Red Bull poaches Mercedes engine guru for 2022
Red Bull has poached directly from Mercedes to fill its new technical director role for its powertrains division
Red Bull has confirmed it has signed Ben Hodgkinson as its new technical director of the team’s powertrains division and he will be able to start in 2022.
Mercedes and Red Bull released a statement stating that an agreement had been reached to allow Hodgkinson to start at Red Bull’s new engine division this season rather than fulfil a period of ‘gardening leave’ before taking up his new position.
“Mercedes F1 and Red Bull F1 today reached an agreement regarding the appointment of Ben Hodgkinson,” an identical statement from both teams said.
“Under the terms of that agreement, Ben, who joined Mercedes in August 2001, will be free to join Red Bull Powertrains from 24 May 2022.”
After Honda announced it was withdrawing from the sport at the end of the 2021 season, Red Bull struck a deal to continue the development of the engine in-house and formed its own engine group.
Hodgkinson served as head of mechanical engineering at Mercedes’s High-Performance Powertrains group and had been with the team for 20 years.
“We are delighted to welcome Ben to Red Bull Powertrains as Technical Director,” team principal Christian Horner said of the announcement in 2021.
“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 One 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.”
Honda brought forward its development plans and upgrades by a season to ensure it left Red Bull in the strongest possible position ahead of its F1 departure.
The Japanese manufacturer has developed a power unit that now appears to be on par with the championship-winning Mercedes unit, and could well be the first Red Bull car capable of challenging for a title since 2013.
“I’m extremely excited to be joining Red Bull Powertrains as Technical Director,” Hodgkinson said.
“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.”