Laurent Mekies will replace Franz Tost as head of AlphaTauri
This week, the press office of the Italian, Red Bull affiliated team announced that the first and currently only team principal Franz Tost, who has been responsible for the team since its inception in 2006, is retiring after the end of the 2023 season. Who will replace him and what will happen to Alfa Tauri in the future?
Franz joined the team in 2006 as manager and has worked for the team for 18 years since then, even leading Alpha Tauri/Torro Rosso to two wins with Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly. He turned 67 on January 20, around the same time he announced that by his 70th birthday he would be happy to end his career and return to Austria.
“I don't know when I will end my career, but I can say with 100% certainty that I will not be on the command bridge at 70. I'll be gone before I'm that old. I'm going back to Austria and I can finally ski again. I haven't skied in three years, simply because I don't have the time. What is the best time to ski? In February and March, but during these months I'm working - building a car, presenting it, testing it and then racing it in Bahrain, Jeddah and Melbourne. I will find something to do after leaving Formula 1. I will certainly not be bored.”
The story has been forgotten, but it emerged not long ago that Laurent Mekies, Ferrari's racing director, has made the final decision to leave the team. He also plans to move from Maranello to Faenza and some speculated that Tost will start gradually handing over his responsibilities to Mekies so that by 2026 he can resign all his duties to him and retire with peace of mind. Funny thing is that in mid-March Vasseur said of Laurent that he was a reliable man for Ferrari.
"I don't know what's happened in the past with Laurent, but I've known Laurent for 25 years or something like that. I trust him. We have a very good collaboration together and he will be one of the pillars of the future of the company.’’
Presumably, the reason for Mekies' departure from Ferrari was a sense of mistrust on the part of management towards the city director. After Binnotto left the post of director, Laurent Mekies was expected to be among the candidates, but the management, without thinking long, made a decision in favor of Frederic Vasseur. The departure of David Sanchez also played a role, as if several executives at the same time it seemed that they have nothing more to do in Ferrari.
Digging into Mekies' biography, you can find out that he started his career at the team that later became Alpha Tauri. Thus, he simply returned "home" with a promotion. At the beginning of the '20s he was racing engineer for Mark Webber, Justin Wilson, Zsolt Baumgartner and Christian Albers at Minardi, and in 2005, after the purchase of the team by Dietrich Mateschitz, he stayed there as chief engineer. After ten years there, he moved to the FIA, where he worked until 2018, when he was invited by Ferrari.
"I am honored 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."
Peter Bayer used to handle single-seater cars at the FIA and now joins Alpha Tauri as chief executive officer. Franz Tost will step down as chief executive at the end of the year, and Alpha Tauri has already shared the responsibilities of Mekies and Bayer in the future. The team said 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."