Red Bull hire Ben Hodgkinson from Mercedes to lead new powertrains division in sign of 'long-term intent'
Long-time Mercedes man Ben Hodgkinson to join Red Bull to head up the Milton Keynes outfit's new powertrain division, as they ramp up capabilities to become engine providers too beyond Honda's F1 exit at the end of this year
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 24/04/21 10:30am
Red Bull have hired Ben Hodgkinson from rivals Mercedes to be the technical director of their all-new engine division.
Red Bull say Hodgkinson, who has worked for Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth for two decades and has most recently held the position of head of mechanical engineering at the multiple world champions, will join them once the terms of his current contract are fulfilled.
In what they have described as the company's "single largest investment in F1" since launching their own team in 2005, Red Bull are creating their own engine department for the first time as they prepare to take over Honda's power unit when the Japanese firm leave F1 at the end of this season.
A new Red Bull Powertrains division is currently under construction at their Milton Keynes base.
Red Bull say Hodgkinson's key focus will be developing Red Bull's first power unit for when the next generation of engines are introduced into F1 in 2025.
"We are delighted to welcome Ben to Red Bull Powertrains as technical director," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
"He comes to this hugely exciting project as a proven race winner and as an innovator capable of leading a like-minded team of highly skilled engineers.
"When Red Bull announced the creation of Red Bull Powertrains it was also announcing a new phase of the company's ambition in Formula 1 - to bring every aspect of car design in-house and to put our destiny in our own hands.
"The ultimate expression of that is the development of a Red Bull power unit to meet the next generation of Formula 1 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."
Although Red Bull had downplayed speculation they might attempt to lure the former overall head of Mercedes' world-beating engine project, Andy Cowell, to head up their new division, the capture of Hodgkinson is in itself a significant first key hire for their engine project.
"I'm extremely excited to be joining Red Bull Powertrains as technical director," said Hodgkinson.
"It was not easy to make the decision to leave HPP after almost 20 years but the opportunity to take on such a far-reaching and important project is a great honour.
"Red Bull is a serious player in Formula 1 and have been our biggest rival in the hybrid era, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together in this new phase of the company's journey."
Mercedes and Red Bull are almost neck-and-neck in the nascent standings of this year's world championship. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton leads Red Bull's Max Verstappen by a single point after two races, while the reigning seven-time constructors' champions hold a seven-point lead over their long-time rivals.