Red Bull Facing ‘Big Problem’ as Staff Leave for Double Wages
Red Bull Racing, the dominant force in the new ground effects aerodynamic era of Formula 1, is facing a relentless assault on their technical staff, with rival teams offering substantial financial incentives to entice Red Bull personnel to switch allegiances. Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, revealed that rival teams have been offering double the salary to lure their key figures away.
The exodus of talent has already seen Aston Martin secure the services of Red Bull’s former head of aerodynamics, Dan Fallows, while Ferrari has reportedly secured the signature of aerodynamicist David George. McLaren has now joined the ranks of teams poaching Red Bull personnel, with the recent signing of Rob Marshall, who will join McLaren as the technical director of engineering and design in January 2024.
Red Bull’s success and reputation for excellence have made them prime targets for rival teams seeking to strengthen their technical departments. Even high-profile figures like Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s renowned chief technical officer, have been subject to interest from Ferrari and Mercedes. However, Newey opted to stay with Red Bull, signing a new multi-year deal.
Helmut Marko acknowledges the challenge of retaining key personnel, especially in the era of budget caps, which limit the financial resources teams can allocate to staff salaries. Under the current regulations, teams can exempt three key personnel from the budget cap, but all other employees, except for the drivers, fall within its constraints.
Marko recognizes that the sums offered by rival teams are often double what Red Bull pays its personnel, making it difficult for the team to respond with counteroffers. Nevertheless, he believes that the emotional attachment and passion for the team, coupled with the opportunity to work alongside superstar driver Max Verstappen, remain compelling reasons for staff to stay at Red Bull.
“The factor that still keeps us halfway together as a team is the emotion, the passion,” Marko stated. “Of course, it also makes a lot of difference that you have a driver like Max. It radiates, and everyone wants to be a part of this success package.”
Despite the recent departures, Marko expresses hope that the staff exodus will not become a recurring trend. Red Bull has partnerships with universities and invests in training its personnel, allowing them to develop and absorb the loss of key figures.
Rob Marshall, Red Bull’s latest loss, will assume the role of technical director of engineering and design at McLaren in 2024. Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing, expressed gratitude for Marshall’s contributions over the past 17 years and praised his exceptional work on the cars that led to four championship doubles from 2010 to 2013. Horner acknowledged that Marshall’s departure will be a loss for the team but wished him success in his new role.
As Red Bull faces ongoing challenges in retaining their talented technical staff, they will rely on their internal development programs and the allure of their successful racing package to attract and nurture the next generation of engineering talent.