Two Red Bull staff switch to Mercedes

2013 F1 season

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Red Bull have lost two more members of their technical staff to a rival team.

Mark Ellis and Giles Wood have left to fill newly-created roles at Mercedes. Ellis will become the team’s performance director in June next year, while Wood takes the role of chief engineer, simulation and development

The news follows the prior announcement of two other high-profile departures from the four-times constructors’ champions, including Peter Prodromou to McLaren and Shaun Whitehead to Williams.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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58 comments on “Two Red Bull staff switch to Mercedes”

  1. One of the reasons why most runs of success end after several years is that the guys behind the big guns want to go on and show what they can do, while other teams are always on the hunt to poach people from the most successful team.

    That said, Ferrari managed to keep their good run going for quite a few years, and I think Red Bull has enough good people to fill the ranks fast enough to hold onto their position as well.

    1. Red Bull’s biggest asset is Newey. As long as they’ve got Newey and their budget, they will remain a top team. Losing Newey is like going back 117 steps.

      1. Yea because as everyone know, Red Bull is a three man team. Vettel, Horner and Newey who’s the only one getting the work done in the group.

        1. was that ironic? it sounded ironic. i hope it was.

          1. I think it’s ironic.

      2. Absolutely incorrect. Newey is technical director. Like management in any job, the people below him do the hard work and he gets the credit. He does have input and good knowledge but he designs absolutely zero parts for that car, only signs off on them and maybe has a bit of input to improve…..As I’ve said previously….Rob Marshall and Peter Prodromou are the dream team behind Red Bull and they’ve lost one half of it.

        1. I’d be interested to know how you that as a matter of fact . seeing as Newey still speaks about doing free hand drawings and missed races this year to prepare for 2014. but of course everyone leader needs a good team behind them

          1. The technical and engineering side is something I follow very closely, and theres no doubt Newey is great at what he does. When he says he draws by hand he doesnt actually draw say.. The whole front wing for example. It would go like this….Prodromou and Marshall make their designs. Every single drawing or graphic model then goes to Newey, who has to approve and sign it off for production. This is where Newey draws any alterations in his case by hand.

            Hope I gave you an idea of how it works, id try and be more thorough but im typing this on the way to a funeral

          2. Thanks that was a good explanation, but i just find it hard to believe that there wouldnt be single part he designed or concept he came up with then delegated to those below him to execute the idea. There are probably even designers working under Prodromou and Marshall which makes things even more complicated i guess.

          3. Indeed, Newey often talks in interviews about how he keeps notepads with him all the time, because solutions to problems come to him randomly in the shower, in bed, etc. This suggests he is still coming up with fundamental ideas that Marshall and Prodromu then have to work up in detail. Losing Prodromu will certainly be felt, but it’s not as though Newey can’t bring another smart aerodynamicist up to speed to fill his shoes.

          4. I think it would be more of a situation where Newey was setting out the strategy, goals and objectives for each and every car and the people below him would actually set out to achieve those goals. E.g. The car needs to be softer on the tyres, or it needs more rear end stability, or it needs to be pointer in the front end. Or How can we lower the centre of gravity…. These are the big picture questions, then others help to fulfill those. This is not based on fact, but of logically thinking how the management structure would work in a manufacturing organisation.

      3. That must be why Fernando Alonso turned down the chance to drive for the richest team with a designer that adds 117 steps.

        1. It’d probably just get too full there with 117 steps and six tents in the facility ..

        2. Alonso didn’t turn down a chance to join Red Bull. I honestly think he would if he didn’t have a Ferrari contract in place.

      4. No, it’s likely nothing like that.

        Yes, Adrian Newey is the figurehead, inspirational character and technical lead for the car. He is key (don’t want to do him a disservice – he’s fantastic), with his aero knowledge, in identifying the overall direction the car should take and finding loopholes in the legislation, but he’s not the *one* guy doing the real hard man hours.

        Prodromou and his aero team was the main reason the car was so good aerodynamically (through many man hours work in the Wind Tunnel and CFD suites) and Rob Marshall and his team were the ones who built the car and the new parts that worked and made it mechanically reliable, within the remit of Adrian’s initial design.

        1. I think we are all focusing too much on the aerodinamic side of the RB which is inherently good after so many years of development (they started back in 2009 with the aero concept that is still used today) and left the mechanical side behind. In my opinion one of the key factors of RB dominance is their suspension (just look how it behaves over kerbs compared to the others, it seems they’ve got some sort of mass damper again) and if you ask me which member of the technical staff I would pick to strengthen my staff I’ll definitely say Rob Marshall.

          1. There’s indeed already a speculation circulating technical channels about potential mass dampers being present on RB9.

