Red Bull have recruited a senior member of the Mercedes team to take charge of their new engine project. The appointment of Ben Hodgkinson is a statement of intent from Red Bull, coming at a time when the two teams are in a fierce battle for the world championship. Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton leads Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by one point after two races.
Hodgkinson will become technical director of Red Bull’s new Powertrains department. He had been head of mechanical engineering at Mercedes High Performance Powertrains, and has worked at the team’s engine department in Brixworth for 20 years. Mercedes have won the last seven drivers’ and constructors’ championships with their engine a key part of that success.
Red Bull currently use Honda engines but the Japanese manufacturer is pulling out of Formula One at the end of this season. Red Bull have bought the intellectual property rights to their engines, which will allow them to take them over and build themselves. They have also established a bespoke engine department with a view to developing their own power unit for the new regulations in 2025, which Hodgkinson will lead. He is contracted to Mercedes until the end of 2022, but it is expected the two teams will come to an arrangement to allow him to leave sooner.
Red Bull enjoyed their greatest success using Renault engines with four drivers’ and constructors’ doubles between 2010 and 2013 but they do not want to use customer engines in future.
“When Red Bull announced the creation of Red Bull Powertrains, it was also announcing a new phase of the company’s ambition in F1 – to bring every aspect of car design in-house and to put our destiny in our own hands,” said the team principal Christian Horner. “The ultimate expression of that is the development of a Red Bull power unit to meet the next generation of F1 engine regulations. Ben’s appointment signals our long-term intent and we will support him and his team with every available resource required in order to succeed.”
Mercedes have yet to comment on Hodgkinson’s appointment.