Adrian Newey is considered one of the most successful Formula 1 designers of all time. The 59-year-old has designed no less than ten world champion cars. In this respect, it is not surprising that over the years he has repeatedly received offers from competition teams. Including Mercedes. Even Ferrari tried to acquire his services, if not for Michael Schumacher.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had a secret meeting in Maranello with Ferrari personnel manager Mario Mairano. “The suspicion suggests that this is an attempt to get indirectly to the services of star designer Adrian Newey,” the news.
Five years later, Newey’s book first publishes publicly on the secret negotiations: “I went to Italy to meet with Luca Montezemolo, then president of Ferrari, in his Tuscan country estate, we negotiated seriously, the offer was surprisingly generous, Luca I wanted to entrust the entire brand to Ferrari – sports cars and racing cars. ”
“I could have taken on the lifestyle of a movie star and garnered a tremendous salary, far more than double the already generous I received at Red Bull,” he recalls. Eventually he stayed with Red Bull, because all his considerations were “one simple realisation”: “I did not want to leave Red Bull.”
It was Ferrari’s second attempt to secure Newey’s services for Formula One. At the beginning of 1995 Jean Todt was rebuilding the Scuderia. Before Michael Schumacher was hired by Benetton (Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne), Todt tried to get Newey to Maranello. He had just fallen out with Frank Williams and Patrick Head.
“Ferrari was in contact with me,” writes Newey. “Jean Todt joined the Maranello team as Sport Director from the Peugeot World Rally Team, and for the second time, I made a secret visit to Ferrari, the first being in 1985 when she offered me design leadership for a new Ferrari-based IndyCar. Project they were considering at the time. ”
“We were picked up at Bologna airport and unobtrusively taken to Jean’s cottage, where Gerhard Berger and others were waiting for us.” Jean was looking for a new technical director and offered attractive conditions, “said Newey. The conversation was positive – to a critical point: “But then he wanted to know what I think of Michael Schumacher, they wanted to recruit him for the 1996 season.”
“I was not really into that, Schumacher was definitely a driver the competition had to fear, and probably the best at the time, but I had not forgotten Imola and the conversation with Ayrton, who had been sure Schumacher had one. It would have been almost irreverent to work for Michael so soon after Ayrton’s death. ”
Ayrton Senna, then at Newey’s Williams team, had expressed at the Imola weekend in 1994, a few hours before his death, concerns that Schumacher and Benetton with a then prohibited traction control tricks. Schumacher was for Williams the avowed archrival, Newey also friends with his nemesis Damon Hill.
Joining Ferrari would have meant a move to Maranello, and Newey did not want to risk his marriage for it. About ten years earlier, the marriage to his first wife Amanda had failed because he had moved to the USA due to an IndyCar engagement.
So Newey signed in June 1995, a three-year contract with Williams. Under two conditions: “Frank and Patrick assured me that I would participate appropriately in all business decisions in the future and that I got my salary increase as well.”