Mercedes are taking legal action against an engineer who allegedly took confidential information as he prepared to join Formula 1 rivals Ferrari.

Benjamin Hoyle, who works for engine manufacturers Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, is alleged to have searched and saved race data.

Hoyle was set to leave Mercedes at the end of 2015.

"The company has taken the appropriate legal steps to protect its intellectual property," said a team spokesperson.

According to Bloomberg, Mercedes wants the return of all documents and information, payment of its legal fees, and is seeking to block Hoyle from joining Ferrari or any other F1 rival until after the 2016 season.

The Mercedes team won the 2015 constructors' championship by 275 points from Ferrari.