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Ferrari and Red Bull F1 teams in war of words over ex-FIA signing

Formula 1 team bosses Maurizio Arrivabene and Christian Horner have clashed over FIA man Laurent Mekies' move to Ferrari

Red Bull team principal Horner had already told Autosport Ferrari hiring Mekies contravened a Strategy Group gentleman's agreement regarding FIA personnel, following the controversy over Marcin Budkowski's move to Renault.

Horner and McLaren's Eric Boullier suggested teams had agreed to respect a 'gardening leave' of 12 months for former FIA or F1 employees, but Mekies - who is still employed by the FIA but has been taken off F1 duties - will start at Ferrari just six months after his move was made public.

Arrivabene denied Ferrari had broken an agreement.

"There was nothing wrong, we were respecting absolutely the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired," said Arrivabene.

"And afterwards we went even further, to have six months of gardening leave."

He insisted that the Strategy Group's conclusion had been to await an FIA legal department verdict on the employment law implications at the next meeting in April.

"I heard comments related to a supposed or so-called gentleman's agreement," said Arrivabene. "A gentleman's agreement under labour law, is illegal."

Horner, who shared the FIA press conference stage in Melbourne with Arrivabene and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, remained adamant that Ferrari was in the wrong.

He said the "great unrest" about Budkowski's Renault role prompted a consensus that "every team found it unacceptable" for FIA personnel to move straight to teams.

Horner acknowledged Arrivabene's employment law point, saying "all the lawyers in the world couldn't come up with a contract that could police it", but added: "there was an understanding and a clear statement by the teams to say, 'let's have a clear position that there should be at least a period of 12 months in the garden for someone going from either FOM or FIA to a team or vice versa.'

"Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years. But in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months.

"What's disappointing is that that meeting was less than six weeks ago. Arguably, discussions were probably happening at that time.

"It also makes those meetings pointless if we can't agree on something and action it.

"Of course, you can hide behind 'It's not in the regulations' but as a group we agreed something, it hasn't been adhered to, and one questions the point of having those meetings.

"What's most disappointing about it is that it was Ferrari or Sergio [Marchionne] that was pushing for a three-year period.

"You get a team pushing for a three-year gestation, and a few weeks later, we're in this situation."

Wolff stayed out of the controversy.

"For me the situation is completely different to Marcin," he said.

"Both intelligent engineers, but Marcin was involved in issuing technical directives, just a few weeks before he decided to join a team, and had a lot of insight.

"Laurent was involved in totally different activities which were not as sensitive, in my opinion, as Marcin's."

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