Horner: Newey ‘within half an hour’ of leaving Red Bull for Ferrari

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Ferrari made several attempts to secure the services of Adrian Newey over the years, but in 2014, Red Bull’s legendary designer came within half an hour of leaving Milton Keynes for Maranello as Christian Horner remembers.

Newey is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in Formula 1 history, having designed championship-winning cars for Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull.

His innovative and groundbreaking designs have helped to shape the sport's technical landscape. And as one of the most talented engineers of his generation, Newey has always been hot property.

In 2014, the Briton came remarkably close to joining Ferrari, the most prestigious and successful team in F1 history.

The Scuderia had been struggling to compete with Red Bull in recent years, and they believed that Newey's expertise could help them regain their dominance.

At the time, Red Bull was also in an unexpected slump due to the team’s struggles with its new down-on-power hybrid engine from Renault.

The stars were lining up for Ferrari and Newey, with a sensational and massively lucrative deal all but signed and sealed between the two parties.

Speaking on the Eff Won with DRS podcast, Horner explained how he stepped in at the last minute to convince Newey to remain with the Red Bull family.

“We went from winning ‘10, ‘11, ‘12, ‘13 - four on the bounce - and then a massive regulation change to the engine,” he recounted. “Our engine supplier completely missed the target.

“At that point, Sebastian Vettel leaves because of the engine. Adrian came very close to leaving. He was about half-an-hour…”

Ferrari’s incentive package for Newey included a residency in tax-free Monte Carlo from where he would travel on a daily basis to Maranello.

“Ferrari came hard for him,” added Horner. “And they promised him the world - ‘you can have a Hollywood lifestyle, fly into the factory from Monaco every day, not pay any tax, you can design a road car…’

“I managed to persuade him to stay by saying: ‘We will do a road car, if you want to do a road car then we will do a road car!’

“He said: ‘How?’

“I said: ‘I have no idea but we will find a way, we will make it happen’.”

The details of Red Bull’s offer are not publicly known, but it is believed to have included a significant pay increase and more autonomy in the team’s design department.

And Horner eventually convinced Red Bull’s commercial partner Aston Martin to commit to a hypercar project spearheaded by Newey.

“Through the relationship we had with Aston Martin, I went to their CEO and said: ‘We have arguably the best designer of all time, you are a great brand, we aren’t going to finance the car but it makes sense to bring these things together’.

“Literally in a pub in England, that’s how it happened.

“It enabled Adrian to fulfil his ambition and kept him in the team. It wasn’t losing sight that, if we could just sort the engine issue, we’d be back in a winning position.”

Newey's decision to stay with Red Bull was a major coup for the team, and it helped them to maintain their success in the years that followed.

However, Ferrari's inability to secure Newey's services is widely seen as a missed opportunity.

The product of Newey’s efforts and engineering genius was the Aston Martin Valkyrie, a design that took F1 technology to the road.

But more importantly, Newey steered Red Bull back on the right track following its switch to Honda power in 2019, with the team claiming consecutive Drivers’ titles in 2021, 2022 and 2023 with Max Verstappen, and a pair of Constructors’ Championships in 2022 and 2023.

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