Motor racing: Red Bull hire more engine experts from F1 rivals Mercedes

Red Bull engineers work on Max Verstappen's car before the Steiermark Grand Prix in July 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Red Bull have hired another group of engine experts from Formula One rivals Mercedes as they prepare to build their own power unit after Honda's departure at the end of the season.

The team last month announced Ben Hodgkinson, head of mechanical engineering at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP), had been hired as technical director of Red Bull Powertrains.

On Thursday (May 6), they announced five further appointments to key roles, all from Mercedes. No starting dates were given and all are likely to have a long period of "gardening leave" before joining.

Red Bull also said a new head of mechanical development would be revealed soon.

"We know that success will only be achieved by bringing in the best and brightest talent, by providing them with the right tools and by creating the right environment in which they can thrive," said team boss Christian Horner.

"Each of the senior personnel announced today bring a wealth of experience, expertise and innovativity to the Red Bull Powertrains programme and provide us with the strongest possible technical platform for the future."

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff, whose team have dominated the V6 turbo hybrid era since 2014, recognised last week that a number of staff would be leaving the Brixworth factory and moving to Milton Keynes.

"It's clear that they (Red Bull) are going to hire English engineers because it's in the United Kingdom and there are not a lot of companies that can probably provide those engineers," said the Austrian.

"So absolutely understood what the strategy is."

Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton, whose closest title rival is Red Bull's Max Verstappen, played down the departures when asked whether the team could be unsettled by them.

"There is obviously all of this stuff going on in the background," said the Briton. "Toto will be working to manage it in the best way possible.

"Every individual that's in our team is amazing and it's not a surprise that everybody will want them... I wish them all the best. We all have to go through our own journeys and make our own decisions.

"But this is a huge team and it's not about one individual, or even five."

Mercedes are leading both championships after three races, with seven times world champion Hamilton eight points clear of Verstappen.

The next race is in Spain this weekend.

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