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Laurent Mekies

Becoming a Team Principal wasn't the 'dream' – Mekies

RB Team Principal Laurent Mekies has admitted that becoming the boss of a side was never actually his "dream", with that having been becoming a race engineer.

Mekies Bayer RB Launch
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Mekies was a race engineer for Minardi almost at the start of his F1 career in 2002, after switching from Arrows, who he spent the 2001 season with.

Fast-forward to 2024, and Mekies has taken over from the experienced Franz Tost as RB's team boss, with his introduction almost being part of the huge rebranding from AlphaTauri.

The Frenchman was signed by Red Bull's sister team from Ferrari, having most recently been the Maranello-based side's Deputy Team Principal and Racing Director. He left Ferrari and entered a period of gardening leave after the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, ahead of taking up his current position.

It's not actually the 46-year-old's first time working for RB, as he was still at Minardi back in 2005 when they were acquired by Red Bull and subsequently renamed Toro Rosso – RB's original name.

Following the takeover, Mekies became Toro Rosso's Chief Engineer. He remained with the side for several years, before he finally departed in 2014 to become the FIA's Safety Director.

So, whilst being a Team Principal is a role Mekies has never held and perhaps never envisaged holding, he's at least doing so in familiar territory to him.

He's already completed the first task as a team boss, which was to be part of the 2024 car reveal, an event which took place in Las Vegas very late on Thursday evening local time.

2024 will be a year of exploration for Mekies, but he's pleased to be surrounded by so many incredible people.

Mekies feeling 'very lucky'

"No, you know, you don't dream about becoming a team boss at first," Mekies exclusively told RacingNews365.

"At first, I still think that being a race engineer is the best job in the world. So that was probably the dream job and only that one. And then more seriously, no, you know, it's about meeting incredible people, bosses, colleagues, and it is them that effectively are giving you the chance, the opportunity to develop, to learn to grow.

"And if you look back, you only think about the number of people that have made you learn in these years, made you grow, direct you consciously or unconsciously.

"It's a people's business, and we are very lucky to be in an environment where the quality of the people is so high, where there is such a high concentration of skills and experience."

In terms of management style, Mekies is wanting to ensure that what he does allows the team to perform at their very best, both individually and as a unit. Putting the people first is absolutely at the top of his list.

"Of course, it's a project where we put the people at the heart of what we are trying to achieve," added Mekies.

"We think it's about people, and it's about culture, and we try to make sure that our people are in an environment in which they can express themselves at best, in which they can be as competitive as they want to be, because we are all very competitive people.

"The rest is a consequence, you know, the structure of the organisation is a consequence of the people you have, and of the culture you have managed to set with them."

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