Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has vehemently denied rumours linking former Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul to the team’s newly formed powertrains division.
The Frenchman endured a torrid relationship with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner during Renault’s time supplying the Milton Keynes-based squad with engines in the turbo-hybrid era of Formula 1.
Seven reliability-related retirements in 2018 were enough to sever a tie that had already been hacked at several times since the start of the hybrid era.
Following three seasons with Honda that included 16 race wins and a championship for Max Verstappen, Red Bull will now be making their own powertrains for the 2022 season and beyond.
Sensationally, reports have suggested that Abiteboul will join Red bull to head up their powertrains division.
However, Dr Marko has branded this “nonsense” and insisted Abiteboul won’t be joining Red Bull anytime soon.
“I really don’t know where this nonsense comes from,” Dr Marko told F1-Insider.com.
Ben Hodgkinson has signed for Red Bull from Mercedes, with the British engineer having worked at Brackley since their BAR days in 2001.
Dr Marko affirmed that Hodgkinson is the man in charge of the engine department.
“It’s absolute nonsense. Ben Hodgkinson is and will remain the leader of our engine project,” he added.
“We hope that he can start working as soon as possible.”
As for performance in 2022, former Red Bull driver Alex Albon has recently suggested that the team “stopped focusing on next year’s car and focused more on this year’s car,” during his time as test and reserve driver last year.
The Red Bull advisor appeared to disagree, adding that the team are in a good position to help Max Verstappen retain his world championship.
“Albon’s statements were misinterpreted,” he said.
“All I can say is that we want to defend Max Verstappen’s title and are very well positioned to do so.”
The Austrian insisted that resources between last year and this season had been shared out equitably.
“We had two different development programs running in 2021. Both worked,” Dr Marko added.
“There’s no reason to believe that, unless someone has found the Philosopher’s Stone in the new regulations, Mercedes and us won’t be the favourites again this year.”
Red Bull missed out on their fifth Constructors’ Championship last season as Mercedes won their record eighth consecutive title.
The 2022 season gets going on 20 March in Bahrain, and there will be two separate pre-season tests in the prior weeks.