Ferrari have signed a senior figure from Formula 1’s governing body the FIA to take on a key role in their technical department.
Safety delegate and deputy race director Laurent Mekies will cease his F1 duties immediately, leave the FIA at the end of June and join Ferrari on 20 September.
Ferrari said only that Mekies would “report to technical director Mattia Binotto” and refused to give further information.
It is the second high-profile departure from the FIA to an F1 team within a year.
Former technical chief Marcin Budkowski joined Renault in October and will start an as-yet-undefined senior position with the French team in April.
Budkowski is expected to take on a position just below Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul, who has said his role will be “non-technical” with a “wider management responsibility”.
Budkowski’s departure from the FIA caused huge controversy among the teams because he was privy to all their technical secrets. Renault agreed to a voluntary ‘gardening leave’ period of six months as a matter of good will.
Mekies’ position is less sensitive but his departure remains a blow to the FIA. Among other things, he was centrally involved in the development of the ‘halo’ head-protection device that is being introduced this season.
Budkowski and Mekies had both been lined up as potential successors to FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting, who is 65.
The FIA has recently appointed former Ferrari chief designer Nikolas Tombazis to a new role as head of single-seater technical matters, a role in which he reports to technical director Gilles Simon and works closely with Whiting.