Adrian Newey's exit from Red Bull could have a domino effect that turns F1 around | Red Bull

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The loss of a top designer could be devastating for Christian Horner and shake up the status quo in the sport.

“I always try to paint with passion. In other words, I have to believe that what I'm painting will take me to the next step,” says Adrian Newey in his 2017 book, “How to Build a Car”. With his announcement that he will be leaving Red Bull next year, it appears he is now seeking a new challenge, a development that could have far-reaching implications for F1 as a whole.

As the most successful designer of the modern era, with 12 constructors' championship-winning cars for three different teams, Newey is perhaps the most popular non-top driver in the F1 paddock. Many believe that he is a much more important factor for success than the driver.

With Red Bull alone he returned seven drivers' titles and six constructors' titles. The scale of this achievement cannot be overestimated. He joined the team in 2006 and was poached from McLaren by team principal Christian Horner in what was seen as a major coup.

Formed from the struggling Jaguar team in 2005, it won its first title with Sebastian Vettel in 2010, and went on to achieve even greater success, especially with Max Verstappen winning the title three times in the past three years. It was an extraordinary feat.

Newey was the central figure. Although modern cars are no longer designed by one person, this British designer remains an outlier in that he was actually involved in the development of the car and still actually hand-draws elements and ideas. I am. He avoided the limelight, preferring instead to let his work speak for itself, and his work has been passed down to many people.

Soft-spoken, thoughtful and reflective, he had a genius for interpreting and exploiting the labyrinthine arcane of F1 regulations to create cars that were often uncontrollably fast. His talent is even more sought after now than it was in 2006, and it seems likely that he will join Lewis Hamilton in turning around Ferrari's fortunes in 2025. If they choose, the Scuderia will have something of an F1 dream team.

However, his departure would be a seismic shift for Red Bull and Horner. Newey said in his memoirs that Horner and he shared the team's ideology, and that this was a key factor for Newey to remain at Red Bull, despite other teams trying to lure him away numerous times. He writes that the relationship between the two is thought to have been the key. His decision to leave suggests that the relationship may have broken down.

Newey are reportedly worried by the furore surrounding allegations of inappropriate behavior against Horner, with team principals asking technical director Pierre Washet to discuss design issues, although the complaints were dismissed after an investigation. He is also thought to be disillusioned with the way his contributions were downplayed when he was given a role. . Last year, Mr. Horner suggested that Mr. Newey could be replaced, a move that went unpopular with everyone, with the designer's wife branding the comment “trolling.”

Verstappen at the wheel of the RB20, Newey's latest victory. Photo: Lingtao Zhang/Getty Images

This problem has been resolved in the past, but the passage of time may also be a factor. Newey, 65, has said he wants to work for Hamilton and Ferrari, and if he chooses to go now he could still do well at Maranello, in what could be the last big challenge of his F1 career.

The question now for Horner is whether this will be a breaking point. Already embroiled in a power struggle with Red Bull's parent company, Red Bull GmbH, he is currently supported by Chalam Yuvidya, the company's majority shareholder, but losing Newey will leave him with a significant impact in 2026. The position will further weaken ahead of major regulatory changes scheduled for 2020.

New Way may just be the first domino to fall. Verstappen, whose future with the team is already in doubt, said the team's core pillars should remain in place. Newey is one of them, with the Dutchman already receiving offers from other teams, particularly Mercedes, to replace Hamilton.

Washe is well-qualified to step up to replace Newey, but he is believed to be pursued by Ferrari as well as aerodynamics chief Enrico Balbo, with Red Bull likely to be the more major player. There is a risk of losing assets and leaving Horner in a dangerous condition. Exposure.

At least for now, Red Bull's dominance is not threatened. Newey's RB20 will return for his 13th title this season, but his eyes, and those of the rest of the players on the field, are now firmly on 2026.

Ferrari has not won the drivers' title since 2007 and the constructors' title since 2008, marking a painful drought for the Scuderia. Under Fred Vasseur, they are assembling perhaps their strongest lineup in recent years. Bringing Newey into the team to take the next step could mean returning them to the top step at the expense of Red Bull.

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