Adrian Newey has revealed how former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and his ex-wife Slavica helped him after fracturing his skull in a cycling accident.
Newey suffered multiple skull fractures in the accident in Croatia, which happened in the summer of 2021 – with wife Amanda writing months later that his recovery was “nothing short of miraculous” and she “came close to losing the love of my life” as a result.
Newey himself downplayed it as “particularly silly” after the fact, but given he had been with the former F1 supremo in the days leading up to it, the Neweys reached out and his connections proved particularly helpful in getting early treatment.
Adrian Newey reveals Bernie Ecclestone help in getting treatment for multiple skull fractures
When Newey found that he needed treatment in a foreign country, Amanda made a phone call to Ecclestone and he used his connections accordingly to find a hospital bed.
Though when there was a slight risk of things going wrong, there was another call to get him back to the UK as quickly as possible.
“I mean, it’s all accidents are stupid, but that’s a particularly silly one,” Newey explained on the Formula For Success podcast.
“But I think what came out of that was how important people around you are.
“So I ended up with a fractured skull and luckily, Mandy, my wife and I had been with Bernie and Fabi Ecclestone the previous couple of days.
“I was not in a terribly good state. Mandy rang Bernie and said, ‘Look, this is not looking good. He’s looking a bit grey, we need to get him admitted’.
“So Bernie offered to put his boat on. His ex [Slavica] is Croatian, we were in Croatia, so he then rang his ex, who rang the prime minister, who rang the head of neurosurgery who was on holiday in Bosnia or something, but wheels moved to get me admitted very quickly.
“I was then admitted into this Croatian hospital in Split. If you go as a tourist to Split, then it has a real Italian Mediterranean feel, it’s very glamorous, [but] you go to the hospital, you might as well have been in Stalingrad. It’s kind of 1960s, it was all kind of porcelain tiles that smelt of disinfectant.
“The three wise men came round at the end of my bed, which must have been the anaesthetist, the maxillofacial guy and the neurosurgeon, all quite young, and one of them spoke reasonable English and said, ‘As you know, you’ve fractured your skull, and we need to operate very quickly because otherwise you could lose use of your eye’.
“I answered, ‘Okay, well, what’s involved in the operation?’
“’Oh, we cut and we place and everything will be perfect’.
“’Right, and what’s the risk of damage to the eye during the operation?’ – ‘Oh, no risk at all.’
“’Okay, and what’s the risk of brain damage in the operation?’ [They answered] – ‘Oh, five, maybe 10%?’
“At which point, I rang Mandy and said, ‘For Christ’s sake, get me out of here!’ And then again, Bernie and Fabi and Christian and Joe Macari in particular, they all swung into action, and got me home and I was operated on back in the UK.”