Mercedes have confirmed an agreement with Red Bull to allow a Power Unit engineer to move from the former to the latter. In a tweet on their official Twitter handle, the team confirmed that engineer Ben Hodgkinson will leave the Silver Arrows to join their direct rivals this year. It reads:
“Mercedes F1 and Red Bull F1 today reached an agreement regarding the appointment of Ben Hodgkinson. 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.”
Hodgkinson had been a Mercedes employee since 2001. He, however, will only be able to join Christian Horner's side after May 24, 2022.
Red Bull pulled off a coup when they approached Hodgkinson in 2021, shortly after acquiring Honda's engine-related intellectual property (IP). The move allowed Red Bull to turn from a customer team into an engine manufacturer. The Milton Keynes-based outfit was, however, deadlocked with Mercedes over his arrival. The issue seems to be resolved now.
At the time of the announcement in 2021, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said:
“We are delighted to welcome Ben to Red Bull Powertrains as Technical Director. 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.”
Red Bull have also reportedly hired almost 500 employees for their new Powertrains division. They will take over from Honda, who will provide support during the transition period.
It remains to be seen how this will impact Toto Wolff's team going into the new season. The mid-season switch is also expected to have brought about a need for Mercedes to shield its own IP from the Red Bull-bound Hodgkinson.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff's actions post 2021 F1 season finale were 'unacceptable', says Martin Brundle
Silver Arrows team principal Toto Wolff's antics post the F1 2021 season finale were 'unacceptable', according to Martin Brundle. Brundle is a former British racing driver who now works as an analyst for Sky F1.
Wolff was in repeated contact with Race Director Michael Masi during the race and had a shouting match with the Australian towards the end of the race.
Brundle spoke on Wolff's behavior during a Sky F1 panel discussion where he said:
“One hundred percent. In the first safety car incident (in Abu Dhabi) when (Antonio) Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo broke down some way from a service road, we had Toto (Wolff) on the radio to Masi saying, ‘Hey Michael, no safety car,’ trying to influence a safety decision. (It is) completely unacceptable and Toto knows that. We can’t have that.”
Brundle went on to add:
“For me, it was one of the most uncomfortable aspects of the season. We saw it in Saudi Arabia, Silverstone, team principals up in the stewards’ office trying to remonstrate with them mid-race. That has got to stop. Can you imagine a [football] manager running on the pitch and remonstrating and telling a referee the decisions he is going to be making next? No, you can’t have that.”
The FIA is reportedly considering severing all communication lines between the team principals and the Race Director for 2022 as a result. Meanwhile, the Silver Arrows plan to unveil their new car for the upcoming season on February 18.
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