Red Bull explain ‘exciting’ engine hire of Mercedes’ Ben Hodgkinson – but rule out move for Andy Cowell

Christian Horner has told Sky Sports that he was “delighted” to lure Ben Hodgkinson away from rivals Mercedes, but says Andy Cowell – who left the F1 world champions earlier this year – is unlikely to be joining Red Bull’s “tremendously exciting” engine project.

Red Bull made a big statement last Friday when they announced the hiring of Hodgkinson as technical director for their new engine programme, given his two-decades worth of experience for Mercedes’ Powertrains division.

In an interview with Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater from Red Bull’s base at Milton Keynes, where their own engine division is under construction as the team prepare for life post-Honda, Horner said Hodgkinson was an “obvious candidate” due to Mercedes’ recent F1 success.

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“Obviously Mercedes have done such a wonderful job, not just the last seven years with the hybrid era but also the years before that with the V8 [engines],” the Red Bull team boss said.

“Of course you do your due diligence, you look around at what is the talent, we have so much of that here based in the UK and Ben’s name absolutely came to the fore.

“He was an obvious candidate for us, and I was absolutely delighted when he agreed to join the team for this exciting new chapter in Red Bull’s history in Formula 1.”

Hodgkinson will join Red Bull once the terms of his current contract as HPP’s head of mechanical engineering are fulfilled, and Horner admitted the team remain on the “recruitment drive” for one of the “most exciting engineering ventures in the last 50 years”.

But he distanced his team from a move for Andy Cowell, the man who headed up Mercedes’ world-beating engine project but left in January 2021.

There had been obvious links to Red Bull due to the team confirming the creation of their own engine department in preparation for Honda’s exit at the end of the season.

“Andy is a tremendously talented engineer, I think everything he’s achieved in Formula 1 speaks for itself,” stated Horner of the man who helped Mercedes embark on an unprecedented streak of dominance in the hybrid era.

“But Andy is keen to pursue other activities, other ventures. Obviously that’s his priority at this point in time.

“But we’re attracting some great talent and looking forward to making some announcements in due course as we build this venture.”

Horner reiterated that the new engine division is “probably the biggest investment Red Bull have made in Formula 1 since acquiring the team from Jaguar back in 2004”, with the team particularly focusing on the new engines post-2025.

“It’s tremendously exciting for us,” said Horner. “Here, we’ve created a campus and the latest addition to this campus is going to be bringing the engine business in-house here in Milton Keynes, building a brand new bespoke facility to house some of the best engineering talent in the business with a key focus on the future regulations.

“It gives a chance to fully integrate the powertrain into the chassis side of the business as well. Other than Ferrari, the only team to have engine and chassis all produced, manufactured, designed under one roof.”

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