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15 staff and an empty factory not enough for Red Bull F1 engine

Red Bull is making an ambitious push with its new powertrains division, as it looks to produce its own engine for new F1 regulations that come into play in the next few years.

The Milton-Keynes based operation has begun work on a state-of-the-art factory on its campus, and has made a big recruitment drive, signing a number of staff from rival Mercedes’ own F1 engine division.

But, while losing personnel to a competitor is not ideal for Mercedes, Wolff is clear that the disruption to his own operation has actually been quite minimal.

Wolff accepts that Red Bull is making a huge investment to ensure it can be competitive, but thinks that the scale of the task facing his competitor should not be underestimated.

He is well aware of the kind of expenditure that the likes of Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari have had to make over the years to get their infrastructure up to the right level – and also how long it takes to do things properly.

In an exclusive interview with the Italian edition of Motorsport.com, Wolff put some perspective on the size of the task that Red Bull faces.

“We have about 900 people working in Brixworth,” said Wolff. “They approached 100, and they got between 10 and 15, mainly manufacturing staff, no performance. And in that respect, if I were to build a new factory, I would also start [like that].

“But between hiring two handful of people and having a full up and running competitive engine factory, there’s quite a long way to go.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“I think Red Bull can do that, with the resource that is being put in, but Mercedes and the others have been in the sport for many decades, building the structure.

“So 15 guys and an empty building site construction is not going to be sufficient in order to be competitive in three years with a new power unit.

“Having said that, we’re taking them very seriously because they are a great team and have the finances to do so. But if we know one thing in Formula 1, it is that it needs time. No money can accelerate the learning curve.”

Wolff said over the Spanish GP weekend that, while several staff had left Mercedes’ HPP engine division, a vast majority had remained loyal despite the big money offers being given by Red Bull.

“Internally it’s quite good to see the really loyal ones, that have been approached, such an overwhelmingly larger number than the ones that were lured away,” he said. “Seeing that loyalty and integrity in a way has confirmed the values of this group.

“There were some really good people that were approached. Lottery number pay cheques. And they haven’t even thought about it twice. They stayed because they like the environment and they like what we stand for.

“It’s a good environment, and we have proven that it is a good environment to work and to prosper. And that is just something that makes me very proud for the organisation in Brixworth.”

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