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Adrian Newey exit could spark Red Bull exodus, predicts McLaren chief
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Adrian Newey exit could spark Red Bull exodus, predicts McLaren chief

The McLaren team principal, Zak Brown, has said Adrian Newey’s departure from Red Bull has ­instigated a spate of applications from Red Bull personnel to join McLaren and that the British designer may be only the first domino to fall in an exodus he has precipitated.

Newey, the most successful car designer of the modern era, announced on Wednesday he was ­leaving Red Bull after almost two decades with the team. On ­Thursday Red Bull’s world champion driver Max Verstappen ­said he would prefer that Newey was not going and that he had played an­ ­integral part in Red Bull’s success since the engineer joined the team in 2006, a year after they were formed.

Newey has reportedly been disquieted by the furore that has ­surrounded Red Bull since the team principal, Christian Horner, was accused of inappropriate ­behaviour by a female employee, a grievance that has since been dismissed but has been appealed against by the claimant.

Before this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, Brown suggested these circumstances would not have sat well with Newey, and that McLaren had since received applications from Red Bull employees, when asked if he was ­surprised Newey had left the team.

“Six months ago I would have been surprised but given everything that has gone on since the start of the year and knowing Adrian pretty well, he is a pretty high-integrity individual. I am not surprised he is moving on,” Brown said. “The stuff that is going on there is a bit destabilising, it is probably the first domino to fall and my guess is not the last based on the resumés that are flying around.”

In Miami Verstappen tried to play down the impact Newey’s departure would have, insisting on the strength of the technical design team at Red Bull, led by Pierre Waché and with head aerodynamicist, Enrico Balbo, who are both considered to have been ­instrumental in Red Bull’s recent success.

A Red Bull spokesperson denied there was any instability in the team. “In the past few months all our ­technical leadership team have signed long-term contracts ­committing to Red Bull Racing, so not sure what CVs Zak is referring to but, we don’t foresee any significant loss and certainly not the domino effect Zak is hoping for,” they said.

When asked to elaborate Brown insisted that when someone of ­Newey’s stature leaves a team it is bound to have a knock-on effect.

“We have seen an increase in CVs coming our way from the team,” he said. “Adrian is the most successful designer of all time and in addition to the technical [side] that he brings to the racing team, … people want to work for people like Adrian Newey and work ­alongside him. So they will be ­missing what he brings to the team from a pure technical point of view and then the leadership and the excitement ­people get from working with him will be missed.”

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Newey will be free to join another team early in 2025, in time to have an input into the design of the new generation of cars that will be used when the ­regulations change for the 2026 season. ­He has yet to make any comment on what his future plans will be but that he negotiated being able to leave Red Bull without seeing out a lengthy gardening leave period suggests his intent may be to continue in F1 and Ferrari are considered his most likely destination.

On Friday afternoon in Miami, which is hosting the sprint race format for the first time, Verstappen claimed pole position for the 100km dash which will take place on Saturday at noon, before qualifying for the GP in the afternoon at the Miami International Autodrome, on the circuit which winds its way round the Hard Rock stadium, home of Miami Dolphins.

Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc into second by a tenth of a second, despite almost losing the car on his final hot lap, with his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, in third. Lewis Hamilton, who had qualified in second for the sprint at the last round in China in wet conditions, was left floundering in the heat of Miami. He could manage only 12th, knocked out in Q2 in a Mercedes that was well off the pace, with his teammate, George Russell, in 11th.

Source: theguardian.com