Despite designing his way to an incredible 25 Formula 1 titles over the years, Red Bull's Adrian Newey has described how he still enjoys 'eureka' moments.
Newey is F1's preeminent designer, having won titles with Williams, McLaren and latterly Red Bull, guiding the likes of Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen to title success.
Since 1992, a Newey designed car has won the Constructors' 12 times, and picked up 13 Drivers' titles - with his latest creation in the RB19 being the most dominant of them all with 21 wins from 22 races in 2023 and a record 860 points.
As Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull, a lot of the day-to-day design work is actually done by the team below Newey including Pierre Wache and Ben Waterhouse, but Newey still spends time at his famed drawing board - where he describes the rare moments of a 'eureka!' moment.
Viewed by others:
Newey's 'eureka' moments
"They’re rare but they do happen, and they’re very satisfying," Newey told TopGear of these so-called 'eureka' moments.
"You might think it’s the best idea ever, but you have to be very disciplined about proving it out. It’s a long process, but if it results in something that goes on the car and the car then goes faster that’s very satisfying.
"Once you take reliability out we really only have one master and that’s the stopwatch.
"The drawing board is a way for me to get the ideas out of my head and onto a medium I can develop them with, but you still need that spark.
"The subconscious is an amazing thing. I’ve had it many times when I’m stuck on something, give up and go and have a coffee or something. One day, one week, one month later, and a solution pops up.
"That comes from experience. It also taps into the managerial and developmental side of my job.
"Working with my colleagues is an aspect I really enjoy, and even if I feel an idea isn’t a good one it’s possible I could be wrong. I certainly don’t want to stifle anyone’s creativity, and it’s important to be encouraging. But we also have to be efficient, especially in the cost cap era."
Red Bull's CTO also touched briefly on the increased use of AI in F1 over the coming years - and believes that it is already present, to a degree.
"At some point it will, but it’s much more difficult to ascertain the timeline," he said.
"AI is a broad buzzword term but it’s really an extension of ‘machine learning’ with a bit of internet thrown in, and that’s been around for ages.
"We’ve been using stress analysis optimisers for years [FEA or finite element analysis] but the human ultimately still seems to be better than the optimiser. It’s a tool but they absolutely do not replace the human."