Red Bull has approached around 100 Mercedes employees and enticed roughly 15 away as part of its new powertrains project, according to Toto Wolff.
Honda’s departure at the end of this season has prompted Red Bull to set up Red Bull Powertrains to run the Honda IP for the next few years, while also planning to develop its own power unit for the next set of regulations. So far Red Bull has announced the acquisition of six different senior personnel from Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth, and the Mercedes team principal says huge money is being offered to try and attract more.
“I think it’s pretty obvious (what’s happening), if you want to set up an engine factory in the UK there’s only one and that’s us,” Wolff told Sky Sports. “We have 900 or so employees there and if you’re fishing out 15 of these or so, that’s pretty normal.
“They went mainly after manufacturing staff so it’s not really performance — I guess they want to build up the company. Credit to the project, it’s a Mount Everest to climb. I would like to have a fight with Red Bull power units.
“I think they have in all approached 100 people or so and got 15, maybe. Doubling the salary is one thing but if you triple them at a certain stage you’re not going to compete anymore, even for loyal people. It is what it is. I respect everybody that wants to defend his business or build their business. Retaliation time has not yet come.”
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner (pictured at right, above, with Wolff) admits it is obvious his team would need to target Mercedes employees due to their location, but says it won’t just be down to money that personnel opt to make the switch.
“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, and they’ve done that for a reason, because the talent is within the UK,” Horner said. “I think for us, bringing the engines on-site within the campus, fully integrating it with the chassis — so engine and chassis engineers are working side-by-side with each other — is tremendously appealing.
“We’ve been very flattered by the amount of approaches we’ve had, and 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.
“People will want to work where they want to work at the end of the day — you can’t force someone to work where they don’t want to be. 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.”