Verstappen: Understandable Mercedes staff want Red Bull challenge

Max Verstappen believes it is "understandable" that the Mercedes staff who have signed to join Red Bull’s new Formula 1 powertrains division are seeking a new challenge.

Verstappen: Understandable Mercedes staff want Red Bull challenge
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Red Bull announced in February that it would be taking over the production of its power units from Honda at the end of the year, moving its engine operations in-house in anticipation of the next rules cycle in 2025.

The team has since been on a hiring spree for its engine division, including the signing of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains head of mechanical engineering Ben Hodgkinson, who will be Red Bull Powertrains' technical director.

Red Bull announced on Thursday that it had signed a further five Mercedes staff members to join its new powertrains division.

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The transfer of staff between the two teams comes against the backdrop of their title fight this year, with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen separated by just eight points in the drivers' standings.

Verstappen said he found the movements "interesting", but that it was "quite normal" for staff to look for fresh challenges after being with one team for such a long time.

"When a team has been so dominant for such a long time, you will try to get those kinds of people," Verstappen said. "But also I think it's an interesting new project to be part of, from our side. When people are in the same place for a long time, I think sometimes they want to seek new challenges.

"I think that's understandable."

Although Red Bull has not ruled out the possibility of working with an external manufacturer when the new power unit regulations begin in 2025, it is currently laying plans to design and produce the power unit itself.

Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner has previously spoken about how it gives the team full control of its destiny, ensuring both the car and power unit are designed under one roof.

Asked if he was excited by what Red Bull's powertrain development meant for the future, Verstappen said it was "great to see".

"Of course we talk about it within the team and it's a very exciting future, where of course I want to want to be part of it," Verstappen said. "We'll see of course where it leads up to."

World champion Hamilton said he was unsurprised rival teams are hiring Mercedes' staff.

"It's not something that I [put much time] particularly towards," he said. "There's obviously all this that's in the background and I think I've got the best ally with Toto [Wolff, Mercedes motorsport boss], who will be working to manage it in the best way possible.

"Without doubt, every individual that's in our team is amazing and it's not a surprise that everybody will want them. We've had a lot of success together.

"If there are people that have moved on, I wish them all the best. We all have to go through our own journeys and make our own decisions, which are right for us. But this is a huge team – it's a big team and it's not about one individual. Or even five. It's about a collective.

"And we've got an amazing collective group of people that still remains solid and focused on winning this championship."

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