          2. Yes, that’s what i was referring to, and Rob Marshall is the man that created the original mass damper that gave Renault his wings (sorry RB :P) back in mid 2000’s

          3. I think we are all focusing too much on the aerodinamic side of the RB which is inherently good after so many years of development

            Indeed. I think it will be a great advantage to start from a good block into this new generation of cars because you will work to improve a good car in lieu of trying to build a new year in year out.

            In my opinion one of the key factors of RB dominance is their suspension

            Yes. RB was a kerb eater and that means lots of time over a lap.

            I hope Newey finds a new Prodromou because Marshall needs someone of his caliber on the other side.

      5. David not Coulthard (@)
        19th December 2013, 12:08

        @mashiat 117 steps is pretty small on a circuit long enough to be part of the world Championship Calendar :p

      6. Guys, I never said anything about Red Bull being a one-man team. All I said was that Newey has the greatest contribution to the current success of Red Bull and you would have to have real evidence to argue that point. Even experts called Ross Brawn Mercedes’ greatest asset. Nothing wrong in that And the 117 steps was just a hyperbole and not an actual representation of Newey’s powers.

  2. Tired of Newey hogging all the limelight, claiming stuff he didn’t do- don’t blame them . This is third big departure from RBR tech staff.

    1. Please provide an actual example of Newey claiming credit for things he didn’t do.

      1. There is really no actual example but he does know that media praises him and makes him responsible for team’s success, Newey doesn’t denie that, means he agrees…

        1. I notice both Newey and Horner accept the praise but add a disclaimer “to the guys in the factory who work tremendously hard” etc.
          How about naming individual engineers? Maybe they don’t want them to be poached.

  3. If Mark Ellis and Giles Wood just left Red Bull for Mercedes and Peter Prodromou earlier moved to McLaren and Shaun Whitehead to Williams, surely not everything is right at Red Bull since so many people are leaving.

    1. One can only hope…

      Much prefer natural attrition of staff undermining RB’s domination than the ill-conceived, insidious FIA schemes such as the mickey-mouse double point system.

      1. Unless of course Bernie has been behind all these moves. Now there’s a lovely ****ing thought…

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      19th December 2013, 10:11

      I think it’s more a case of Red Bull hammering the other teams over the last few years and everyone wanting to know the inside story. I imagine Prodromou has massively increased his wage by moving to McLaren. It’s probably more than McLaren have ever paid their Head of Aerodynamics but with him comes all of that Red Bull info on why their aero was so much better than everyone elses!

      1. @petebaldwin

        Indeed. When you hire someone from competition you don’t want his creativity only, you want his memory, his knowledge of his former employer business and strategy and that’s and expensive asset. On the other hand, because everything has a price, Red Bull must be increasing Rob Marshall’s pay…

    3. I think it’s just the nature of the sport these days that top people will get poached, even when they’re with a winning team. In fact it’s not even that new a situation, it’s just reported a bit more openly now than it used to be. Name pretty much any top technical person in an F1 team who has been in F1 for ten years or so, and you’ll see they’ll have worked with at least three or four different teams in their time.

      And let’s face it, Mercedes probably made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. I bet the company car perks are better at Mercedes, if nothing else..

      1. Thinking about the company perks. An S-Class from Mercedes perhaps, versus all the Red Bull you can drink . . .

        1. Both will kill you, but at least with the Mercedes you’ll go quick and in style.

    4. Total domination isn’t just boring for the fans and viewers, team members also run into enthusiasm blocks, especially when a) the team hits the peak of their success and there’s no more real improvement, just running at 110% (which is tiring) and b) all of the plaudits are given to the team figureheads.

      Adrian Newey famously left Williams because he wanted more recognition/status in the team and a share in the company equal to Patrick Head, who blocked his demand.

    5. It’s inevitable. Adrian Newsy is the top guy in the top team. This creates a bbottleneck on the promotion ladder so if you’re an aspiring engineer who wants to move up the ranks you have to look elsewhere.

    6. So Ferrari are the only top team who didn’t grab one of the big(ger) guys from RB. Unless of course they will announce Rob Marshall at christmas and the golden boy for 2015.
      Mercedes on the other hand seemed really crowded already, do they even have enough office space?!

    7. @retardedf1sh – If Mark Ellis and Giles Wood just left Red Bull for Mercedes and Peter Prodromou earlier moved to McLaren and Shaun Whitehead to Williams, surely not everything is right at Red Bull since so many people are leaving.

