News and views on motorsports

Friday, November 11, 2005

Adrian Newey

Following the shock announcement of Adrian Newey's switch to Red Bull Racing, I noticed a number of interesting comments and analyses. Not least this one from our friends at Formula 1 blog. Jay Steele mentions a number of factors echoed elsewhere about the pressures of working in a stifling big corporate environment that McLaren has become and also the high expectations placed not only on the talented Newey but also everyone at Woking. Both excellent points.

Though it be denied, nevertheless, some have speculated that as ever money was also an issue. This story on Pitpass claims that Adrian had demanded a substantial increase in his current USD 6 million salary to which Ron Dennis understandably refused. If I'm not mistaken at 6 mil he's on par with Mike Gascoyne at Toyota. In this story at, its speculated that Red Bull offered Adrian a bumper USD 10 million per annum salary.

Adrian himself has said little substantially on the matter, only to say that "it was time for a change." Perhaps Jay Steele is right. He's simply bored. This article on discusses it further. The following quote in the article is of interest:

"One of the reasons that Adrian Newey is leaving McLaren is that for a time, a year or so ago, Newey felt that he was being ignored. The cars were not working and Newey reckoned that he knew how to fix them. It turns out that he did and the MP4-20 is, depending on who you talk to, evidence that Newey is someone who makes the difference."

It boggles the mind that McLaren would ignore such a huge talent like Adrian. But then again, Ron Dennis is a great believer of business processes than maverick individuals. I suppose its what any management consultant would advise their clients. Rely less on individuals and let the process produce the end product. I think this started after John Barnard left McLaren in the eighties. Although the wildly successful 1988 MP4/4 was designed by Gordon Murray (former long time Brabham employee), subsequent cars were more of a design by commitee. Successful up to a point until 1992 when the Newey designed Williams in Nigel Mansell's hands conquered all.

Thereafter, many felt that McLaren's design committee was producing journeyman machines all the was to 1997 when McLaren snapped up Newey. His influence was near immediate. World titles in 1998 and 1999 for Mika Hakkinen demonstrated Adrian's worth. Not that it needed demonstrating.

Though I hate to see Adrian go to a Ferrari linked team, nevertheless, I am rather hoping he produces a car along the lines of the '89 Leyton House March. Who could forget its ability to give then dominant McLaren-Honda a huge scare. Ivan Capelli's (or was it Gugelmin?) heroics on the Mistral straight at Paul Ricard was unforgettable. The Judd V8 revving itself to bits in a car, or more likely its peerless aero, that was clearly better than the engine.

One thing's for sure, Red Bull will be the place where Adrian can express his considerable talents to the full, instead of being shackled by the Accenture inspired practices at McLaren. Though McLaren may have depth in their engineering team the corporate environment is unlikely to produce an inspirational racing car. No matter what Ron says, they are going to miss Adrian. I bet folks at Williams Grand Prix Engineering did as well.

1 comment:

Nico said...

Fantastic reporting, what a shame you appear to have given up on sharing the news! Getting good quality news on is so hard. Most is mixed with bias opinions or so sanitised as not to offend anyone.

Get back on topic please!