Wolff tells Horner to ‘work on the math’ regarding poached staff

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Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff hit back last weekend in Imola at Christian Honer’s claim that Red Bull Powertrains had poached 220 members of staff from the German outfit’s HPP engine department in Brixworth.

Horner raised a few eyebrows when he put forth the number in Miami earlier this month, an assertion that followed a comment by McLaren boss Zak Brown who feared than an exodus would unfolding at Red Bull following the departure of the team’s design guru Adrian Newey.

"I don't know how many people we or RB have employed from McLaren this year. Mercedes, we have taken 220 people out of HPP into Red Bull Powertrains,” Horner said.

"So, when we are talking about losing people, I would be a bit more worried about the 220 than maybe one or two CVs."

At last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Wolff was asked to address his Red Bull counter-part’s claim. The Austrian’s response, measured yet firm, stood in stark contrast to Horner’s seemingly outlandish allegation.

“You’ve got to work on the math. 19 engineers,” Wolff said, as if he was addressing Horner.

“And so, you know, whatever those numbers are, I think there is a natural fluctuation between teams that come and go, which is completely normal.

“We have an engine department that is as good as it can be, with a top leadership., there is not a millimetre in HPP that should be different in terms of organisational set-up, in terms of the people that works there that I’m lucky to interact with, it’s a perfect organisation.”

Red Bull will be joining Formula 1’s list of power unit suppliers from 2026. But Wolff went on to express his unwavering confidence in the strength and stability of Mercedes' engine department, a unit whose expertise led to the most dominant engine in F1’s hybrid era.

“They have delivered for a long time.” He added.

“Since 2014 we have been the benchmark, with maybe another engine the benchmark, that hasn’t changed.

“I really can't wait for 2026 to come and see the different levels of performance of the power unit,” he concluded.

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