The Secret Diary of Adrian Newey Aged 53¾: Sulky Teenager

Saturday 8th February 2014


The RB 10 comes over all teenage

The RB 10 comes over all teenage

Well trusty tome, it really is back to the drawing board for this pesky new set of regulations and the little tinker of the RB10. After 21 laps of Jerez in four days many of the mechanics have made suggestions about what the RB stands for - the first letter being Right, with a goodly variety of suggestions for the letter B. None of which I would care to repeat in print.

Deary deary me (and almost double crikey), I have never been to such a depressing test, with so little achieved. Even when McLaren decided to fit aero parts on their car upside down last year they got more done than we did. And the ironic thing is that when they set their car up incorrectly it went faster, unlike ours which just sat in the garage flashing warning lights and refusing to cooperate.

In a rare moment of levity afterwards I said to Jana that perhaps we should nickname it 'the sulky teenager' but as she logically pointed out. It's only ten.

It doesn't help when Renault haven't got their act together and are busy passing 'le buck' to the teams. I seem to be taking most blame for the kerfuffle, along with my love for neat aero packaging. The press seem to have latched onto this as a central foible of mine - as though no other designer on the grid even thinks about it, which is most irksomely irritating.

Autosport even ran a feature this week, 'When Newey Got It Wrong' listing the handful of cars that I've designed that haven't turned out satisfactorily. The title was unnecessarily dramatic, almost on the lines of 'When Good Cats Go Bad'. In amongst the list of my woeful designs was the Williams FW16 which picked up a constructors championship. The feature really got my dander up. Quite frankly I don't need to be reminded by some donut-munching keyboard jockeys about the cars I've designed that have been slightly below par. All three of them.

As the good lady has oft pointed out, the only time I get it seriously wrong is when I'm allowed to go clothes shopping on my own and return with items such as velvet trousers and tweed underpants. Which seemed like a good idea at the time... It turns out that whenever I stray beyond items from Blue Harbour I get into trouble. My idea of 'raffish' can be interpreted as something entirely different. Most unfortunate.

One thing I am proud of on the new car is our nose. Goodness gracious the launches at Jerez were less about showing off the new car and more about checking out each other's equipment - down there. It was like the showers after games in the first year at secondary school. Caterham would definitely get the flicked wet towel treatment for theirs. Jeremy Clarkson did a hilarious take on the "new noses" in the first Top Gear, which is watched by many at the factory.

I know it's only Last of the Summer Wine with cars, but I particularly liked the feature they did on hot hatchbacks and the Volkswagen Golf. One of the dreadfully irritating aspects of the old Golf advert on television in the 1990s was a particularly anal German engineer - let's call him Norbert - who loved the way his door closed. And so Jeremy deliberately got a Golf whose front door wouldn't close first time. Some may not have got the joke but I found it most rib ticklesome.

One thing that has been seized upon by the geriatric F1 fans is the lack of a throaty roar from the new 1.6 litre engines. Obviously we weren't in a position to produce a throaty purr, or a rorty torty turbo whistle in Jerez, let alone a throaty roar but I cannot for the life of me understand what people don't like about the new sound. The thing to complain about is getting 5000 volts pumped through your chief mechanic, not the noise it makes when it comes tonking down the main straight with an eerie turbo woosh

You don't get people at air shows complaining that the new advanced fighter jets don't make the sound of the old Spitfire. Or that the speed of the jets is very impressive, but it would be so much better if they could sync the vision with the sound.

If Bernie really wanted it to be like the old days we could put some straw bales in front of the TechPro barriers, swill a bucket of Castrol GTX over every garage floor in the pitlane, and get the drivers' girlfriends to fill in timecharts on the pitwall.

Anyway, I'll have to sign off as I have a troublesome teenager to deal with. Melbourne is still a prodigiously long way away and with the aid of the house beverage and some all-nighters we can get this fixed. I have noted many times the comments of my acerbic Slavic PA, Jana, who often chides me for my obsession with putting endless data into the simulator. On my return from Jerez she said to me. "Are you going to put engine data into simulator or do you want me to do it? I've got three minutes."

If the problems with the car weren't enough to give me sleepless nights I'm also having trouble with our expensive new Eider duck duvet. Christian caught me in a corridor the other day and told me I had rings under my eyes.I explained that we'd bought this new duvet but it wasn't staying on the bed.

"You know what your problem is Adrian," said Christian, smiling his slow, easy smile. "Not enough downforce..."

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