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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Sainz defends Ferrari F1 structure after after Mekies departure

The Ferrari Formula 1 team’s management structure is not “light” following another high-profile departure but is instead restructuring ahead of “tougher challenges”, reckons Carlos Sainz.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

On Thursday ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari announced its sporting director Laurent Mekies – who has been at the team since 2018 – has now officially left the Scuderia.

He is on gardening leave until 1 January, when he will replace Franz Tost as the team principal of AlphaTauri. Mekies's role has been taken at Ferrari by Maranello veteran Diego Ioverno.

Mekies leaving follows Ferrari losing its head of vehicle concept David Sanchez to McLaren, while it still has yet to sign a technical director after the winter exit of ex-team boss Mattia Binotto, who occupied a joint role.

Although Ferrari has poached Mercedes performance director Loic Serra, he will not join until 2025.

Asked by Autosport if he now felt as though the Ferrari leadership structure was lacking, Sainz defended a set-up he was “100% sure” of under the direction of new boss Fred Vasseur.

The Spaniard said: “I'm 100% sure that the structure we have now is also working well for the development of next year's car. I don't feel at all like it's light.

“I also feel like Fred is doing the best he can do to reinforce the team. But also, the people we have also have very clear targets in mind.

“The car is being developed nicely in the wind tunnel and I don't feel light at all.”

Sainz added that even if the team was short of leaders, now would be an ideal time to undergo a turnover given a drop off in form for 2023 ahead of “tougher challenges”.

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

He continued: “If anything, I'd rather have a lighter a year now and know that we are not really fighting for a world championship and make sure we are restructuring, we are recruiting and we are strong for when the tougher challenges come hopefully in the near future.”

Sainz added that he was not concerned specifically by the exit of Mekies to AlphaTauri but stressed that he had enjoyed a healthy relationship with the sporting director.

He also praised Mekies and Ioverno for overseeing such a ‘smooth’ transition.

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He said: “He obviously was a very important figure in Ferrari the last few years and he's been a huge contributor to the team.

“Honestly, I had a really good relationship with him and he was very proactive and very good to the team in general.

“I think we were all very appreciative and that's probably why he's going to a team principal role in another team because he was doing a good job for us.

“But the transition has been done already. He's been very helpful also in helping Diego to learn.

“He's relearned the job that he was doing and I'm not concerned at all with the transition period because it's already been smoothened out.”

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