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Adrian Newey

What Newey's departure means for Red Bull and Verstappen

Adrian Newey is leaving Red Bull Racing after 19 years - but how will this affect the environment, and in particular Max Verstappen, whose future is also uncertain?

Verstappen Newey
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

The news is now official - leading Formula 1 car designer Adrian Newey, who has been part of Red Bull since 2006, will leave the team.

Newey has been an integral part of Red Bull's success across the last 19 years and his departure will deal a great blow to the energy drink-backed squad, whose title charges of late have been led by Max Verstappen.

Before the Briton began his adventure at Red Bull, he enjoyed success elsewhere by winning titles at Williams and McLaren.

However, Newey opted to join the Red Bull project in 2006 when it was still in its infancy and far from the dominating position it currently finds in. That same year, Red Bull took its first podium with David Coulthard in Monaco but a trip to the top step would have to wait until the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix.

After the win, Red Bull's first run of dominance began with four consecutive world titles with Sebastian Vettel.

A slump followed in 2014 when new technical regulations were introduced and for several years, it was Mercedes who enjoyed success at the head of the field.

Power struggle

Since fresh regulations came into effect in 2022, things have been going swimmingly for Red Bull on the track.

Off the back of its title success in 2021 it was been the pick of the field and has commenced the 2024 campaign in strong fashion.

But a blight on the strong start to the season has been the internal power struggle between the Austrian and Thai sides of the organisation. Newey has never spoken about the problem but there is little doubt that the matter has had a heavy influence on his decision to bow out of the team.

It remains to be seen to what extent Newey's input has contributed to Red Bull's monumental success in recent seasons and there have been suggestions that Newey had already stepped back and was more concerned with the Red Bull RB17 hypercar, a project that he will continue to focus on until its completion.

But Newey's knowledge and skill are assets that any team would wish to have - as highlighted by team advisor Helmut Marko earlier this year.

"Losing Newey would of course be a big disadvantage, also because it would mean that another team would then get him,” he said. “In that case, he takes with him not only the knowledge, but also an incredible wealth of experience.

“Of course, the technical department is much more than just Newey, but he is a kind of cult figure and also very important for the young engineers. The young engineers join the team precisely because they like working with Adrian. In that respect, it is a great advantage to have Adrian in our team.”

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Verstappen & Newey

But what does the decision mean for Verstappen's future? Much speculation has been made over the Dutchman's position within the team despite having a contract in place until 2028.

Verstappen has pledged his loyalty to Marko and it is believed that Verstappen has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave in the event that Marko exits - but it is not known how key Newey's plan is to Verstappen's future.

But the three-time world champion will know just how important Newey is and may be able to draw his conclusions from that. If the scenario exists that Verstappen sees Newey as the key to his championship glory, then perhaps that could accelerate his own departures from Red Bull.

Is he waiting to see what Newey will do or does he have the confidence that he can win a world title even with other senior technical figures?

Verstappen is already being chased by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who is seeking a replacement for Lewis Hamilton ahead of his move to Ferrari.

Verstappen's big question is whether he wants to take a gamble on Mercedes to make a recovery to the front of the field, or stick with what he knows and likely score another world championship in 2025 before another regulation switch-up in 2026.

Earlier this year however, Verstappen stated while the senior tensions rumbled on at Red Bull: “From my side, what I want and it doesn’t matter who is involved in the team or not, it’s to have a quiet environment where everyone is happy to work.”

Right now, Red Bull looks to be far from that peaceful environment - and Newey's exit could just be the first in a series of monumental departures from the reigning world champions.

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