Red Bull Announces Departure of Chief Designer Adrian Newey

Red Bull has officially announced that their chief designer, Adrian Newey, will depart from the team in early 2025.

Mark Phelan

By Mark Phelan
Updated on May 2, 2024

Adrian Newey Leaving Red Bull Racing
The Team announces that Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey will leave the Red Bull Technology Group in the first quarter of 2025.

Adrian Newey, widely considered the most accomplished designer in Formula 1 history, informed Red Bull last week of his decision to leave following the controversy involving team principal Christian Horner. At 65, Newey has not yet committed to another team, though Ferrari is currently the leading contender to secure his expertise.

Christian Horner praised Newey as “a true legend,” attributing the team’s most significant achievements over the past two decades to his influence. “His exceptional ability to conceptualise beyond F1, his remarkable talent for embracing change and finding the most rewarding areas of the rules to focus on, and his relentless will to win have helped Red Bull become a greater force than even the late Dietrich Mateschitz might have imagined,” Horner remarked.

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Reports from Gazzetta dello Sport indicate that Newey met with Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur in London recently to negotiate a potential agreement. When asked for a statement, Vasseur said, “I have nothing to say.”

Since joining Red Bull in 2005, Newey has led the team through two dominant phases: the 2010-14 period, during which Sebastian Vettel secured four consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ titles, and the current era with Max Verstappen. Under his guidance, last year Verstappen and Red Bull achieved the most dominant season in F1 history, with Verstappen winning 19 of the 22 races.

The team appears set to replicate last year’s success, having won four of this season’s first five races. Newey also boasts championship victories with Williams and McLaren prior to his tenure at Red Bull.

The official announcement of Newey’s departure was suppose to be postponed until after Wednesday, out of respect for the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s death, who died in a Williams car designed by Newey during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Despite the unexpected early release of the news following a BBC Sport report, Newey expressed his pride in his nearly two-decade tenure at Red Bull: “For almost two decades, it has been my great honour to have played a key role in Red Bull Racing’s progress from upstart newcomer to multiple title-winning team.

“However, I feel now is an opportune moment to hand that baton over to others and to seek new challenges for myself.”

Will Newey Attend Races This Year?

Red Bull has confirmed that Adrian Newey will continue to attend select races to provide trackside support through the end of the 2024 season, starting with the Miami Grand Prix this weekend.

During his remaining time at Red Bull, Newey will focus on completing the development of the upcoming RB17 supercar.

Newey disclosed that his exit negotiations were managed by Eddie Jordan, his close friend and manager. Together, they successfully negotiated his early release from a contract initially set to end in 2025, which included a 12-month “non-compete” clause that would have restricted his availability to other teams until at least 2027.

Newey’s decision to leave was influenced by his discomfort at Red Bull following allegations of sexual harassment and controlling, coercive behaviour made against team principal Christian Horner by a female employee. Although Horner denied the allegations and was cleared in an initial Red Bull investigation, the case remains open due to an ongoing appeal.

The situation revealed underlying power struggles within Red Bull, not only between Horner and motorsport director Helmut Marko but also involving the Thai controlling shareholder Chalerm Yoovidhya and the Austrian minority shareholders of Red Bull GmbH.

Moreover, tensions have been rising between Horner and Newey, with Horner occasionally downplaying Newey’s contributions in interviews and highlighting the efforts of the broader design team led by technical director Pierre Wache. Despite being generally reserved, Newey has internally resisted these diminishments of his role.

Why is the Timing of Newey’s Departure Significant?

The impending introduction of new engine and chassis regulations in Formula 1 in 2026 emphasises the importance of Adrian Newey’s exit date from Red Bull. Newey is renowned for his exceptional ability to decipher new regulations and capitalise on them, giving his teams a competitive edge. This was evident during his tenure at McLaren in 1998, at Red Bull in 2009, and again in 2022.

Securing his early release from Red Bull is crucial because it allows him enough time to influence the development of a new car for any team that hires him next, enhancing his appeal to prospective employers. In addition to Ferrari, which has shown significant interest, Aston Martin has also extended a contract offer to him.

Commenting on the situation, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown acknowledged Newey’s unmatched success in design, saying, “Adrian is a good friend and clearly the most successful designer of all time.

“However, we have a plan in place at McLaren and I am extremely happy with our technical leadership team and the progress we’re making to get back to the front of the grid.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, meanwhile, expressed no interest in recruiting Newey. Speaking at an event in New York, Wolff remarked, “Adrian Newey is an iconic engineer in F1 with a great track record. I’m just looking at it like a fan and watching that space.”

What Further Implications Might Newey’s Departure Have?

Adrian Newey’s exit from Red Bull will likely be seen as a major loss, particularly given the team’s dominance in the sport since 2022. This move could also amplify concerns about the future of world champion Max Verstappen.

Verstappen has appeared unsettled by the controversy surrounding team principal Christian Horner and has evaded questions about fully endorsing Horner. Despite this, Verstappen, whose contract runs through 2028, has voiced a preference for stability among the senior team leadership at Red Bull.

Newey’s departure might boost Mercedes’ hopes of enticing Verstappen to their team. Mercedes is keen on recruiting Verstappen, eyeing a possible move for the 2025 season or potentially the following year.

The fallout from the Horner controversy may lead to additional upheavals within Red Bull. There are indications that other top figures in the team are contemplating departures due to the ongoing internal strife.

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About The Author

Senior Editor

Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

Mark is a staff writer specialising in the history of Formula 1 races. Mark researches most of our historic content from teams to drivers and races. He has followed Formula 1 since 1988, and admits to having a soft spot for British drivers from James Hunt and Nigel Mansell to Lando Norris. He loves a great F1 podcast and has read pretty much every drivers biography.

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