Report: Mercedes using dirty tactics in bid to convince departing staff to stay and ditch Red Bull

Few weeks after Red Bull announced it had signed Mercedes’ head of mechanical engineering Ben Hodgkinson, the constructor has solidified its raid. It has now been confirmed that five senior Mercedes engine staff have been signed by Red Bull.

Mercedes’ head of manufacturing Steve Blewett is to become Red Bull’s power unit production director.

Omid Mostaghimi, who is Mercedes’ electronics team leader, will be Red Bull’s head of electronics, powertrains and ERS.

Pip Clode, who is Mercedes’ F1 power unit concept team leader, is set to be Red Bull’s head of mechanical design ERS.

Anton Mayo, Mercedes engineering team leader, will assume the role of power unit design ICE.

Lastly, Steve Brodie, Mercedes’ trackside and final inspection manager will take up the mantle of Red Bull’s Group Leader of ICE Operations, completing the mass exodus of personnel from Mercedes to their title rivals.

In addition, Red Bull has announced they will soon appoint a new Head of Mechanical development, and the name will be dropped in a few weeks.

Team Principal and Powertrains CEO Christian Hormer said, “Red Bull’s mission to bring all aspects of its Formula 1 operations in-house through Red Bull Powertrains is an enormously exciting undertaking, but also an extremely demanding one, and 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.”

“Today’s key leadership team appointments demonstrate our strong commitment to those goals and we certainly benefit from our campus being located in the UK where we have access to a huge wealth of engineering talent.

Speaking about new acquisition Hodgkinson, he said, “Working with our new technical director, Ben Hodgkinson, and alongside key personnel retained from Honda Racing Development, each of the senior personnel announced today bring a wealth of experience, expertise and innovation to the Red Bull Powertrains programme and provide us with the strongest possible technical platform for the future.”

Making the case to stay

Mercedes will most certainly have huge voids to fill in their ranks, but team boss Toto Wolff said he was not worried about needing to increase wages to convince the wantaways to stay.

“We will lose some, we will win some,” Wolff said. “But at the end of the day, I believe in the philosophy of Mercedes, and I believe that we are a really good employer.

“It’s a place where there’s high pressure, but there’s also a lot of fun. We can be proud of that and we have to rely on that. There will always be a back and forth. But let’s put it this way, I understand where Christian is coming from, he wants to build a structure and that’s where you have to write a big cheque sometimes. But that’s okay.”

This seems in sync with Helmut Marko claiming Mercedes are desperately offering double salary for departing staff. With Red Bull opening their own Powertrains division from 2022, they have started recruiting staff from their title rivals.

The signing of Hodgkinson was the beginning, and the five aforementioned personnel followed. After serving a period of gardening leave, they are free to join Red Bull. Marko stated the staff joined for a new challenge and out of passion rather than money.

Speaking to Motorsport-Magazin, Marko didn’t shy away from taking a dig at Mercedes, saying, “Red Bull is a passionate racing team. It’s all in one house. Mercedes offers people who come to us double the salary if they stay. We don’t.”

Hormer, meanwhile, weighed up on the advantage of having the Red Bull campus on England. He said, “We certainly benefit from having our campus in England, where we have access to a lot of engineering talent.

“All the senior staff announced bring a lot of experience, expertise and innovation to the Red Bull Powertrains programme and provide us with the best possible engineering platform for the future.”

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