Red Bull has raided Formula 1 rivals Mercedes to make the first key appointment of its new Powertrains department.
Red Bull has appointed Ben Hodgkinson as technical director following a long stint in working for Mercedes High Performance Powertrains, most recently as head of engineering.
Hodgkinson will be tasked with focusing on developing Red Bull’s inaugural power unit, to comply with the new F1 regulations currently planned for 2025.
The formation of the powertrain division represents Red Bull’s single largest investment in F1 since the establishment of Red Bull Racing in 2005.
It provides both Red Bull and AlphaTauri with what the teams describe as "sporting autonomy as well as seamless integration of engine and chassis for the first time".
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.
"When Red Bull announced the creation of Red Bull Powertrains it was also announcing a new phase of the company’s ambition in Formula 1 – 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 1 engine regulations.
"Ben’s appointment signals our long-term intent and we will support him and his team with every available resource required in order to succeed.”
Hodgkinson initially spent several years developing race engines for the World Rally Championship and designing turbocharged Le Mans engines before joining Ilmor Racing engines, now known as Mercedes AMG HPP.
After two decades with the business, Hodgkinson said: “I’m extremely excited to be joining Red Bull Powertrains as technical director.
"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.
"Red Bull is a serious player in Formula 1 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.”