As the world is discussing the Alpine “driver announcement” affair, Red Bull continues it march toward beefing up its own Red Bull Powertrain division by hiring key Mercedes personnel.
An interesting story over at Motorsport from the redoubtable Jonathan Noble says that Red Bull have added:
technical director Ben Hodgkinson, who had been head of mechanical engineering at Mercedes’ High Performance Powertrains since 2017
Highly respected Phil Prew who was Mercedes chief engineer at its power unit division in Brixworth
Thermofluids simulation team leader Nigel McKinley is also expected to move over to Red Bull
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said:
“I’m delighted that Phil is going to be joining the team,” he said. “He has a phenomenal track record, and he has been a key component of Mercedes’ recent success.
“It’s another statement of intent of where we want to be with the power unit. I think that we assembled great strength and depth within the business. It’s fantastic to see it really coming together and coming to life.
“Phil’s one of the few key signings recently that adds to the very talented group of people that we’ve already assembled.”
On one hand, it’s interesting that Red Bull hired these key people from Mercedes but on the other hand, it’s also interesting that these people were willing to leave Mercedes. Money may be a large part of that equation but that’s not always the only factor.
I’m not trying to insinuate anything untoward but I can’t help but think this is going to be difficult for Mercedes. They likely have a very deep bench over there with a lot of very smart people but time will tell how the vacancies might impact them.
Like any company, you have to move on and invest in the people you have and make key hiring decisions and having read their recent sustainability report and DEI statement, perhaps this is a real opportunity for Mercedes to promote some of their diversity hires into key strategic roles that will elevate the team through the program and the benefits it brings.
For Red Bull, it will be interesting to see how these new hires will impact their program for the short term or until Porsche engages for the 2026 campaign. And it might make Porsche happy to have such veteran personnel on staff for the soft landing in F1.