Adrian Newey's withdrawal from Red Bull and Formula One shakes the grid

His departure is a reminder of the transient nature of Formula One and of the impact the loss of a single key figure can have on a team.

Adrian Newey is a renowned British engineer and the Chief Technical Officer of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team. He is widely credited with designing the cars that have won 10 World Championships for the team, and his departure from the team has caused shockwaves in the racing world.

As of last weekend, Red Bull team announced that the 55-year-old Mr Newey is going to be stepping down from his role with the F1 team to focus on other 'projects'. Moreover, he will continue being a helping hand to the team through advising, mentoring Infinite Red Bull racing skills as they develop their Formula One cars over the next few seasons.

But no matter how hard the Red Bull team may try to convince him otherwise, Mr Newey's decision to spend some of his time and focus somewhere else is a big setback for them. Formula One racing is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year job. This means he is needed full time, not part-time. Records show that the team has been struggling for most of the 2014 season because of their lofty standards. Although the blame is more on the Renault engine, a loss of Newey is a big setback for them because he has developed a strong aerodynamic package.


Without the Stratford born engineer, Red Bull is doomed to lose their biggest advantage over other teams on the racetrack or grid. Highlighting Newey's importance is the point that Newey's ex-teams have not had nearly the same success following his withdrawal. In the 16 seasons as a designer for Williams and McLaren, the cars under his supervision managed to attain seven Drivers' Championships and six Constructors'. After he left, those teams have combined for one title, the Lewis Hamilton's 2008 Drivers' Championship for McLaren.

During that period, Newey added four Drivers' and four Constructors' titles to his resume, making it attractive. On the brighter side, there is one positive for Red Bull from Newey's decision, he is remaining part of the Red Bull family even though he will not be available full time. Until that was announced, there had been word in the grapevine that Ferrari team was trying to lure him to Maranello. 

Now with the new arrangement, even if Mr Newey is not completely focused on designing Red Bull's cars, at least he is also not focused on designing another team's cars. Going forward, the team principal Christian Horner said that they have tremendous strength and depth in the team and there is no plan to replace Mr Newey with anybody else. 

The depth is good, and it is safe to say that the team is still strong, but no designer in F1 is up to par with Newey's track record. It is not realistic to expect his departure to have no effect on Red Bull's performance. Two strong drivers, as well as virtually unlimited resources, should help support the team, but right now Mr Horner may be recalling the words of William Shakespeare who in his fabulous words of art in the book Timon of Athens says, "We have seen better days."

Newey has been with the Red Bull team almost since the team's inception, and the last four years, in particular, have been relatively going well. Now, Red Bull are suddenly faced with not having the best legit car on the grid and also preparing to lose the top designer in the sport. It is surely a hard time for them, questions pop-up on how the team will deal with such a challenge. Ferrari's dream team came to its demise in the mid-2000s, and the Scuderia has not been the same since. Now the question is will Red Bull follow their path, or that of Williams and McLaren, who have struggled to find championship glory in their post-Newey period?