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Formula 1

Gary Anderson: Ferrari offers Newey what no one else can

by Gary Anderson
4 min read

From what we hear about Adrian Newey’s situation, we have to assume that there are some destabilising politics going on within the Red Bull Formula 1 team.

We know from what he's said before, whether it's in interviews or his book - How to Build a Car - that Adrian Newey doesn’t like being managed by the chief financial officer, or now probably even the cost cap restrictions. Regardless of the Christian Horner situation, both of these factors will put a dampener on his creativity.

The death of Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz probably increased the need to justify spending to the bean counters on Red Bull's automotive projects, which can be very expensive if you are coming into that market cold.

Newey has been a big earner for many years, so I can’t see him moving because someone offers him a big bag of dollars.

I also can't see why, if it's a change of scene that he wants, he would go to either Mercedes or Aston Martin.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari wins Australian Grand Prix 2024

Ferrari is F1 - it always has been and it still is. It has always had that commitment to success.

It might not have had the results that commitment deserved - with periods of dominance but plenty of long spells without titles, including the one it is in now that stretches back to the last constructors’ championship in 2008 - but that's not going to stop Ferrari taking its best shot.

After all, since taking over as team principal Fred Vasseur has made some big progress in ensuring the team focuses on delivering on track rather than the politics. He's made some big signings - not just Lewis Hamilton for next year but also of key technical personnel - and Newey would be the ideal way to cap all of that.

The records speak for themselves, but comparing Newey's record at the front in F1 with Ferrari’s reveals some interesting numbers.

This is comparing their successes from 1991 onwards, which was the year of the first race-winning car that Newey was fully involved in - the Williams FW14:

Ferrari v. Newey since 1991*

Ferrari - 139
Newey - 219

Ferrari - 139
Newey - 217 

Drivers' titles
Ferrari - 6
Newey - 13

Constructors' titles
Ferrari - 8
Newey - 12

*Newey stats based on Williams 1991-1997, McLaren 1998-2005 and Red Bull 2006-2024 - so includes all cars he created even if he left a team while it was still using that car

What's remarkable is how much better Newey's record is in this period than Ferrari’s even though it includes the legendary period of Ferrari/Michael Schumacher dominance at the start of this century.

Williams, McLaren and Red Bull all had a winning mentality, at least during Newey’s period of employment, so driver-wise they have had at least one of the best in that era in their cars. Right now he's relentlessly increasing his tally of wins, pole positions and world championships with Red Bull.

If the rumours are true and Newey is off, then any discussions with Ferrari will have taken place with its very highest levels. It won’t have been a quick chat in the pitlane with Vasseur, it will have been at the big desk with chairman John Elkann and behind him would be a picture of a smiling Enzo Ferrari. Newey and Ferrari would have got on exceptionally well.

Ferrari is already in the supercar market and has been for a long time. You can therefore see why there would be great appeal in a three-year deal for Newey to join Ferrari not only to initially oversee its F1 project but also to create the ultimate supercar. That would be very attractive to both parties. I'd love to see what Ferrari road car he could come up with given a clean sheet of paper - save for the simple Ferrari Cavallino Rampante logo in the bottom left-hand corner.

Regardless of the contract, heading to Ferrari would be a job for life. Newey could name his price and Ferrari will pay because both in the F1 and supercar market there is no one more capable of bringing it the success it lives for.

Ferrari's stock market value shot up when it signed Hamilton, albeit also because of an earnings announcement made at the same time, and the same could happen with Newey. If anything, the value he adds is vastly more than even Hamilton can, certainly on track given he will be able to ensure it has a car capable of winning races. The excitement about a Newey/Ferrari supercar might even rival Hamilton’s commercial value off-track.

It’s never all about one person, but one individual needs to steer the ship through troubled waters. For me the big question is: of the three F1 teams who could probably afford Newey, which would he pick? If it was me, I would take a nanosecond to make that decision and the answer would be Ferrari.

And even if it went wrong, as it has for so many at Ferrari in the past, you could take the advice F1 design great Harvey Postlethwaite once gave after his time there. He said: write what you're earning on a piece of paper and put it in your top desk drawer, so when things get tough you can open it and glance at it.

The money might not motivate Newey, but the chance not just to turn around Ferrari’s F1 fortunes but also create the ultimate supercar might be something he just can’t refuse.

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