Mark Webber owes his nine wins in Formula One to Adrian Newey…after all, it is Newey’s cars that Mark drove to victory in. Well, you could also add Mark’s wonderful driving skills, the teams strategy and all the fine folks at Red Bull Racing but the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to Newey’s influence in F1.
In terms of championships, Adrian Newey has collected nine Constructor’s Championships and nine driver’s Championships. It’s an incredible record that represents the genius that is Adrian Newey. Mark Webber is aware of the genius and says that Adrian adds an element that you need to achieve success in F1:
“We need, behind all the smoke and mirrors of a Formula 1 team, to make a racing car as quick as possible to do the business in qualifying and the races.
“Adrian never loses sight of that and he’s a huge influence.
“You have him beating the drum and generally being a big beacon for the team here in terms of design and philosophy of where the car needs to be. You need that to be successful here.
“And when you start getting some success as well things change so quickly. Things becomes much easier.”
Mark’s comments are interesting for a couple of reasons. Red Bull admitted that the regulation changes caught them out in 2012 as team boss Christian Horner said:
“There was a big regulation change where the exhaust effect was reduced dramatically, and that particularly had a significant impact on our car because arguably our use of exhaust gases was more advanced than other teams,” Horner said.
“So it took a while to understand that, and that combined with a different tyre took Adrian and his team time to get his head around.
“But they relentlessly stuck at it and the performance came.”
A secret to the RB7’s success was the exhaust and blow diffuser and when that changed, the team had to really find another area to claw back the loss of such downforce. This is where Webber’s comment makes sense. When you have such a dominant baseline for a car, the evolution becomes easier and the subtle changes can be additive to the overall package. Sure, they can take away from the package too but that’s where Newey comes in.
The key, it appears to me, is to find that baseline that you can build from. McLaren have also done a tremendous job of it as well and you also have to consider Ferrari’s woes in early 2012 and what they achieved by summer’s end.
Finding an additional 3/10’s for the RB8 is no easy task and it’s often been said that finding pace if you are 4 seconds off the sharp end of the grid is easier than finding a few tenths if you are battling amongst the leaders such as McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull. That’s another reason that Lotus F1’s success in 2012 is such a great story as well.
In the end, Adrian Newey’s impact on Formula One is massive and Webber knows he’s the magic bullet that has made Red Bull what it is. Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn has always said that you can’t get animated over your drivers until you give them a car that can win…until then, what’s the use in beating the driver up for placing 15th in a car that can’t compete? It brings to light the issue of Webber’s performance in 2012 and the resurgence of Sebastian Vettel mid-year. The team gave both drivers a car that could win…Newey usually does where ever he goes.
Newey like regulation changes as it adds a new window for innovation and has said that he should have left McLaren earlier than he did when the regulations changed in the early 2000’s. In fact, he nearly did leave for Jaguar but decided to remain at McLaren. Ironically the Jaguar team would eventually become Red Bull Racing. Could the large regulation change for 2014 prompt Newey to seek a new challenge with another team? Mercedes have been sniffing around as to how much time is left on Newey’s contract and there is little doubt that any team on the grid would love for Adrian to grace their halls.
As dominant as he has been in Formula 1, there are a few who have beat him…namely Rory Byrne who gave Ferrari seven titles with Michael Schumacher at the wheel. IS there another designer that can take the fight to Newey? IS there a young engineering star that, like Newey, will take over the mantle of being F1’s newest legend? Newey has been this era’s Colin Chapman, who will be the next era’s Adrian Newey?