Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko says Mercedes is desperately trying to delay the move of its engine man Ben Hodgkinson to Red Bull's new engine unit.
Red Bull Powertrains, which will handle the F1 team's engine program from next season, is currently in the process of being set up at Milton Keynes.
In addition to a dedicated building under construction on Red Bull's campus, efforts are well underway to recruit key staff for the new unit, with Hodgkinson's high profile hiring already announced last week.
The now former Mercedes HPP head of engineering is set to become Red Bull Powertrain's technical director, a position the Briton will assume after an expected period of gardening leave imposed by Mercedes.
But according to Marko, the German manufacturer is using all its legal resources to try and extend that period and delay the start of Hodgkinson's tenure with Red Bull.
"The decisive thing is, we didn't have to persuade him at all," Marko told F1-Insider. "Ben applied independently through our advertisement.
"Mercedes is now trying everything they legally can do to delay the start of his work. But it won't take as long as Mercedes would like."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said last week that more important hiring were in the works, which Marko confirmed.
"He is not the only one who wants to join us," added Marko. "There are also other high-profile figures, whose names I cannot yet give."
Interestingly, Marko took a veiled dig at Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff, suggesting his countryman hasn't been able to avoid an exodus of Mercedes personnel from Brixworth.
"I know only one thing," added Marko. "If Niki Lauda were still alive, we would not have been able to do this."