      I believe it was speculated by F1 investigative reporter Dieter Rencken that RBR would eventually sell the team to another unrelated company in a totally different segment, whilst Red Bull took over title sponsorship of the entire F1 series! I think this was projected to occur in 2 years time from now or something, so perhaps these are the first sings of important staff capitalizing on their achievements and reputational success to land “safer” or “more permanent” positions w/ other more established teams. After all, no guarantee that if Red Bull pulled out, whoever took over funding the team would keep anything the same, even though it’s a winning formula (that includes D.M.’s patronage though, of course).

    8. RetardedF1sh (@retardedf1sh) said on 19th December 2013, 10:03
      If Mark Ellis and Giles Wood just left Red Bull for Mercedes and Peter Prodromou earlier moved to McLaren and Shaun Whitehead to Williams, surely not everything is right at Red Bull since so many people are leaving.

      There are multiple reasons why staff leave an organisation, here are some of the scenarios that may apply:
      * Better Career Opportunities elsewhere
      * Can get better pay elsewhere
      * Work demands are too much
      * Close work mates leave
      * Unhappy with strategic direction or lack there of
      * No longer agree/fit in with current work culture
      * Rats jumping a sinking ship (although unlikely in this scenario)
      * Dislike someone you have to work closely with
      * Change of scenery
      * Location not suiting family
      * Family unhappy

      And I’m sure there are more reasons. But it won’t be the same reason for everyone is the point I’m trying to make.

  4. Just saw this tweet by Adam Cooper:

    “New Merc recruit Mark Elllis has a busy CV, since 2000 he’s gone Brackley to Milton Keynes to Brackley to Milton Keynes to Brackley…”

    1. Haha, is that the same place but a different team name each time?

      1. Brackley = BAR/Honda/Brawn/Mercedes.
        Milton Keynes = Stewart/Jaguar/Red Bull

        1. Enzo Ferrari used to call all these guys “garagisti”…words of wisdom

          1. what “wisdom” is looking down on those starting out exactly as you have @palmerstoneroad?

            After all, he started out just running Alfas, then made it to become the “factory team” for them, and then bought the outfit, the cars and went on to build his own cars. If you keep that in mind, those words are closer to ignorance, false-elitism, and arrogance.

          2. Remind me the last time name-calling resulted in a championship win..

      2. And how far away are those two factories, only a couple of miles?

        1. More than a few miles, but certainly not a long way. Technically the Force India factory is closer to Milton Keynes than the Mercedes factory. But there are loads all within a fairly small area.

  5. End of year final wind up for Red Bull & Lotus …

  6. so many staff members leaving red bull :S

  7. At this point, I am a lot more worried about Mercedes domination than I am about Red Bull domination.

    1. ShaneB457 (@shaneb12345678910)
      19th December 2013, 14:18

      I wouldn’t say I’m worried! Of course we all want to see a close grid next year, but if I had the choice I would rather want Mercedes to have the best car than Red Bull for two reasons – It would be a welcome change for a team other than Red Bull to dominate and we would see a great battle between Hamilton and Rosberg for the championship.. a much closer battle I would imagine than Vettel/Ricciardo.

    2. @kingshark One thing I’ve learned in all my years of watching sport of all kinds. You can throw money at a team and it won’t guarantee to win the prize. Sure Mercedes have invested heavily to try and recruit the “stars”, however, they still need to work together and co-operate at a very high level to achieve their goals. Ferrari are a perfect example of this, it was the Brawn/Todt/Schumacher trio that brought that rat pack together to dominate, without them, the team is still good and still has a lot of money, but they’re no RBR…

  8. some comments about Neweys input in redbull are pretty ironic considering not long ago people attributed all of redbulls success to him, which was never the case to begin with.

    1. spot on. IRBR has close to 700 employees. 5 men leaving the team should not have so hard ramifications, even if they are somewhat senior positions.

      1. @juzh
        Look at how much Ferrari dropped off once they lost Todt, Brawn, and Byrne. You’d be surprised just how much the loss of a few people in top positions can affect a whole team.

        1. @kingshark
          There were other factors involved at ferrari.
          But lets say you’re right. Todt = Horner, Brawn = Newey and Byrne = Prodromou
          2 out of 3 still there.

    2. W (@yesyesyesandyesagain)
      19th December 2013, 14:02

      Too true, just a few months back it was all “Newey is a god” and “Vettel is at best second-rate”. Now Vettel’s stock is on the rise and everyone votes him driver of the year, while all of the sudden Newey is the vapid figurehead who is stealing everyone else’s credit.

  9. Some people say it doesn’t mather to Redbull cause they have Newey and will win anyway. Others say it doesn’t mather to Redbull cause it’s only 5 out of 600+ people. I however feel this actually may put an end to the Redbull domination (after 2014) cause these are big names that leave. All of them are senior/chief/technical engineer. This most be Horners biggest worry in a long time.

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