Adrian Newey

Adrian Newey

26/12/1958

Currently the technical director of the McLaren Formula One team, but will move to Red Bull Racing in February 2006. Newey has worked in both Formula One and Indycar racing as a race engineer, aerodynamicist, designer and technical director and enjoyed success in both categories. Considered one of the best engineers in Formula One, Newey inspired designs have won numerous titles and almost 80 grand prix, dominating much of the 1990s. After almost leaving McLaren in 2001 speculation persisted that he did not wish to remain at the Woking-based team. In November 2005 it was confirmed that he would be transferring to Red Bull Racing in the new year. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Newey gained a First Class honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Southampton University in 1980. Immediately after graduation he began working in motor sport for the March team. After a period as race engineer for Johnny Cecotto in European Formula 2 Newey began designing racing cars. His first project, the March GTP sports car, was a highly successful design and won the IMSA title two years running. In 1983 Newey moved to the March Indycar project and began work on the 1984 car. Again, his design proved highly competitive taking seven victories including the coveted Indy 500. Newey's 85C chassis took the CART title the following year in the hands of Al Unser, and his reputation as an outstanding designer was sealed when Bobby Rahal repeated this success in 1986. Working in the dual roles of designer and race engineer Newey formed a close friendship with Rahal, a fact which would impact both their careers some fifteen years later. With his cars regularly winning CART races Newey chose to leave March and return to Europe where he could work in Formula One joining the FORCE team in an effort to improve their fortunes. Sadly the team withdrew at the conclusion of the 1986 season and Newey was immediately re-hired by March, this time to work in Formula One as chief designer. In a period where Formula One car aerodynamics was still poorly understood Newey was able to innovate. His 1988 effort was far more competitive than many expected, even leading the Japanese Grand Prix briefly, although critics suggested his quest for aerodynamic perfection had compromised the team in other areas. As March became Leyton House, Newey gained promotion to the role of Technical Director. Despite having arguably the best designer in the sport the team's results began to decline and, in the summer of 1990, Newey was fired, although he didn't have to wait long to find alternate employment. In 1990 Williams F1 was undoubtedly a team on the ascent and formidable technical director Patrick Head wasted no time in getting a contract signed. With vastly superior budget, drivers and resources at his disposal, Newey and Head rapidly became the dominant design partnership of the early 1990s. By mid-season 1991 Newey's FW14 chassis was every bit a match for the previously dominant McLaren, and only early season reliability issues and the genius of Ayrton Senna prevented Williams team leader, Nigel Mansell, from taking the title. In 1992 there would be no problems, and with dominance of the sport not repeated until the Ferrari / Schumacher age, Mansell took the drivers crown and Newey secured his first constructors title. 1993 delivered a second, this time with Alain Prost at the wheel of the conquering FW15. 1994 saw a rare dip in performance for Newey designed cars and the team and drivers struggled to match the Rory Byrne designed Benetton B194 for pace and reliability. Disaster struck at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix with the death of Ayrton Senna who had joined Williams that year. Despite a late-season charge, helped by the suspension of Schumacher, Williams were unable to take a third consecutive drivers title, and with possible manslaughter charges for Senna's accident in prospect, cracks began to show in Newey's relationship with Williams team management. By 1995 it was clear that Adrian Newey was once more ready to become technical director of a team, but with Head a share-holding founder of Williams he found his way blocked. Loss of both drivers and constructors titles to Benetton in 1995 saw further distance put between Newey and Williams, and by the time Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve secured both titles in 1996 Newey had been placed on "gardening leave" prior to joining McLaren. Unable to influence the design of the 1997 McLaren, Newey was forced to attempt to improve on the Neil Oatley design while concentrating his efforts on the 1998 car. A win at the 1997 European Grand Prix saw McLaren enter the off-season on a high, and when the racing resumed four months later the McLaren MP4/13 was the car to beat. Titles followed in 1998 and 1999, and Mika Häkkinen narrowly missed out on a third drivers title in 2000. At the end of the 1990s Newey stood head and shoulders above his peers with 6 of the previous 10 constructors titles and sixty-seven wins having been secured by cars of his design. Few would have suspected that five years later Newey cars would have just 15 more victories and no titles. In the summer of 2001 came one of the most significant moves of the season when Bobby Rahal, now retired from driving and managing the Jaguar team, tried to steal Newey away from McLaren in an attempt to leap Jaguar Racing to the front of the field. Despite having a signed contract Rahal was unable to complete the deal when McLaren boss Ron Dennis persuaded Newey to stay. Details of how exactly he managed this remain vague, although suggestions of a deal allowing Newey to design yachts appeared in the racing media. His change of mind effectively destroyed Rahal's credibility with Jaguar owners Ford, and he was fired from the team several months later. Despite remaining with McLaren, rumours persisted that Newey wanted to leave the team, and by late 2004 his future began to look uncertain when speculation began that the engineer could return to Williams or even leave the sport completely. Despite strenuous denials from Ron Dennis stories continued to circulate during the 2004/2005 off-season that Newey's departure was imminient. In April 2005 it was confirmed that his contract with the team had been extended by six months to the end of the year at which point he was expected to take a sabbatical or retire from Formula One design completely, but on 19 July instead he stated that "this step can wait" and he will remain with McLaren for the year 2006.

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