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Formula 1

Newey to leave Red Bull? Shock exit talk explained

by Scott Mitchell-Malm, Mark Hughes
7 min read

Formula 1 design legend Adrian Newey could depart Red Bull with speculation rife he wants to leave and potentially make a sensational move to a rival team.

Newey F1 cars have won a combined total of 25 drivers’ and constructors’ championships across three different teams in an extraordinary career.

He has been at Red Bull Racing since joining from McLaren in 2006 and, having taken on different responsibilities including engaging in non-F1 projects in that time, is currently the team’s chief technical officer.

But Newey’s place at the team has seemed uncertain for a while, initially as he appeared to be at risk of Red Bull phasing out his involvement, and more recently following the scandal engulfing the team’s leader Christian Horner.

There are now reports - with the story originating in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport and backed up by the BBC - that Newey has informed Red Bull of his intention to leave.

However, when approached by The Race, a Red Bull spokesperson said: "Adrian is contracted until at least the end of 2025 and we are unaware of him joining any other team."

Though that leaves some wiggle room for Newey wanting to leave or even informing senior figures at Red Bull of his intention to do so, it is an interesting specific reference to the length of Newey's contract and to the notion of him moving to a rival.

To stay in F1 and prepare for the new car rules in 2026, Newey would need to negotiate a shorter period of gardening leave that allows him to work at another team next year.

Red Bull is indicating that will not be possible. And confirming Newey's contract runs until "at least the end of 2025" implies there are mechanisms in Newey's deal that could prevent him from working elsewhere for even longer - for example, if the end of 2025 is the earliest that a period of gardening leave would begin, that would mean he couldn't start work for another team until 2027.

But there would presumably be nothing Red Bull could do to stop Newey simply retiring.


Adrian Newey and Christian Horner, Red Bull, F1

Newey is understood to be unimpressed with the situation around Horner, who has been in the spotlight for months over allegations made by a female member of staff.

Red Bull’s parent company ordered an investigation into claims Horner was inappropriate and controlling to a woman who worked for him.

Upon its completion, Red Bull GmbH declared the grievance had been dismissed, and Horner remained in his position - but senior F1 officials, others in the paddock and many fans have been left apprehensive of how Red Bull has handled the entire situation.

Privately, Newey is believed to have had his own concerns. And this seems to have been an important factor in deciding if he wants to be part of the team longer-term.

It has not helped that since the Horner allegations came to light, a deep-rooted Red Bull power struggle has been publicly exposed.

Horner has faced off against Jos Verstappen, the father of Red Bull’s star driver Max Verstappen, and had issues with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko – who has effectively run the team alongside Horner since its inception.

Marko is a key figure for the Verstappens and it has been felt more than once that there was pressure from Horner’s Milton Keynes side of Red Bull to force Marko out.

Beyond that is the issue of greater control being sought by Red Bull in Austria, led by Oliver Mintzlaff, and a possible clash between the leadership there and Red Bull’s Thai co-owner, who is on Horner’s side.

Newey, apolitical by nature, has always been assumed to be disinterested in such machinations. And his greater concern would be that the team splitting into factions would limit its competitive potential – at a time when Newey has less of a personal desire to remain at Red Bull than ever.


Adrian Newey, Red Bull, F1

Newey is the single most important signing in Red Bull’s history, and Horner was a key part of pulling that off.

Newey wrote in his memoir that he and Horner shared the same ideology for the team, and it has always been felt that Horner was key to keeping Newey happy and engaged in the F1 team.

That involved giving him the freedom to pursue different projects and be as involved as he wanted on his own terms.

But more recently it has been suggested that Newey may feel like he is being phased out, possibly to keep Ferrari target and Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache on board longer-term.

Pierre Wache, Red Bull, F1

Red Bull’s technical structure has changed over the years, in no small part to accommodate Newey’s shifting involvement.

As part of that Horner promoted Wache to technical director, made him a more prominent spokesperson, and stressed how Wache has led a team that is not dependent on Newey’s genius alone.

Horner had even characterised it as a “machine” that let Newey move “in and out” as he pleased.

Privately, Newey is known to have felt he was much more influential than perhaps given credit for.


Ferrari and Aston Martin, F1

Assuming Newey's intention is not to retire, he would be highly coveted by rival F1 teams.

Newey has already been linked with moves to Ferrari and Aston Martin in recent months.

Ferrari is pushing aggressively to end its long title drought and has signed Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes to partner Charles Leclerc for 2025.

Newey has publicly lamented the fact he has not worked with the likes of Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. A move to Maranello would tick off two of those in one go from 2025, having previously turned down offers from Ferrari.

But Ferrari has been linked with Wache since last year and there are rumours that team boss Fred Vasseur has not given up that chase.

Wache and head of aerodynamics Enrico Balbo were speculated to be Ferrari targets early last year and it was Horner who quelled that, insisting that conversations had been had with both and that they were happy.

Meanwhile, another of Newey’s borderline regrets – not working with Alonso – could be tackled with a move to the ambitious Aston Martin, which has freely been spending money to assemble a powerhouse technical team and will take over Red Bull’s works Honda engine deal for 2026, with Alonso signed up for the first year of the new rules and beyond.

F1 2023

Moving to Aston would allow Newey to stay in the UK, so would seem to tick several boxes.

Aston recently denied it had made Newey an offer to join Lawrence Stroll’s ambitious organisation. Its position was that it was satisfied with its current technical structure.

One of Newey’s former proteges Dan Fallows is Aston Martin’s technical director, and putting him back in Newey’s shadow may be best avoided, while the role of chief technical officer already exists for long-time Team Silverstone man Andrew Green.

Aston also recently hired long-time Renault man Bob Bell as executive director to effectively lead its 2026 car project.

Where Newey fits in may matter less than Aston Martin having the opportunity to get him, though.

So, it could be a case of signing him and working out a structure later.


Christian Horner and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, F1

Since the Horner saga erupted earlier this year it has been clear that a fractured Red Bull leadership had left rivals smelling blood.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has tried to flirt with the Verstappens at every turn, very publicly pushing a narrative that Max could be tempted to leave if Red Bull risks imploding.

The most serious threat to Verstappen’s place at Red Bull seemed to be a potential Marko ousting - when Verstappen made it clear his own future was tied to the Austrian’s.

But Verstappen also said that it was vital that Red Bull’s key pillars remain in place. And Newey has to be considered one of them – although the Verstappen camp may feel Wache is the more significant technical figure.

If Wache remains of interest to Ferrari though, and speculation persists that he could still move there, then Red Bull could be at risk of all its major assets being picked away at. Plus, Newey's departure could easily have the knock-on effect of making others in the team question the future.

Even if it was ‘only’ Newey who left, pushed through the exit door through a range of factors that had left him feeling Red Bull Racing is not what it once was – it would still be Newey who is leaving.

Few individuals have had his influence, even fewer have sustained that influence for so long. He is widely regarded as the greatest F1 designer of all time for a reason.

Losing that alone would be enough for this team to no longer be Red Bull as we know it.

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