Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer, has joined the list of featured speakers during the 4th annual Race Industry Week, Monday through Friday, Nov. 27-Dec. 1.
Widely considered among the most successful designers in Formula 1 history, cars designed and engineered by Newey havewon 11 Formula 1 constructors’ titles and propelled some of the sport’s most iconic racers to drivers’ championship success.
After studying aeronautics at Southampton University and following early stints with the Fittipaldi and March F1 teams, Newey first tasted success in the United States. His March sports car design won IMSA’s GTP class in 1983 and 1984, and his IndyCar chassis, the March 85C, won the CART championship and the Indy 500. The follow-up 86C won the CART title in 1986 and the Indy 500 in both ’86 and ’87 but F1 was calling, and after brief tenures with FORCE and March, Newey moved to Williams by 1990.
In partnership with Patrick Head, Newey won five constructors’ titles, creating the machinery that also allowed Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve to win the drivers’ world championship. After departing Williams at the end of 1996 he rounded off the decade with the 1998 constructors’ title and two drivers’ crowns for Mika Hakkinen for McLaren.
Adrian joined Red Bull Racing for the 2006 season with the aim of elevating the team to championship contention. Over the following three years a rigorous development programme brought incremental increases in competitiveness and podium finishes in each season. It was, however, the 2009 season that gave the design guru the opportunity he craved.
Comprehensive aerodynamic rule changes presented teams with a largely blank canvas and Adrian’s RB5 not only delivered six victories but proved to be an excellent development platform for a generation of Red Bull cars that would dominate the sport.
In 2010, the RB6 took the team’s first constructors’ title thanks to nine wins and 20 podiums. In addition, with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel, the drivers’ title was also secured. Over the following three seasons the Newey/Vettel combination would race to three more championship doubles.
Following the dawn of the 1.5-liter V6 turbo hybrid era and the resultant power-unite downturn in fortunes experienced by the team, Adrian stepped back from day-to-day racing matters though his influence was keenly felt in the design phase of each Red Bull car.
“We had a very good run from 2009 through to 2013. But with the change from the V8s to the hybrids our engine partner through those years was never able to provide a competitive unit,” he says. “However, with our partnership with Honda we had a power unit that was very close to benchmark, and that meant that if we could come up with a good chassis, we were in with a shot. And that in itself becomes very motivating.”
Adrian returned to full-time racing activity in 2019 and after seeing the RB15 race to three wins that year, he presided over the design of the RB16 that won two races and 13 podium finishes, Adrian’s final iteration of that car, the 16B took Max Verstappen to a hard won first championship title at the end of thrilling season.
Once again, though, it was the prospect of a clean sheet of paper that brought out the best in our Chief Technical Officer.
The most radical change in technical regulations in four decades brought about the return of ground effect cars, and as in 2009, Adrian and his design team exploited the opportunity of the fresh rules better than their rivals.
In the hands of defending world champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, the rapidly evolving RB18 proved to be an increasingly dominant force and after handing Verstappen 16 wins in 19 races, the Dutchman sealed his second drivers’ title. Two weeks later, at the U.S. Grand Prix, a 13th win gave the team its fifth constructors’ title and a remarkable 11th crown for Newey. The RB18 also gave the team its highest win total for a single season and the largest points total for a team in the history of the sport.