‘New battlefield’ opens between Red Bull, Mercedes F1 (Update)

(GMM) Another wave of Mercedes’ engine staff are set to join six of their colleagues in defecting to the new Red Bull Powertrains project.

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko claims Toto Wolff is attempting to stop the defections by offering to double the salaries to Mercedes’ existing staff.

Marko said he would “certainly not” be trying to better those offers.

“I think they approached about a hundred engineers but were able to get only 15 of them,” Mercedes team boss Wolff said in Barcelona.

Red Bull has already announced six forthcoming arrivals from Mercedes as the energy drink owned team takes over Honda’s operations and sets up a new facility at its Milton Keynes base.

“The situation is what it is,” Wolff said.

“I respect anyone who is trying to defend or develop their business, and it is quite obvious that if you want to create an engine-building operation in the UK then there is only one place to go to and that is Mercedes.

“We have about 900 people working for us in Brixworth, and so I think if 15 of them are lured away from us, that’s quite normal,” he added.

“I must admit that Red Bull has taken on a very complex project, which is like climbing Everest. I am looking forward to the start of this new engine war.”

Mercedes F1 engines

While Wolff played down the defection of less than 2 percent of Mercedes’ engine workforce, Red Bull’s Christian Horner said he is “very pleased” with the fruits of the recruitment drive.

“We’re starting from scratch and so it’s very important that we get the right people in the key positions,” he said. “It looks like we’ve managed to attract some very talented people.”

Horner admitted that becoming a Ferrari-like team with chassis and engine operations at a single location is “a little scary”, but he is confident Red Bull can succeed.

“I remember when people said a company that makes an energy drink will not be able to make a chassis,” he smiled. “I believe we have shown that we can cope with that task, and now we’re applying the same approach to making an engine.”

Horner also played down the extra tension caused by poaching Mercedes’ staff, and insisted: “Ultimately, people will decide to work where they want to work.

“The truth is that many people regard our team as an attractive place to work and that’s why they want to join us.”

May 7, 2021 

(GMM) A “new battlefield” has opened up in Mercedes’ championship fight with Red Bull.

After signing up Ben Hodgkinson, the energy drink owned team has now followed that up with five new senior additions to its new engine operations for 2022 and beyond – and all six of them come from Mercedes.

“Red Bull needs people for its project,” Mercedes’ Toto Wolff said. “There aren’t that many companies in England for them to go to so it was to be expected that they would poach people from us.

“This is a new battlefield and a new part of the competition,” he added.

And Mercedes has now opened fire in that new battlefield, according to Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko.

“Red Bull has a passion for racing and the whole team is on the same base,” the Austrian is quoted by motorsport-magazin.com.

“Mercedes is proposing to double the salaries of the employees who are coming to us so that they stay. We do not do this,” Marko insisted.

According to Max Verstappen, the story is not surprising.

“When people are in one place for a long time, I think they want new challenges and that’s understandable,” said the Red Bull driver.

Marko added: “I think it’s normal. If a team has been that dominant for such a long time, of course you will try to get that kind of staff.”

Curiously, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton appears to agree that the saga isn’t such a big deal.

“We are a very, very large team, so not much depends on a single person. Or five people,” he said.

At the same time, the latest developments have only increased the already strong likelihood that Verstappen intends to stay at the championship-contending team.

“We are facing a very exciting future together and I naturally want to be a part of it and see where it goes,” he said.

The engine saga isn’t the only tension between Mercedes and Red Bull at present.

Mercedes wants sporting penalties to apply for future breaches of the new budget cap, but Red Bull and Ferrari are reluctant to agree.

“We want to see the details before we vote,” said Marko.

At the same time, Red Bull is arguing that a new budget cap be brought down on engine costs.

“It should be well below $100 million,” Marko said.

Marko, though, played down the tension that is now spilling over in the Red Bull-Mercedes relationship. At Portimao, Wolff called his fellow Austrian “Mr Grumpy”.

“I let that pass me by,” Marko smiled to Sport1.

“Mercedes and us are on a relatively equal technical level. If we turn to the psychological side now, then I would expect it to be a little more equal in that way too.”

For instance, he called Wolff “very rude” for predicting that the goal of the Red Bull engine program is to team up with Volkswagen.

“He made a very rude remark that we are getting the patent rights from Honda to then pass them to Volkswagen. That is complete nonsense,” said Marko.

“That would be unfair and it is not planned,” he said, whilst admitting that partnerships are nonetheless possible.

As for the personal enmity between himself and Wolff, Marko said: “Sometimes we get the feeling that Toto is too worried about us or about Formula 1 in general.

“It goes without saying that we care about our advantage. The fact that the choice of words between two Austrians is sometimes a bit explosive should be seen as a national matter,” he smiled.