Red Bull confirm exit of design chief Newey

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Red Bull have confirmed their design chief Adrian Newey will leave the team in early 2025.

Newey, regarded as the greatest designer in the history of Formula 1, told Red Bull last week he wanted to leave in the wake of the controversy involving allegations about team principal Christian Horner.

The 65-year-old’s next team has not been decided but Ferrari are hot favourites to sign him.

Horner said Newey leaves Red Bull “a true legend” and credits him for “all of our greatest moments from the past 20 years”.

“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 said.

Sources close to the situation have told BBC Sport there will be time for Newey to have a major impact on the gestation of a 2026 car design for whichever team he decides to join.

Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Wednesday that Newey had met Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur in London to discuss a potential deal.

Asked for a comment by BBC Sport, Vasseur said: “I have nothing to say.”

Newey has been at Red Bull since 2005 and has overseen two dominant eras with the team – from 2010-14 when they won four consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ titles with Sebastian Vettel, and the current era with Max Verstappen.

Last year, Verstappen and Red Bull produced the most dominant season in F1 history, the Dutchman winning 19 of the 22 races and the team all but one.

They look on course for a similar performance after winning four of the first five races this season.

Newey previously had multiple championship-winning success at both Williams and McLaren.

The official announcement of Newey’s departure was not expected to happen on Wednesday out of respect to the memory of Ayrton Senna – it is the 30th anniversary of the death of the great Brazilian while driving a Williams that Newey designed in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

But events moved quickly overnight after news of Newey’s departure was reported by BBC Sport on Tuesday, insiders say.

Newey said: “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 go to races this year?

Red Bull’s statement said Newey would “continue to attend specific races to support the team trackside to the end of the 2024 season”. The first of these will be the Miami Grand Prix this weekend.

Newey said he would spend the rest of his remaining time with Red Bull focusing on completing the forthcoming RB17 super-car.

He also revealed that his departure had been handled by former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan, who Newey described as his “close friend and manager”.

Jordan and Newey have succeeded in pulling off a major coup in extricating the designer from a contract that ran to the end of 2025 and included a 12-month “non-compete” clause which should have meant he was not available to any other team until 2027 at the earliest.

Newey had become unsettled at Red Bull following allegations by a female employee that team principal Christian Horner was guilty of sexual harassment and controlling, coercive behaviour.

Horner has always denied the charges and was cleared by an internal Red Bull investigation in February. A second investigation is under way after the complainant appealed.

The allegations unearthed a power struggle at Red Bull between Horner and the motorsport director Helmut Marko as well as between the Thai controlling shareholder Chalerm Yoovidhya and minority shareholders Red Bull Gmbh in Austria.

There has also been growing tension in recent times between Horner and Newey over the designer’s importance to the team.

Horner has seemed to diminish Newey’s input in some interviews, and emphasise the role of the rest of the design group under technical director Pierre Wache.

Newey, who eschews the public eye, has privately pushed back against this inside the team.

Why is the date of Newey’s exit important?

F1 is introducing new engine and chassis regulations in 2026 and Newey has become famous for his ability to spot the secrets of new rules and steal a march on his rivals as a result.

This happened in 1998 when he was at McLaren and in 2009 and 2022 at Red Bull.

So getting him a release from his Red Bull contract early enough to work on a team’s new car will be critical in his attractiveness to a new employer.

Beside Ferrari’s interest, Aston Martin have offered him a contract.

McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown said: “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 has indicated he is not interested in pursuing Newey.

He said at an event in New York on Monday: “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.”

Will it have further ramifications?

Newey’s departure will be regarded as a seismic blow to Red Bull, despite their domination of the sport since 2022.

And it will raise further questions about the future of world champion Verstappen.

The Dutchman is known to have been unsettled by the fall-out from the Horner saga and has repeatedly ducked the question when asked to give his team boss his full backing.

But Verstappen, who is under contract to the team until the end of 2028, has expressed his desire for the senior team at Red Bull to stay in place.

As a result, Newey’s departure will increase optimism at Mercedes that they will be able to tempt Verstappen away.

Mercedes are pursuing Verstappen and hope to secure his signature for the 2025 season or, more likely, the one after that.

The Horner controversy may yet have further ramifications within Red Bull. Insiders say other senior figures in the team are also considering leaving as a consequence of it.

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