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Red Bull claim many of Mercedes’ leading figures want to switch teams after they captured the Silver Arrows’ head of mechanical engineering Ben Hodgkinson. Helmut Marko has accused the defending Constructors’ Champions of doing everything in their power to stop Hodgkinson from making the move as soon as possible. Marko feels the tide is shifting and Hodkinson’s arrival could the start of the Mercedes departure gates opening.
“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.
“He is not the only one who wants to join us. There are also other high-profile figures, whose names I cannot yet give. I know only one thing: if Niki Lauda were still alive, we would not have been able to do this.”
Meanwhile, former F1 star Mark Webber reckons Mercedes have many weaknesses this year and Lewis Hamilton has had to paper over the cracks in the opening two races.
“I think Hamilton has propped Mercedes up a bit in the first two races,” Webber told Marca. “The car is not easy, far from it, but Lewis has got the results and even leads the World Championship.
“But he has a tough rival in Verstappen. We are all fans of Max’s style, watching his racing is incredibly spectacular, which is exactly what we ask of an F1 driver.
“They are two gladiators and that’s what this sport needs, an intense rivalry… and there will come a peak moment when there will be fireworks between the two, I’m convinced.
“At the moment they get on well and have a lot of respect for each other, but during the season? Hamilton is a 12-round boxer, he will always be on the prowl and against him you have to be ready to take the fight.”