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“I Was Quite Depressed”: Adrian Newey Makes Brutal Revelation as He Reveals Red Bull Heavily “Struggling”

Published Apr 15, 2024 | 9:08 AM EDT

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What a creation the RB19 was from Red Bull’s Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey and his team. The Milton Keynes outfit won 21 of 22 races in 2023, with Max Verstappen dominantly taking 19 of those victories. Consequently, Newey’s demand in the F1 market skyrocketed and rival teams attempted to poach him. Despite all the success and bravado of their drivers, Newey now reveals that he felt “depressed” before it all began.

When the 2022 regulations were implemented in F1, the pecking order massively changed. Mercedes lost all that they had while Red Bull ascended to and captured the top. However, according to Adrian Newey, for the engineers and technical staff, those regulations proved to be more “prescriptive” than promoting innovation, which left him feeling downcast.

“From a design point of view, I enjoy regulation changes, providing those regulation changes give a reasonable amount of freedom,” Newey told RN365. I must admit, when I first saw these current regulations, I was quite depressed by them. They looked extremely prescriptive,” he revealed. “Luckily, there was a bit of a relaxation towards the end. But actually, once we got into the detail, combined with that relaxation, there’s been a reasonable amount of freedom within them – as you saw particularly early in 2022, there were lots of different solutions,” he added.

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Eventually, the RB mastermind overcame his feelings, enabling Red Bull to display itself in all its glory. But come 2024, he believes that the Milton Keynes outfit is having trouble making further developments.

“They’re (all teams) starting to converge now, but we’re now into that sort of: ‘Okay, we’ve done some visual changes for this year’s car, but the principles are the same’, so the differences are reducing internally,” he added. “In our case, we’re struggling to find the gains, if you like, in terms of aero gains in percent per month, or whatever, are flattening, without doubt,” he said.

It is rather odd to hear from the most dominant team that they are “struggling” internally. Though the on-track performances indicate otherwise, the 2026 regulation could actually make them struggle.

Adrian Newey believes 2026 regulations emerged from F1’s “marketing people”

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With an aim to achieve Net Carbon Zero, F1 will up the ante in 2026 by radically changing the Power Units. Though it’ll produce the same 1000 horsepower, the majority production will shift to an electrical component. Fuel use will decrease and the push-to-pass button will return. F1 also plans to introduce ‘Active Aero’. This means that the configuration of cars will change at different parts of the circuit to maximize performance.

Max Verstappen has voiced on several occasions how he isn’t quite happy with the 2026 car on the simulator. He even critiqued the “active aero” component that F1 is developing, which is an opinion Adrian Newey also seems to hold.

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I guess it is what their (F1’s) marketing people said that we should be doing and I understand that: it’s potentially interesting because F1 can be a fast-track developer of technology,” the Briton said.

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Can Verstappen and Newey’s critical comments be taken at face value? Or is Red Bull verbally sandbagging before continuing to dominate F1 into 2026 and beyond? Let us know what you think!

Written by:

Yash Kotak

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Yash is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong passion for communicating through written word and a keen interest in the world of motorsports, he thoroughly enjoys being a fan of F1 and covering it for other fans. Ever since he watched the 'INSIDE TRACKS' episode covering the 2018 German Grand Prix, he has fallen in love with the intriguingly complex world of F1.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath