The fall of the Red Bull empire? What Newey’s exit means for Horner and Verstappen

Sam Cooper
Adrian Newey and Christian Horner

Adrian Newey's departure raises a lof of questions for Red Bull

For 18 of the 19 years of Red Bull’s existence, Adrian Newey and his drawing board have been inside their Milton Keynes HQ.

The legendary designer, who built his reputation at Williams and McLaren before moving to Red Bull in 2006, is one of the pillars of the team alongside Christian Horner.

An ever-present since then, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are the eighth and 11th drivers respectively that Newey has designed cars for.

So what next? Losing Newey, despite Red Bull’s attempts to soften the blow of this inevitable move, will be a monumental shift in the trajectory of the team, the only question is how well will they recover?

It also comes at a time of extreme uncertainty within the team. The Horner investigation leading into the season has seemingly set the mood to ultra-tense at any given moment and a move like this could further rock the apple cart.

While little has been leaked from inside the walls of Milton Keynes, almost everyone has had an opinion on the situation. The chief critics amongst them, such as Jos Verstappen and Ralf Schuamcher, have demanded Horner’s head, suggesting that him at the helm will lead to the team crumbling at a time of extreme dominance.

In his leaving statement, Newey thanked Horner and described him as “a friend of our respective families” but the likes of Schumacher will pay little attention to that, instead suggesting that is the beginning of the end for one of the most successful F1 teams of the 21st Century.

Newey’s departure also raises far more questions than it answers. While the statement confirmed he would depart in the first quarter of 2025, no mention was made of what comes next.

If retirement was the choice, that surely would have been mentioned and the fact he will no longer be working with the F1 technical team would suggest Red Bull are not willing to share any new secrets with a potential rival.

Newey’s career has just about every accolade you could ask for but there has always been one challenge he has avoided – Ferrari. The relocation from his UK home was often put forward as his reasoning behind several denials over the years but Fred Vasseur is building something of an F1 super group and Italian media  has reported he met with Newey in London a day before his big announcement was made public. recommends

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Ferrari remains the ultimate challenge for anyone in F1 and at 65 and looking at presumably his last role in the sport, Newey may finally have been tempted to move to the F1 team.

But away from Newey, there are more questions to be answered, not least what this means for Horner, Verstappen and Red Bull. French engineer Pierre Wache, who joined Red Bull in 2013, has been groomed as Newey’s successor but 2025 will be his first real test before the sweeping regulations of 2026 arrive.

Like many empires that came before, Red Bull’s downfall was always likely to come from within rather than elsewhere given their extreme dominance over the grid. The team that Horner has been building since 2005 has now lost arguably its most key component. Drivers come and go but designers like Newey are far more rare and far more valuable.

There is also the question of what this means for Max Verstappen. Until now, rumours of a move to Mercedes appeared unrealistic given the Dutchman is only ever keen on winning but now he will be asking if Red Bull are the ones most likely to give him the best chance of victory. That is a question that is being asked for the first time since 2022.

It is crucial now more than ever for Red Bull to keep a hold of Verstappen as they cannot afford to lose two valuable assets in quick succession.

To do that, they must prove to him that they can be the frontrunners once again in 2026 but that is a task with a lot of variables for Red Bull as it stands.

Designing a new car for a regulation set is one thing but Red Bull are attempting to go it alone with their engine, facing competition from five other far more established PU suppliers.

As we head to Miami, that question will surely be put to both Horner and Verstappen and while they will bat it away with their media-trained capabilities, it is one both will be asking themselves behind closed doors.

Read next: Adrian Newey explains the main reason behind stunning Red Bull departure