On Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull announced that it had poached another five Mercedes power unit staff to bolster its newly-created Red Bull Powertrains division.

The signings add to the capture of former Mercedes High-Performance Powertrains head of mechanical engineering Ben Hodgkinson, who was lured away from the reigning world champion squad to head up the new project in Milton Keynes.

Red Bull will take over Honda’s IP from 2022 once the Japanese manufacturer has departed F1 at the end of the current season, while it will also work on the development of a new power unit at its state-of-the-art facility for 2025 - when new regulations are introduced.

Speaking in the drivers’ press conference, seven-time world champion Hamilton insisted he is confident that the loss of staff will not negatively impact Mercedes’ bid to claim an eighth consecutive world championship double this year.

“There is obviously all this that's going on in the background but I think I've got the best ally with Toto [Wolff] who will be working to manage it in the best way possible,” Hamilton said.

“Without doubt every individual that's with us 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. I think we all have to go through our own journeys and make our own decisions which are right for us.

"But I think 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 remain solid and focused on winning this championship.”

Red Bull’s aggressive recruitment drive has been viewed as an attempt to convince star driver Verstappen that it is the team to be at despite Honda’s impending exit.

The Dutchman acknowledged Red Bull is building a “very exciting future” that he wants to be part of, adding it is “understandable” that Mercedes staff would want to seek a new challenge.

“Of course it's interesting,” he said, “but it's quite normal I think as well, that when a team has been so dominant for such a long time, you will try to get those kinds of people.

“But also I think it's an interesting new project to be a 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 and I think that's understandable.

“It's great to see, and of course we talk about it within the team. It's a very exciting future, that of course I want to be part of and we'll see, of course, where it leads up to.”

 

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