Red Bull stunned by shock news F1’s top designer Adrian Newey is to leave

Red Bull’s chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, is expected to leave the team, it has been reported. Newey is the most successful designer of the modern Formula One era and has been an instrumental part of Red Bull’s success but is said to have become uncomfortable with his ­position at the team since the team principal, Christian Horner, was cleared after an investigation into accusations of inappropriate behaviour by a female employee.

The 65-year-old Newey has been with Red Bull since 2006, only one year after the team was formed. He has since designed cars that have won seven drivers’ titles and six constructors’ championships for Red Bull and his talents have long been sought after by rivals across the paddock. Losing him would be an enormous blow to the team.

After the reports, Red Bull have insisted Newey is contracted until at least the end of 2025 and the team are “not aware of him joining any other team”.

If he departs, though, it would represent a serious threat to the team keeping the world champion, Max Verstappen. The Dutchman’s future with Red Bull is already under question although he is contracted until 2028 but the loss of Newey would represent serious cause for him to consider a new course.

Newey is understood to have been disquieted by the events at Red Bull that have overshadowed the racing this year. Before the season began Horner was investigated by Red Bull’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, after an employee made ­allegations of coercive and ­controlling behaviour.

Horner has always denied any wrongdoing and the ­grievances against him were dismissed by the independent investigation. However, the complainant has launched an appeal and is expected to take the case to an employment tribunal should that be unsuccessful.

Red Bull have yet to make any comment on the reports of Newey’s departure, initially made by the German publication Auto Motor und Sport.

View image in fullscreen Christian Horner with Max Verstappen. Horner has been investigated by Red Bull’s parent company over allegations made by an employee. Photograph: PA Wire/PA

The team has been in turmoil ever since the allegations against Horner became public. There has been a power struggle taking place between Horner and elements of Red Bull GmbH since the death of the company’s co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz. It has also put ­Verstappen’s father, Jos, and the director of ­motorsport, Helmut Marko, at odds with the team principal. In March, Verstappen’s father said Horner was in danger of “tearing the team apart”.

Horner has been backed, however, by the parent company’s majority shareholder, Chalerm Yoovidhya. Since the grievance was dismissed the team principal has insisted that Red Bull, who have won four out of five races this season, are once more unified and not undergoing an internal conflict.

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Newey has enjoyed an enormously successful career in F1. His cars took five titles with Williams in the early 90s and two with McLaren in the late 90s. Persuading him to come to Red Bull was considered one of the most astute decisions Horner made and no small coup. The team won four drivers’ and constructors’ doubles between 2010 and 2013 and have won the past three drivers’ titles and two more constructors’, with Verstappen already on course to take another this season.

Earlier this year Ferrari were understood to have been pursuing Newey, who has said that he would have liked to work with the Scuderia and with Lewis Hamilton, who will join them next season. Aston Martin are understood to have made a play for him this season. Mercedes have been clear that they would like to poach Verstappen and would pursue Newey with equal zeal, especially as it would doubtless make the Dutchman more conducive to joining them.

Red Bull have said Newey is already heavily involved in designing their RB17 supercar, a role believed to have been instrumental persuading him to stay at the team. At the Chinese GP Verstappen said he would not be leaving but emphasised the atmosphere at the team was an important consideration

“I signed a long deal with the team,” he said. “The only thing I said from the beginning is we want to have a peaceful environment, lately we have been talking about the car. I am happy about that, I am happy with the team and there has never been a reason to leave.”

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