Red Bull’s new Red Bull Powertrains Division has appointed Ben Hodgkinson as technical director. The British engineer was previously head of engineering at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP), which builds the Mercedes F1 engines.
Hodgkinson’s primary focus will be on developing Red Bull’s first non-Honda power unit, which is planned for 2025.
Hodgkinson has been at Mercedes for more than 20 years, dating back to when it teamed with Ilmor Engineering. A graduate of University College in London, he initially worked with the rally tuning firm Mountune, working on Ford’s World Rally Championship engines before moving on to Advanced Engine Research, where he was part of the team that created a turbocharged engine used by MG in the Le Mans 24 Hours. He then moved on to Ilmor, where he designed parts for the Honda Indy Racing League engine before switching to the Formula 1 program, where he worked on the design and development of the internal combustion engine for the current F1 engines.
“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 honor,” he said. “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.”
Red Bull Powertrains is delighted to confirm the appointment of Ben Hodgkinson as Technical Director 👏
Red Bull’s engine program is the biggest investment made by the Austrian drinks firm since it set up the F1 team in 2005. The decision to become an engine manufacturer was made after Honda decided to quit F1 at the end of 2021 and Red Bull found itself without an engine partner. Although it could have forced an existing engine manufacturer to provide engines, this would have been counterproductive because Red Bull’s goal is to win and its weakness has long been that it was at the mercy of its engine suppliers.
The details of the Honda deal are secret, but sources told Autoweek that it gives Red Bull not only independence from having to be a partner or customer, but also more political power within the sport, particularly if there are customer teams beyond AlphaTauri, which might be the case in the future.
However, in the interim the intellectual property acquired from Honda cannot be used in any other way, such as offsetting the costs by selling the knowledge to manufacturers to allow them to build their own eponymous engines. This could be something that McLaren, Aston Martin, and Alfa Romeo might have been interested in.
Red Bull will absorb all of the staff and equipment from the Japanese company’s Milton Keynes operations, and this will be housed in a facility in the Red Bull campus. This means that apart from Ferrari, Red Bull will become the only team in Formula 1 to have everything integrated at the same site.
It is a major undertaking, but it will mean that in the future Red Bull will have a turnkey asset, which could be sold off to any company wanting to be involved in the sport and in the automotive business, if at some point Red Bull wants to exit Grand Prix racing.
By the time the new F1 rules arrive in 2025, Red Bull will be in a position to design, manufacture, and build its own engines, independent of Honda, at which point it may then be in a position to provide engines to other teams—indeed, it could be required to do so. It might also want to sell its intellectual property to an OEM.
The word is that Red Bull will be doing the job properly, as one would expect, and that its new engine division will have as many as six dynos in the facility, which is currently under construction at the heart of the Red Bull Technology Campus in Milton Keynes, England.
“Ben’s appointment signals our long-term intent.”
“We are delighted to welcome Ben to Red Bull Powertrains as technical director,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. “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.”
Source: Read Full Article