Scuderia Ferrari’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies will take over Mattia Binotto’s role at this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix as the Team Principal is set to follow the weekend from the Maranello factory.
For Ferrari, the Turkish Grand Prix, Round 14 of the 2020 FIA Formula One Championship will be other than the normality the team is used to as Mattia Binotto has decided to stay at the Scuderia’s Maranello-based factory to oversee the current development processes.
In the absence of the Swiss-Italian, the team’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies will take over the responsibilities at the scene while Binotto will stay in touch with the race team from the factory.
„Mattia has always approached his role in an innovative way, trying to think outside the box,” said Mekies. „He has come up with a method of working that gives the flexibility to manage the priorities in the most efficient way possible: he had already adopted this approach when he was technical director and has applied it even more so now as team principal.
„At first it might seem strange not to see him physically in the briefings or on the pit wall, but he will make use of all the current communication technologies so that his voice and input will be loud and clear to everyone, both inside and outside the team!”
While Ferrari is the most successful team with three wins thanks to Felipe Massa, the Scuderia expects this weekend to turn out to be a much more difficult round than the previous events given its layout that puts a bigger emphasis on pure engine power.
“Looking at the track characteristics, it won't be an easy weekend for us,” added Mekies. „Nevertheless, the pecking order behind the top three drivers is always very close as it has been all season and the slightest thing can make the difference between fighting for a place on the second row or not making it to Q2.
„Our main aim is to confirm the small progress we have seen in recent races and if possible, reduce the gap to those ahead of us in the Constructors’ championship.”
Formula One last visited Turkey in 2011 when Sebastian Vettel emerged victorious driving for Red Bull Racing. The Herman Tilke-designed Intercity Istanbul Park is a special place for the German as he made his official F1 debut at this circuit, carrying out driving duties for BMW Sauber.
"I am happy to be going back to Istanbul Park, a circuit that holds many happy memories and some less so. For example, you could say my Formula 1 career began here in 2006, as I made the headlines setting the fastest time in what was my second Friday free practice session appearance with BMW Sauber. And I also won here in 2011, the last time we came to Turkey.
It’s a very interesting track which is very nice to drive. There are several changes of elevation that are much more severe than they appear on television, as well as some very exciting sections. Of course that includes Turn 8 with its three apexes, but actually, from a technical point of view, this track has a bit of everything. And I think that those drivers who have never been here before will also like it right from the start."
As this weekend will be his first time at the Istanbul race track, Charles Leclerc tried to get himself prepared for the challenging layout, using the simulator.
"This will be my first time at Istanbul Park. I’ve watched a few videos of races and I’ve spoken to those who have raced there already and all the comments seem positive.
„I can see the layout is very varied, with gradient changes and some spectacular corners. I am particularly looking forward to experiencing turn 8. It will be interesting to see how the current cars perform there, which will be something new for everyone,” Leclerc concluded.