Red Bull hires Mercedes Head of Engineering Ben Hodgkinson to lead new powertrain division

The hiring is the latest move by the Austrian team triggered by engine partner Honda leaving Formula 1

By Yuri Coghe
@yuricoghe
Red Bull’s power unit factory is under construction in England (Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool)

Red Bull have announced Ben Hodgkinson, current Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Head of Engineering, as the new Technical Director of their new powertrains division.

The hiring is the latest and biggest letter of intent from the Austrian team since engine partner Honda announced in late 2020 it was leaving Formula 1, triggering Red Bull to create a powertrain division to handle power units themselves.

Hodgkinson spent two decades working with Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, known as Ilmor Racing engines when he joined, helping create the dominant hybrid power unit that took F1 by storm since 2014.

“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,” said Hodgkinson in a statement.

“Red Bull is a serious player in Formula One 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.”

The powertrain division, which creation represents Red Bull’s largest investment in F1 since joining the series in 2005, will provide engines to Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Other than guaranteeing the team’s autonomy, the investment will see Red Bull being able to integrate both engine and chassis projects for the first time – an advantage rivals Mercedes and Ferrari have for obvious reasons.

“We are delighted to welcome Ben to Red Bull Powertrains as Technical Director,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in a statement. “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 will carry on using the technology of the Japanese manufacturer until 2024, creating their own power unit for the 2025 season when new engine rules are introduced. A state-of-the-art power unit factory is under construction at the Red Bull Technology Campus in Milton Keynes, England.

“When Red Bull announced the creation of Red Bull Powertrains it was also announcing a new phase of the company’s ambition in Formula One – 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,” Horner said.

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