari comes after the dismissal of former team principal Mattia Binotto at the end of last season, with Frederic Vasseur having joined from Alfa Romeo as his replacement.
Ferrari also recently lost former head of vehicle concept David Sanchez, who has opted to join McLaren in a similar role.
“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,” Mekies said. “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.”
Tost has been a key figure at Red Bull’s junior squad over the last two decades, leading the team to wins in the 2008 Italian Grand Prix as Torro Rosso and again at Monza as AlphaTauri in 2020.
The 67-year-old Austrian has played a crucial role in the development of future world champions Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel, along with race winners Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly.
The team’s founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz, a compatriot of Tost’s, died in October last year, since which there have been reports the team’s parent company could consider selling or moving it’s Italian squad.
Meanwhile, disappointing displays on the track led Tost to openly criticise his engineers ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP in March, as the outspoken figure said that he didn’t “trust them anymore”.
Yuki Tsunoda scored AlphaTauri’s only point of the season at the Australian Grand Prix, leaving them joint bottom of the constructors’ standings alongside Williams.
On his departure, Tost said: “First of all, I would like to thank Dietrich Mateschitz, who gave me the incredible opportunity to be team principal of Scuderia Toro Rosso and Scuderia AlphaTauri for the past 18 years.
“It has been a true privilege to lead the team for such a long period and a great pleasure to work with so many motivated and skilled people, who share my passion for Formula 1.
“With 67 years old it is time to hand over and with Peter as new CEO and Laurent as team principal, we found two very professional people, who will bring the team to the next level. I want to thank everyone for the good cooperation.”
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