Ferrari's handling of hiring FIA man Mekies 'wrong' - Red Bull

Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner says the situation surrounding Ferrari's swoop for FIA safety chief Laurent Mekies is "wrong"

Ferrari's handling of hiring FIA man Mekies 'wrong' - Red Bull

Ferrari's signing of Mekies caused controversy last week when it emerged that he would be joining the Italian outfit in September - just six months on from handing in his notice.

This contradicts what other teams believe was a gentleman's agreement made at the last Strategy Group meeting for teams not to employ FIA personnel unless they had had a 12-month period of gardening leave.

Although Ferrari sources have denied any such agreement was made, Horner is adamant that those in the meeting knew exactly what the situation was.

"It was quite clear - that with the FIA, FOM or vice versa from a team - there would be a 12 month grace period," Horner told Autosport.

"I even made comments that it should be accompanied with a million-dollar donation to the FIA Road Safety Foundation - which the president [Jean Todt] was particularly receptive to.

"So what is disappointing is that within six weeks of that meeting, here we are with an individual that will be going with a huge amount of knowledge and know how.

"Only last November/December, our technical staff are sitting in meetings discussing with him suspension systems, etc, and that is his value.

"And it is wrong - because you place trust in these officials, rightly so, because they are the governing body. It is wrong then for that to end up at a competitor.

"OK he is good at his job but his value is enhanced by the fact that he knows privileged information, which isn't illegal for him to take there as long as he hasn't got drawings or data, which I doubt very much that he has.

"But he still has the knowhow in his head and that is something... it is not what we agreed."

Pushed on Ferrari's claims that there was no agreement in place, Horner responded: "We were in the room. And the gentlemen that agreed it know about it."

Budkowski controversy

This Strategy Group agreement hoped to prevent a repeat of the furore Renault caused when it signed former FIA technical delegate Marcin Budkowski, prompting fears of him taking teams' secrets with him.

Renault accepted the situation and delayed Budkowski's arrival at its F1 operation until he had been out of the FIA for six months.

Although some have suggested that something more than a gentleman's agreement over the matter should have been in place, Horner says anything more formal would have been hard to implement because of employment laws.

"It is tremendously disappointing because we agreed only a couple of months ago in a meeting that employment law is something very difficult to control - particularly across countries with different legislations and employment rules," said Horner.

"Nobody was happy with what happened with Budkowski, but Renault did the right thing and managed to dilute that by saying he will not start for whatever period of time it was.

"What was particularly disappointing was that Ferrari were the most vociferous and wanted a three-year gardening leave period.

"So to go from three years to a few months it is not what was agreed at all. I am sure it will go on the agenda for the next meeting."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing
Author Jonathan Noble
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