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Ben Hodgkinson, an alumni of UCL Mechanical Engineering and a very familiar face within the department, is to leave Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains to join Red Bull F1 as the technical director of their new engine division.
“We are delighted to welcome Ben to Red Bull Powertrains as technical director,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. “He comes to this hugely exciting project as a proven race winner and as an innovator capable of leading a like-minded team of highly skilled engineers.”
The Milton Keynes based F1 racing team say Ben will be focused on developing new power units for the next generation of engines, set to be introduced to the top tier of motorsport in 2025.
“I’m extremely excited to be joining Red Bull Powertrains as technical director,” said Hodgkinson. “It was not easy to make the decision to leave HPP after almost 20 years but the opportunity to take on such a far-reaching and important project is a great honour.
Hodgkinson climbed through the ranks of engineers at multiple F1 world champions Mercedes – home to iconic champion driver Lewis Hamilton – over nearly 20 years, most recently as their head of mechanical engineering. He has also been a frequent visitor to and support of the department.
Ben served as a visiting professor at UCL, gave an inspiring talk at our ( memorably, dramatically invaded) Kennedy Dinner and regularly brings his stellar professional expertise to bear in the classroom, putting teams of UCL MechEng undergraduates through their paces in design scenarios, design challenges and mock interviews. He has also been instrumental in hiring several recent MechEng graduates to join the team at Mercedes AMG HPP, making the huge leap from Formula Student to F1.
Ben’s longstanding relationship with Professor Tim Baker, who gave him a significant early break in his racing career and invited him back to UCL to inspire current students, proved a crucial trigger in the much-lauded UCL/UCLH/Mercedes collaboration to produce breathing aids for COVID-19 patients.
UCL Ventura, as the project is named, delivered 10,000 continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to help patients with breathing problems resulting from infection. These were designed and prototyped in the department at MechSpace, approved and commissioned by the UK government, manufactured by Mercedes F1 and distributed to UK hospitals, with designs shared around the world. The UK government recently sent 100 of these UCL units as part of a package to help with the current pandemic crisis in India.
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