Toto Wolff & Lewis Hamilton along with Christian Horner 7 Max Verstappen reflect on the recent Red Bull poaching from Mercedes HPP.
After Red Bull took in Ben Hodgkinson in the lead role from Mercedes HPP, they announced further people joining in last week – all from Brixworth. More are on their way as the Milton Keynes-based outfit expands itself on the powertrain side from 2025 onward.
For Toto Wolff, it is not a surprise, as such moves are common, especially when both the big shot bases are in United Kingdom itself. In fact, the Mercedes F1 chief noted that they had over 100 requests, but only handful agreed to switch teams.
“It is pretty obvious where the talent would lie for an engine division being established in the UK,” said Wolff on Sky Sports. “If you want to set up an engine factory in the UK, there is only one, and that is us. We have 900 or so employees there, and if we are fishing out 15 of these or so, that’s pretty normal.
“But they went mainly after manufacturing staff, so it’s not really performance. I guess they want to build up the company. But credit to the project, it’s a Mount Everest to climb. I’d like to have a fight with Red Bull power units,” summed up Wolff, who then added that the only thing irked him was Red Bull going after with triple salary proposal.
But for him, he reckons, this move will allow Mercedes to bring up young engineers in the roles, thereby helping them with fresh blood. “Doubling the salaries is one thing, but if you triple them, at a certain stage, you’re not going to compete any more, even for loyal people,” said Wolff. “But it is what it is. I respect everybody that wants to defend his business or build his business, and the retaliation time has not yet come.
“From our side, the game plan hasn’t changed. I think it’s good that we have another possible constructor that comes into the sport, whether it’s Red Bull or any other OEM that could be interested in taking over, and that’s overall positive. I don’t see any negativity there, any negative aspect in the situation.
“It opens up bottlenecks for younger engineers to come up. They have an opportunity now, and changing the organisation has always opportunities. Organisations are dynamic organs and not static. Sometimes you are being pushed in such situations, sometimes you take your own decisions. But overall, you can make it an opportunity rather than a risk,” summed up Wolff.
Talking about the move, Hamilton echoed his bosses sentiments and put his full faith on him to do the best for the F1 team. “There is obviously all this that’s going on in the background, but I think I’ve got the best ally with Toto who will be working to manage it in the best way possible,” he said. “Without doubt every individual that’s with us in our team is amazing and it’s not a surprise that everybody will want them.
“We’ve had a lot of success together. If there are people that have moved on, I wish them all the best. I think we all have to go through our own journeys and make our own decisions which are right for us. But I think this is a huge team, it’s a big team and it’s not about one individual or even five, it’s about a collective, and we’ve got an amazing collective group of people that still remain solid and focused on winning this championship,” summed up Hamilton.
On the other side, Red Bull were happy with the hiring. As Wolff noted, it was known that if the team poaches personnel, it can only be from Mercedes. “I think there is an inevitability that obviously we’re based in the UK, we’re only 30 miles up the road from Brixworth where Mercedes have chosen to build their engines in the UK,” Horner said.
“And they’ve done that for a reason because the talent is within the UK. I think for us bringing the engines on site within the campus, fully integrating it with the chassis is tremendously appealing. We’ve been very flattered by the amount of approaches that we’ve had.
“Of course, we’re starting with a clean sheet of paper and it’s important to get the right people in the right positions. Obviously, we’ve had quite a bit of success in attracting some fantastic talent on top of the talent that we will inherit from Honda when they depart at the end of the year,” summed up Horner, before shrugging off the salary and loyalty aspect.
“At the end of the day, you can’t force someone to work where they don’t want to be. And if we’re an attractive place to be and people see that racing spirit and they want to be part of it, they’re going to come on the journey,” summed up Horner.
Meanwhile, Verstappen added: “Of course it’s interesting, but it’s quite normal I think as well, that when a team has been so dominant for such a long time, you will try to get those kinds of people. But also I think it’s an interesting new project to be a part of from our side.
“When people are in the same place for a long time, I think sometimes they want to seek new challenges and I think that’s understandable. It’s great to see, and of course we talk about it within the team. It’s a very exciting future, that of course I want to be part of and we’ll see, of course, where it leads up to.”
Here’s Red Bull’s new hiring
Here’s Toto Wolff and Christian Horner on hiring, Volkswagen