Mercedes heartache worsens as Red Bull steal former Lewis Hamilton race engineer

Sebastian Vettel to retire from F1 at end of season

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After denying the Silver Arrows a first win of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull have dealt Mercedes another blow as they have appeared to secure the services of Lewis Hamilton’s former race engineer. The news comes after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen once again stood atop the podium after fighting back from 10th on the grid to win at the Hungaroring. 

Red Bull have been investing and developing its Powertrains division ahead of a partnership with Porsche as the German manufacturers are set to join Formula 1 ahead of the new power unit era from 2026. As a result, the Milton Keynes-based outfit have been on a strong recruitment push to hire the best staff possible – and they have lured a number of key figures from Mercedes. 

Over the last year, Red Bull have already acquired new technical director Ben Hodgkinson from the octuple world champions. Hodgkinson had been head of mechanical engineering at Mercedes’ High Performance Powertrains since 2017 after spending 20 years at the company.

It now appears that veteran F1 mind Phil Prew has agreed to join Red Bull and take a senior role within its powertrains project. He was most recently chief engineer at Mercedes’ engine division.

No official announcement has been made about a start date just yet. As he was such a senior figure at Mercedes, it is likely that Prew will have to take a period of gardening leave before being able to begin his employment in Christian Horner’s team.

Prew has enjoyed a lengthy career in F1 – he spent 25 years at McLaren before he joined Mercedes powertrains in January 2016. He joined McLaren as a vehicle dynamics engineer in 1997 and rose through the ranks to become race engineer, principal race engineer, and then chief engineer from the start of 2013. 

The Brit worked with Hamilton as the racer dramatically clinched his first world title in 2008 after previously working with David Coulthard and Juan Pablo Montoya. Prew’s move to Red Bull comes amid news the operation’s powertrains factory is now completed. 

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Speaking at the Hungarian Grand Prix, team principal Horner had hinted at fresh signings for Red Bull’s engine project. He said: “Powertrains is going from strength to strength.

“We’ve taken on further appointments and recruits, which will be announced shortly and that’s exciting for the project. I think that things are really taking shape. 

“You can see in Milton Keynes we’ve gone from being a few units on an industrial estate to being a technology campus. The investment by the group has been significant.

“The first engine is due to fire up shortly. It’s been a steep learning curve, but we’ve recruited some phenomenal talent.”

The 22-race F1 2022 campaign continues with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on August 28 after the four-week summer break. 

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