McLaren has accused Ferrari of breaking a gentleman’s agreement with the signing of the FIA’s safety director Laurent Mekies.
Earlier this week Ferrari confirmed Mekies will join its technical team in September, leaving his role with the FIA in the process. As safety director Mekies oversaw the implementation of the Halo device for this year, while he has also served as deputy to F1 race director Charlie Whiting since the start of 2017. Though he has now stepped down as deputy race director and will not be involved in any F1 matters until his switch to Maranello, he will continue on as safety director until September.
The move follows a controversial episode last year, when the former head of the FIA’s technical department, Marcin Budkowski, was confirmed to be joining Renault. As a key point of contact for all F1 teams in his previous role, he would have gained a detailed knowledge of team’s car plans for 2018.
Rivals were angered that Budkowski was originally slated to serve just three months of gardening leave, meaning he could have started at Enstone on the eve of the upcoming season, although Renault has since agreed to double that time period in order to cool the appease other teams — he will now start in the weekend after the Australian Grand Prix.
F1 teams then agreed that a period of 12 months would be a new appropriate minimum wait for any team wanting to sign a former employee of the FIA or F1 Group. McLaren is furious the FIA has allowed Ferrari to go against this agreement so soon after that agreement was made.
“We very unhappy with the FIA for losing yet another key employee to a racing team,” McLaren racing director Eric Boullier told Motorsport.com.”Especially after it was agreed by all teams at the last Strategy Group meeting that no key technical FIA employees would be employed by a race team within 12 months of leaving the FIA.
“Ferrari went against the gentleman’s agreement, and the FIA has not enforced it.”
Ferrari declined the opportunity to comment on Boullier’s statement when contacted by ESPN.