Adrian Newey: F1, boats and…road cars?

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As one of, if not the most, successful Formula One car designers in history, Adrian Newey has explained his view of the 2015 season with regards to the competitive level of Ferrari and Renault against their rival, Mercedes Benz. The diagnosis isn’t good if you’re a person looking for four teams battling it out for the championship:

“Can Renault and Ferrari get to Mercedes’ level? It’s going to be a very difficult challenge – and of course we don’t know where Honda are going to come in,”

Newey suggests there are possibilities to make grounds on a superior engine through chassis balance and aerodynamic design but the engine, as he states, is really the key component of not only Mercedes works team but for customer team, Williams F1, as well.

Newey was rumored to be nearly out the door to Ferrari until Red Bull Racing made a deal to keep him at the team with allowance for other projects of interest and while the 56-year-old genius is now looking at America’s Cup boat racing with Ben Ainslie, he says that it would be wrong to think he will be the main designer of the boat:

“It’s a parallel industry – the basic problems are all the same,” explained Newey. “But I’ve spent my whole career in motor-racing and it would very arrogant to think that l could be in charge of the design. We are consultants and I’m just starting to think of a few ideas and bits and pieces.”

That may be true and perhaps making a change from race cars to boats isn’t an easy step but intriguingly, Newey drops anchor on a move that may be more logical and could hold interest for him…road cars:

“Road cars could be an avenue in the future,” mused Newey. “I’m always sketching all kinds of things.”

If Newey is consulting for the America’s Cup boat and is also in a slightly removed role from Red Bull Racing’s program, I suspect he’ll want to be all in on something in the near future and perhaps road cars could be the thing.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would suspect that this very concept is what may have garnered interest and talks between Newey and Ferrari last year. Who better than Ferrari to offer a shot at designing supercars while gaining the benefit of also having F1’s most successful designer design your race cars? It’s unclear if Red Bull prevented the move or if Ferrari spoiled the scenario with its political coup and purge of executive management. I suspect Luca di Montezemolo was close to pulling off the move of the century only for it to be scuppered by Sergio Marchionne’s IPO desires and therefore, Newey remained at Red Bull. I am not sure Adrian, like many of us, likes unstable environments, political turmoil and unknown resources so staying put seems like a logical move and if Red Bull were trying hard to prevent the move, then the cash has to be good too.

That’s all conspiracy quibble on my part but if I were Ferrari, I would seriously reconsider speaking with Adrian knowing he’d like to possible design road cars as well. If they don’t, one has to wonder if Mercedes will?

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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