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Formula 1: the new French boss of Racing Bulls reaffirms his “independence” against Red Bull

For the first time in your career, you are taking the reins of an F1 team, in a team that you already know since you held the position of chief engineer at Toro Rosso (which became AlphaTauri then Racing Bulls) until 2014.

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Formula 1: the new French boss of Racing Bulls reaffirms his “independence” against Red Bull

For the first time in your career, you are taking the reins of an F1 team, in a team that you already know since you held the position of chief engineer at Toro Rosso (which became AlphaTauri then Racing Bulls) until 2014. What has changed since you left?Laurent Mekies: In ten years, the company has doubled in size, which also gives an idea of ​​the level of competitiveness of F1 which has increased exponentially. What was a small team at the time, has become a medium-sized team, and from an average size, it has become a top team. Today, we have a larger size than the top teams of ten or fifteen years ago.

What are your goals for this season? Go racing in the competitive part of the “midfield” (the mid-table teams, editor’s note), – but not necessarily this year. We want to build what is necessary to have a team capable, in a sustainable manner, of evolving at the top of this “midfield”. For this, we have carried out various recruitments, it is an extraordinary opportunity for the team to have the support of our partners to be able to invest and become more independent and even more competitive.

Investments precisely, the Visa and CashApp groups have become your two main sponsors this year. What does this change? Concretely, it changes our level of investment to be able to achieve more ambitious objectives. We can recruit, create the bases we need to play with teams that are bigger than us today.

Your links with Red Bull, with whom you have an important rapprochement this year, are seen by some as a lack of fairness. What do you say to that? We respect the regulations 100%. If anyone has any doubts about this, let them explain their doubts. The FIA ​​will carry out an investigation and propose the results. Red Bull has had two teams in F1 for 20 years. The rules are extremely clear on what a team can and cannot share with another team. We remain a sport where it is very difficult to copy others' cars, so sharing an engine, a gearbox, or a suspension does not allow - unfortunately for us - to have the level of performance of the team that gives us these elements. Otherwise it would be too easy. It's a fear in virtual reality because we have ten years of history which shows that it has never miraculously allowed a team to make a leap in performance (AlphaTauri finished 8th out of 10 in the championship in 2023, editor's note). If we want to make this leap, that’s not what it’s going to happen through. It is through investments, recruitment, strengthening, organizing the team in a sustainable way...

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, recognizes that you are acting in accordance with the regulations but points out, among other things, the political – and even potentially sporting – advantages of having two teams collaborating...It doesn't change anything, nor the work we do. must do to become more competitive - hence the strengthening of the team which becomes more independent every day - nor in our freedom and duty to fight with the nine other teams on the track (...). We buy certain components from Red Bull but we remain independent competitors.

Christian Horner, the boss of Red Bull, is currently the target of an internal investigation for “inappropriate behavior” towards an employee? Do you support it? We are all asking for an investigation that is “fair” and transparent. And if possible quickly. We must also remember the presumption of innocence. Red Bull is a company that we are confident will do things fairly and transparently. During this investigation, let us leave the presumption of innocence where it belongs.

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