As a designer, Adrian Newey was already partly responsible for 25 world titles in Formula 1, thirteen of which are now as an employee of Red Bull Racing. In conversation with The Telegraph, the Briton discussed his career in detail, including the Renault era and various other projects in which Newey is involved.
Newey does not spend all his time on the Red Bull Formula 1 team. ‘It’s hard to say, but I would say about half. I think I’m a bit of an outsider in that respect, because I’ve managed to get into a situation now where the Formula 1 team can operate without me, which puts me in the luxury position of being able to be involved in every project hitting what I feel like,” Newey says.
Red Bull’s master designer, now 64, signed a new contract with Red Bull Racing earlier this year, and was not present in Brazil because he was racing with the CEO of Ford in Daytona. The fact that he can occasionally be busy with other things only keeps him sharp. ‘I believe I have completed sixteen races at the end of the year, which used to be a full season in Formula 1!’
High peaks and deep valleys
Currently, Newey also has every reason to enjoy his working life: Formula 1 reintroduced ground effect in 2022, a specialty of Newey, and the successful designer turned Formula 1, not for the first time, into his playground, where the challenging teams are increasingly trying to imitate Red Bull’s concept. As a designer, Formula 1 is the absolute pinnacle of motorsport, but for the Briton the confrontation with powerlessness was especially difficult.
The hybrid engines were introduced in 2014, with Red Bull having no chance of winning the main prizes thanks to the weak and unreliable Renault power unit. At that moment Newey lost motivation: ‘I remember that we went with Christian (Horner, ed.) and Helmut (Marko, ed.) to former Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn for a conversation on the Champs Elysees. He basically just said: we are only in Formula 1 because my marketing department said we should. It doesn’t interest me. That was a pretty depressing moment,” Newey says.
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Newey chose at the time to take a step back and focus on other projects, but since the collaboration with Honda and the announcement of the return of ground effect, Newey is enjoying Formula 1 again. Red Bull has already won nineteen Grands Prix this year, and Newey is also busy with other fun things, including the development of the RB17, a hypercar.
Newey previously did this with the Aston Martin Valkyrie. ‘I remember when I was at McLaren that Gordon Murray (former designer of the dominant 1988 McLaren, ed.) worked with Mercedes on the SLR. He found that a frustrating project, having to work with a manufacturer. I don’t want to criticize Aston Martin at all, but a manufacturer handles the research, design, testing and building of a car very differently than how we do it as designers. So an opportunity to build a second car is very nice.’
Newey designs submarine
The 64-year-old Briton is not only busy with cars, but is also working on a submarine, an initiative of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz. “It’s a huge shame that he can’t see it anymore when it’s finished,” Newey says about the deceased Mateschitz. ‘I’m even a little nervous about it, even before the Titanic submarine accident, but we are rightly working in collaboration with experts in the field of submarines. We also don’t want to reach enormous depths. Dietrich wrote in his letter that he wanted one that would make it easy for him to travel around his private island,” laughs Newey, who says he will go into the submarine himself when it is finished.”