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Red Bull confirms Adrian Newey’s departure, but where next for the F1 designer?

Hottest man in the paddock at 65 years old

Red Bull Racing has confirmed its design boss Adrian Newey will leave the F1 team in the first quarter of 2025.

Warwickshire-born Newey is considered one of the greatest car designers in Formula One, having worked in motor sport since 1980, and his design genius has been a key factor in the seven World Drivers’ Championship titles Red Bull have won since he joined the team in 2006.

Last year, the 65-year-old signed a contract extension that would see him stay at the team’s Milton Keynes HQ until the end of 2025, but Red Bull has now announced he will leave before the 2025 season begins.

Rumours of controversy

Newey reportedly took the decision to leave because of controversy surrounding team principal Christian Horner, who has faced allegations of “inappropriate and controlling behaviour.”

Although the complaint was dismissed by an independent investigation, the story has rumbled on, with Horner’s unnamed accuser appealing the result and being suspended by Red Bull shortly after the investigation concluded.

Other factors could be at play, though, with new rule changes arriving in the sport in 2026. At the same time, Red Bull will move away from current engine supplier Honda, with which the team has won three world titles in three years, and switch to Ford.

Newey’s departure at the beginning of 2025 means he will be able to work on the team’s 2025 contender but may have limited input into the 2026 car.

However, Newey will continue to work on Red Bull’s forthcoming hypercar, the RB17, “until [the project’s] completion.”

In demand throughout the paddock

Even so, Newey, who went to Repton School with The Sunday Times columnist Jeremy Clarkson, is likely to be hot property in the F1 paddock, and Red Bull’s rival, Ferrari, is the firm favourite to lure him back into the sport.

According to reports from Italian sports publication Gazzetta dello Sport, Newey has already met with Ferrari’s team principal, Frederic Vasseur, to discuss a potential move to Maranello. Ferrari has signed British seven-times F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton from 2025; poaching Newey would be another coup and a further signal of intent.

Aston Martin Racing is also reportedly interested in attracting Newey’s technical prowess to its Silverstone F1 headquarters. Newey led the design of the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar, which was jointly developed with Red Bull Racing. In October 2023, Aston Martin announced that the Valkyrie is being developed to compete in the Hypercar and GTP classes of the World Endurance Championship (including the Le Mans 24 Hours) and North American IMSA series from 2025.

Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro

Publicly, at least, Newey has made little mention of the future, having just unentwined himself from a contract that reportedly included a “non-compete” clause that prevented him from working in the sport again until 2027.

“Ever since I was a young boy, I wanted to be a designer of fast cars,” said Newey in a statement. “My dream was to be an engineer in Formula One, and I’ve been lucky enough to make that dream a reality. 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.

“In the interim, the final stages of development of RB17 are upon us, so for the remainder of my time with the team my focus will lie there.”

Christian Horner full of praise for Newey

Red Bull Racing team principal Horner said of his departing colleague: “All of our greatest moments from the past 20 years have come with Adrian’s hand on the technical tiller. His vision and brilliance have helped us to 13 titles in 20 seasons. His exceptional ability to conceptualise beyond F1 and bring wider inspiration to bear on the design of grand prix cars, 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 Racing.

Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team boss, during day one of F1 testing at Circuit de Catalunya (Eric Alonso/ Getty Images)

“More than that, the past 19 years with Adrian have been enormous fun. For me, when Adrian joined Red Bull, he was already a superstar designer. Two decades and 13 championships later, he leaves as a true legend. He is also my friend and someone I will be eternally grateful to for everything he brought to our partnership.

“The legacy he leaves behind will echo through the halls of Milton Keynes and RB17 Track Car will be a fitting testament and legacy to his time with us.”

What next for Red Bull Racing?

For Horner and Red Bull, Newey’s departure leaves a headache, with the team forced to find a replacement. Whether the team will promote from within or hire new blood remains to be seen, but Mercedes’ technical director James Allison could be a target, despite signing a new long-term contract extension earlier this year.

And that isn’t the team’s only recruitment headache, as the future of driver Sergio Perez is very much in the balance. The Mexican driver has been on the verge of losing his seat for some time, and the unexpected availability of Carlos Sainz, who will be ousted from Ferrari by Lewis Hamilton’s surprise switch to the Italian manufacturer in 2025, may see Perez ditched by Red Bull.

However, while Sainz was tipped to take the seat from the Mexican driver, Newey’s decision to leave may impact both his and Red Bull’s decision making. Sainz may prefer a shorter contract, or simply decide to look elsewhere — specifically the now-vacant Mercedes seat — given Newey will not be involved with Red Bull’s car development post-2025.

On the other hand, with Hamilton’s defection from Mercedes to Ferrari already confirmed for next season, Mercedes is surely in the market for Red Bull’s star driver, Max Verstappen. The three-times champion has a contract with Red Bull until 2028, but Mercedes bosses are rumoured to be preparing a huge salary package to entice him away.

Given the Red Bull investigation’s findings have been appealed, and the team principal’s status at the team is therefore still uncertain, it’s possible that Red Bull could lose its team boss, designer and number-one driver within the space of a season.

Adrian Newey’s F1 career timeline so far

1980 After graduating from the University of Southampton with a first-class honours degree in aeronautics and astronautics, 22-year-old Newey joins the Fittipaldi F1 team.

1981 Newey moves to the March racing team, becoming a race engineer in Formula 2, then switching to design.

1984 Newey moves into March’s IndyCar division, before winning both the championship and the famous Indy 500 in 1985 and 1986.

1988 Remaining with March, Newey transfers back to F1 and pens his first F1 car, the March 881. Although the car is more competitive than expected, its highest finish is second at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

1991 After being sacked by March in 1990, Newey joins the Williams F1 team.

1992 The Newey-designed Williams FW14 wins the F1 drivers’ championship in the hands of Nigel Mansell, before Alain Prost achieves the same feat in Newey’s FW15 in 1993.

1994 The great Ayrton Senna joins Williams and helps the team to a third consecutive constructors’ title but is killed driving the FW16 at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, held at Imola, Italy. Along with several other team members, Newey is later charged with manslaughter but subsequently acquitted.

1997 Having won 59 out of 114 races in six seasons, and taken 78 pole positions, Newey leaves Williams for McLaren, with Mika Hakkinen winning titles in 1998 and 1999, before being pipped by Michael Schumacher in 2000.

2006 After a drawn-out divorce with McLaren, Newey joins Red Bull Racing.

2009 Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber claim two consecutive 1-2 finishes in the first two races of the season but Red Bull only finishes the season second in the constructors’ standings.

2010 A period of dominance begins, with Sebastian Vettel claiming four drivers’ championships in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, while the assistance of Webber ensures the team also wins four consecutive constructors’ titles in that time.

2014 The arrival of hybrid power sees Red Bull’s Renault engines become uncompetitive, leaving the team devoid of titles for several years.

2021 With Honda power, Newey’s Red Bull cars regain their competitiveness, and Max Verstappen wins the first of three consecutive drivers’ titles, although amid controversy surrounding the safety car restart in the closing laps of the final round.

2023 Red Bull Racing dominates the F1 championship in unprecedented fashion, winning all but one of the 22 races. Max Verstappen finishes the season with more than double the points of the second-placed driver, teammate Sergio Perez.

2024 With team boss Christian Horner under investigation over allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female colleague, rumours begin to swirl around Newey’s future. On May 1, Red Bull Racing confirms Newey’s departure.

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