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Ferrari and Red Bull clash over employment of Laurent Mekies

Utkarsh Bhatla

FIA’ s Safety Director and Deputy Race Director, Laurent Mekies, is all set to join Ferrari’s technical department in September, six months after stepping down from his position in the FIA.

Chris Horner had earlier expressed his disapproval of such a small time period between Mekies leaving the FIA and joining Ferrari.

Apparently a Strategy Group meeting had been undertaken where in all teams had agreed to a minimum lapse period of 1 year in what was termed as a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ by Chris Horner.

Arrivabene though defended Ferrari’s move, as it was completely within the laws. He also took a slight jibe at Horner, as the agreement that was agreed upon was confidential and Horner wasn’t actually allowed to talk about it in public.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired.

“And afterwards we went even further than that, because we gave him six months of gardening (leave).

“Having said so, normally what we discussed before the strategy group, we signed a confidentiality agreement, that means that we are not allowed to discuss or to share in public what we discussed there.

“Having said so, I heard comments related to us, supposedly, also called a gentleman’s agreement. I think they are comments because a gentleman’s agreement on libel law is illegal.” he said.

Toto Wolff who was also attending the press conference did not make much of a fuss about the entire employment issue, however, he did point out to that 12 month cooling off period.

“I think the disappointing element about this is that we have a thing called the strategy group where the FIA, FOM and all team principals attended,” Wolff said

“There was an understanding and a clear statement by the teams to say ‘right, let’s have a clear position that there should be at least a period of 12 months in the garden for a member of a team going from either FOM, FIA to a team or a team going 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 and it almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.” he added.

Arrivabene made it clear that he had gotten the entire situation checked by his lawyer.

“We gave a mandate, that’s the main thing, we gave a mandate to the FIA,  to the lawyer of the FIA to check national law and to come back to us in the next strategy group and this is what the FIA is going to do in the next strategy group which is on April 17.” he said.

Horner though was still not convinced one bit with what Arrivabene was dishing out as he said that Marchionne himself was pushing for a 3-year cooling off period.

I think that what’s most disappointing about it was that it was Ferrari or Sergio [Marchionne] who was pushing for a three-year period.

“On one hand you get a team pushing for a three-year gestation and then a few weeks later, we’re in this situation, so as I say, it makes discussions at that forum more or less a waste of time.” he concluded.

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