They say everything is fair in love and war, and luring staff from your rival Formula 1 team’s development department to power units is likely to fall into the latter category. Red Bull had already announced in April that they had chosen Mercedes’ former head of mechanical engineering, Ben Hodgkinson, as its new technical director. Now, five more new hires have arrived, and you would not know that they are all faces that Hodgkinson is likely to recognize around the office.
The news was broken earlier this morning Motorsport.com:
Mercedes’ production manager Steve Blewett becomes Red Bull’s production director for power units.
Omid Mostaghimi, Mercedes’ F1 electronics team leader, will be Red Bull’s leader in powertrains, electronics and ERS.
Pip Clode, who is Mercedes’ F1 power unit concept team leader, will be Red Bulls leader of mechanical design ERS.
Anton Mayo, a leader of the Mercedes engineering team, will be the head of design for the ICE unit, while Steve Brodie, Mercedes’ F1 pioneering and final head of inspection, will be Red Bull’s group leader ICE Operations.
Red Bull brings together the best brains in the industry to develop its own power unit to be used from 2025 onwards. Honda, which currently designs the engines of Red Bull and AlphaTauris F1 cars, will drop out of the sport by the end of this season. From the start of 2022 to the beginning of 2025, there will be a freeze on the development of power units; teams will not be able to update their hardware in the last years of the current one formula before the major regulatory change.
It gives Red Bull some breathing space as it inherits Honda’s engineering work and some of its staff – in addition to the great minds of Mercedes.
Last week, Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport reported that Hodgkinson was trying to convince a couple of Mercedes employees to accompany him to the Austrian team, causing “alarm” over the reigning champion constructor. Mercedes has had the best possible engine on the web ever since Ferrari was quietly punished for its 2019 fuel power violations, and what staff have learned since then, they will now pass on to Red Bull’s research and development.
And Red Bull could possibly get even more support from a major producer – something Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff cunningly suggested during an interview before last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix (with Red Bulls Christian Horner in the room!). From Ars Technica:
“I think the right strategic steps are, as far as I can see, set in motion by Red Bull,” Wolff said. “I think they go dual-track with their own power unit and maybe with a new OEM that joins, and that’s certainly intelligent, and the arrangement found with Honda in transmitting IP is also smart.
Word on the street is that OEM Wolff is referring to is Porsche, which has surprisingly been active in drafting engine regulations in 2025 despite not being officially involved in Formula 1. In March, it was reported that Porsche went up to get into the sport, maybe as a complete constructor or maybe just as a powerhouse partner for a team like Red Bull. Hopefully we do not have to wait much longer to find out – the rumors and intrigue reach critical mass.