F1 design genius Adrian Newey to leave Red Bull in wake of Christian Horner scandal

F1 design genius Adrian Newey to leave Red Bull in wake of Christian Horner scandal

Adrian Newey, the design genius who has masterminded Red Bull’s current domination in Formula One, will leave the world champions in early 2025 and “seek new challenges” in the sport.

The 65-year-old, who has been at Red Bull since 2006, is the man praised for the current generation of Red Bull car that sees Max Verstappen dominating F1, with a fourth straight drivers’ title likely this year.

However, following reports last week that Newey had informally told Red Bull colleagues that he wanted to quit, the team confirmed today that their chief technical officer will leave the company at the start of 2025 and will “step back” from F1 this season.

Newey – who is on a reported £10m-a-year contract – is still expected to appear with the team at occasional race weekends, including the upcoming Miami Grand Prix. He is also working on Red Bull’s RB17 sportscar, a project he will continue until departing the team in 2025.

A Red Bull statement said: “The engineering supremo will step back from Formula One design duties to focus on final development and delivery of Red Bull’s first hypercar, the hugely anticipated RB17.

“We’d like to thank Adrian for our achievements in the time that we have worked together so far. He has been instrumental for us in achieving a remarkable seven Formula One drivers’ and six constructors’ championship titles, totalling 118 victories and 101 poles including the STR 2007 pole and victory.”

Newey said “now is an opportune moment” to “seek new challenges”. He added: “Ever since I was a young boy, I wanted to be a designer of fast cars. 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.”

Newey had a contract until the end of 2025 – signed last May – but is said to be unhappy with the current power struggle within the team, focused on team principal Christian Horner and long-term adviser Helmut Marko, in the wake of the scandal engulfing F1 boss Horner.

Now, Newey is set to leave early next year, with Ferrari the most likely destination for his services where he would potentially form a partnership with Lewis Hamilton in Italy in 2025. Aston Martin have also made a big-money offer.

Adrian Newy with Christian Horner (Getty)
Adrian Newy with Christian Horner (Getty)

The Red Bull power struggle stems from the investigation surrounding Horner’s alleged “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague. Horner denies the accusations and was cleared after an internal investigation, though the complainant – suspended on full pay – is currently appealing the verdict.

The situation has unearthed tension between Horner and Marko, with Verstappen and his father Jos said to be in Marko’s camp and Thai majority owner Chalerm Yoovidhya in Horner’s camp.

Reacting to the news, Horner said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

What Newey’s departure means for Verstappen’s future at Red Bull remains to be seen. The three-time world champion has a lucrative deal with the team until 2028 but has been linked with Mercedes in recent months in light of the Horner controversy. Verstappen has stated previously he would consider his future if Marko was forced out.

Design genius Adrian Newey will leave Red Bull after 19 years with the F1 team (Getty)
Design genius Adrian Newey will leave Red Bull after 19 years with the F1 team (Getty)

Newey was with Williams and McLaren prior to his time at Red Bull and revealed to the Beyond the Grid podcast last year that Ferrari have offered him a role three times, with a move in 1993 the most tempting.

“[Ferrari approached] me in my IndyCar days, which probably doesn’t count, then ’93 and famously in 2014,” he said. “The ’93 one was very tempting.”

However, Newey detailed that the breakdown of his first marriage – affected by his time in the United States with IndyCar – meant he opted against making a move to Maranello, Ferrari’s HQ in Italy, due to his second marriage.

Another advance in 2014, Newey admitted, was due to Red Bull’s engine issues at the start of Mercedes’ hybrid-era dominance.

Newey is said to be unhappy with the current power struggle involving Helmut Marko (left) and Christian Horner (right) (Getty)
Newey is said to be unhappy with the current power struggle involving Helmut Marko (left) and Christian Horner (right) (Getty)

“My discussions in 2013 with Ferrari were purely out of frustration,” Newey said. “I really didn’t want to leave but we were in this position where Renault hadn’t produced a competitive turbo hybrid engine.

“We went to see Carlos Ghosn [ex-Renault CEO] to try and put pressure on him to up the budget. Ghosn’s reply was, ‘Well I have no interest in Formula 1. I’m only in it because my marketing people say I should be’. That was such a depressing place to be.”

Asked if he regretted turning down Ferrari, Newey responded: “Emotionally, I guess, to a point. Yes. But just as, for instance, working with Fernando and Lewis would have been fabulous. But it never happened. It’s just circumstance sometimes, that’s the way it is.”

Newey has been involved in seven F1 drivers’ victories at Red Bull and looks set for an eighth with Verstappen already having won four out of five races this season. The Briton has won a total of 12 constructors’ championships with three different teams during his long and successful career in Formula One.