Horner hits back at Wolff’s ‘lottery number’ jibe

Date published: May 20 2021 - Jon Wilde

Toto Wolff, Mercedes with Christian Horner, Red Bull

Christian Horner insists there is more to Mercedes staff being tempted to join Red Bull Powertrains than the offer of a big pay cheque.

Toto Wolff claimed recently that Red Bull had been throwing around “lottery number” salaries in managing to attract 15 Mercedes employees from their Brixworth HQ out of around 100 they had approached for their new Powertrains project.

But the Red Bull F1 team principal thinks other factors are in play for those who have decided to switch jobs to Milton Keynes, which is only 30 miles south of Brixworth.

“It’s not been about waving cheques in front of them, it’s about the integration, the opportunity to be part of one team rather than just an engine supplier,” Horner told The Race.

“That’s really struck a chord and been a fundamental reason why we’ve managed to attract this talent.

“Formula 1 is a people sport, and at the end of the day you’re as good as your people. We’ll have a great facility but we’ll have even greater people, as part of this project, and that’s what’s tremendously exciting and I think that’s what’s attracting the talent.”

Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen

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Mercedes F1 co-owner and team principal Wolff has downplayed the loss of staff to Red Bull by claiming those who were making the switch were more involved in the production of the engine rather than its performance.

Horner admitted they will not be bringing the most valuable secrets with them to an operation he described as “probably the most exciting engineering business being built in the UK at the moment” following Honda’s decision to withdraw from Formula 1 at the end of this year.

“They won’t be bringing IP with them but they have all been long-timers at HPP and they have produced the benchmark engine over the years,” said Horner of the new recruits.

“That’s fantastic for us. When you’re starting from scratch with a clean sheet of paper, you want to bring in as much talent as you can.

“It’s a different challenge to when I came in on the chassis side because there was the basis of what was obviously Jaguar and it was then a matter of identifying the weaknesses and addressing those, whereas this is a totally clean sheet of paper.

“That, in many respects, is easier because you can create the structure you want and fully integrate it.

“The whole purpose of this is to mesh it with the chassis side and have those synergies and cost savings that go with that – particularly when a budget cap is inevitably likely to come in to the powertrain.”

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