Five reasons why Adrian Newey returning to McLaren F1 team makes little sense

Sam Cooper
Adrian Newey and the McLaren logo

Adrian Newey is the most wanted man in F1.

Eddie Jordan may have sparked the latest round of rumours but Adrian Newey to McLaren does not make much sense at all.

It is not often F1 media draws from a yacht maker’s YouTube channel for their sources but this week, Newey and manager Jordan appeared on the Oyster Yachts channel recorded during the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.

In the clip, Jordan praised Newey’s cycling skills and said the next contract they receive will include a better bike. In saying that, he also appeared to let slip that it would be “from Zak”. Jordan, a skilled communicator and one who, shall we say, has been known to fan the flames of a few rumours may well be playing tricks on the media but we are going to tell you why Newey returning to his old team is unlikely to ever happen.

Adrian Newey has been there, done that at McLaren

Let’s start with that point shall we? While Newey has arguably become associated with Red Bull more than any other team in his past, before he moved to Milton Keynes he was at the heart of the McLaren operation.

He moved to Woking in 1997 and helped design two Championship-winning cars in the MP4/13 and MP4/14 so at the age of 65, would he really want to go back to something he has already experienced?

Yes McLaren has transformed massively since Newey walked out the door in 2005 but him deciding to go back there seems far less likely than him opting for a new adventure at Ferrari or even away from F1.

Adrian Newey arrival would require McLaren to rip up carefully crafted technical team

Of the 10 technical teams on the grid, it is arguably McLaren who have put the most thought into the structure of it.

After an underwhelming launch last season, they ripped up the playbook and replaced James Key’s role with three technical chiefs and that design came into force this year, albeit with some further modifications.

Newey’s former colleague Rob Marshall was one of the key arrivals and former Ferrari chief David Sanchez’s departure almost as soon as he arrived showed that McLaren have a way they want to do things and are going to stick to it.

Bringing in Newey would only disrupt that and likely leave Marshall frustrated in his role. Newey may be one of the greatest minds in F1 history but he is also nine years older than Marshall and more likely to retire sooner than the current McLaren design chief, so the team would be smart to stick with what they have got.

Adrian Newey is unlikely to find Red Bull level of freedom at McLaren

It is no secret that as well as designing F1 cars, Newey likes to dabble in road cars as well.

Christian Horner was able to prevent one of Ferrari’s many approaches for Newey by telling him that he could design a road car with Red Bull, which ultimately became the Aston Martin Valkyrie, and Newey is continuing to work on the team’s RB17 hypercar behind the scenes ahead of its debut at Goodwood in July.

Even these rumours show his freedom as he was speaking at an event held by a company building the boat he commissioned and it was revealed last year that he was even designing a submarine.

Wherever he moves, it would be reasonable to believe that he would want to play a part in any project he chooses and sure, McLaren are one of many with a road car division but Newey is unlikely to have the same level of freedom within the McLaren setup as he does at Red Bull currently.

A move to Woking would see him working for both Brown and Andrea Stella whereas at Red Bull, he was seen as on an even keel with Horner, further reason to think that a move back to McLaren is unlikely.

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Eddie Jordan – a championship level s**t stirrer

It does not take very long to find some of the more outrageous quotes of Eddie Jordan from over his many decades in the sport.

From team owner to TV pundit, Jordan has never been shy when it comes to microphone and will know full well just what power his words can have.

And his predictions have not always been entirely accurate. Despite them being in their dominant run, he suggested Mercedes may decide to sell up in 2018 and six years later they are still around. In 1998, he said F1 was in a “new era” and there would be no more dominance from teams, just a few years before Ferrari took control.

So all of this is to say that it is best to take what Jordan says with a pinch of salt.

Zak Brown has all but ruled a Adrian Newey move out

But the most important reason why Newey to McLaren is unlikely, and this should have been enough to kill plenty of the rumours dead, was that McLaren CEO Zak Brown all but said it was not going to happen.

In the immediate aftermath of Newey’s announcement, Brown told the Beyond the Grid podcast that McLaren was “very happy with what we have.”

“I have heard of him,” he joked when asked about the departing Red Bull design chief. “We are very happy with what we have. Adrian is the most successful designer of all time and also a good friend.

“Our plans are to keep doing what we are doing, I’m really happy with everything that Andrea [Stella], the whole technical team are doing.”

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth – and that should all but end any speculation of Newey going back to the MTC as part of the F1 team.

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