More than a rebrand: Mekies charts fresh course for VCARB


A new era dawns for the Red Bull-owned Faenza-based Formula 1 team formerly known as AlphaTauri.

Now christened Visa Cash App RB – or VCARB – the rebranded squad embarks on a bold new journey under the leadership of seasoned motorsport figures Laurent Mekies and Peter Bayer, aiming to leave its mark on the competitive grid.

While Bayer is the team’s acting CEO, Mekies, with his extensive experience at the FIA and as Ferrari’s sporting director, steps into the role of team principal, inheriting a rich legacy while carving a path toward fresh horizons.

At the unveiling earlier this week in Las Vegas of VCARB’s 2024 challenger, Mekies shed light on the ethos that defines the rebranded team."

"How often do you tackle a project that is pretty much starting a new team? That's the spirit that is flying around Faenza right now," he proclaimed, highlighting the transformative nature of the undertaking.

VCARB F1 represents more than just a name change; it's a revitalization, building upon the established foundation while injecting a sense of renewal.

But this transformation extends beyond branding. Recognizing the need for efficiency and access to top talent, Mekies outlined a restructuring plan: "We've had two headquarters for a long time – Faenza and Bicester.

“The departments in Bicester (design and aero) will move to new facilities in Milton Keynes."

This bold move challenges traditional team structures, embracing a more geographically flexible environment.

"We want to make our company a location-free company," underscored Mekies, envisioning a future where talent acquisition transcends physical borders.

“If tomorrow a department is split between Faenza and Milton Keynes, we think it’s OK. It is a challenge, but we think it’s carrying a lot with it a lot of advantages, we can hire the best people in the UK and hire the best people in Europe.”

A long-simmering controversy in Formula 1 resurfaced this winter with the rebranded VCARB F1 team: the presence of two Red Bull-owned entities on the grid.

This raises concerns about competitive balance, resource allocation, and the potential exploitation of shared technology regulations.

The regulations allow for "shared technology" components like gearboxes and suspensions, further fueling concerns about a potentially dominant Red Bull camp.

Opponents argue this creates an unfair advantage, granting them access to double the data and development resources compared to other teams.

“The regulations are crystal clear regarding what you need to do yourself and what you can buy,” insisted Mekies.

“Historically, for example, it’s accepted that you are buying your power unit from a third party. Together with the PU, you can buy the gearbox and the suspension. Those are the main items that you can[use] if you decide to do so.

VCARB CEO Peter Bayer and team principal Laurent Mekies

“The regulations make sure you’re doing the rest of the car on your own – your chassis, your aero, your cooling systems, everything that impacts performance – that is something that defines manufacturers and the regulations are very clear.

“We’re in a situation where we have one owner of two teams, and of course, we are being asked – ‘what can we share?’ We should share.

“We are looking at the regulations and doing the sharing we’re able to do. On the side we have in our hand – which is the largest part of the car – we’re pushing as hard as we can to gear up to fight for bigger prizes.

“It also comes with some downside,” he added. “If you take someone else’s gearbox, which a lot of teams are doing, you will have to wait until the team has designed the gearbox to understand where your suspension points will be – which impacts your aero decisions. There are compromises.”

The debate remains as fierce as ever. While some see VCARB F1 as a breeding ground for young talent and a strategic boost for Red Bull, others fear an imbalance of power and potential manipulation of the rules.

As the season unfolds, this controversy will undoubtedly continue to simmer, adding another layer of intrigue to the already volatile world of Formula 1.


Mekies is convinced VCARB will head into “a better place” this season, but the Frenchman expects it will take some time to get there.

“We have developed the car till the last part of the year so the starting point is not very different to what you saw in Abu Dhabi last year,” Mekies explained.

“Together with all the deep changes we are making, we will try and find our new path and development rate, which hopefully will take us to a better place.

“But we are conscious that the early phase of the season will probably be a fairly tough one because of how hard we pushed at the end of last year and how deep the changes are that we made this winter.

“It’s natural this will push the proper development for later in the season. It’s a conscious choice we have made, even if it might hurt in the short term. We’re trying to build a new project and build it for the long run” he concluded.

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