Adrian Newey identifies potential ‘big risk’ on the horizon for F1

Sam Cooper
Adrian Newey on the grid. Singapore, October 2022.

Red Bull's Adrian Newey ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix. Singapore, October 2022.

Adrian Newey has warned there could be another Mercedes-style era of dominance once the new power unit regulations come in.

The Silver Arrows’ period of dominance coincided with sweeping engine changes and the reintroduction of a turbocharged power unit. Such was the dominance of the Mercedes engine, it took years for other suppliers to draw level.

Now, it is said the four suppliers – Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and Renault – produce engines of similar levels of performance but Newey has warned that could change come the 2026 season.

Formula 1 is bracing itself for the first major power unit regulation changes since that 2014 season and Newey predicts that it could disperse the field once again.

“When the hybrid regulations first came in, there were huge differences,” he told Sky Italia. “Mercedes did a fantastic job with their power unit and others were varying levels behind.

“Now it’s closed up so I would say there’s maybe two or three per cent in the power difference, which is 0.2 to 0.3s difference perhaps, which when the grid is so tight, is still a big number. But it’s not like the one second when the regulations came out.

“The big risk now is another power unit shake-up in 2026, there could be a gap for a while. If there’s a big gap in power units, it takes time for the manufacturers to understand and close it, whereas chassis people can have a quicker reaction time.”

Red Bull have their own power unit project to work on having established Red Bull Powertrains in 2021 following the departure of Honda. The Milton Keynes outfit is still receiving help from Honda for the time being but that will change in 2026 when the Japanese supplier partners with Aston Martin. recommends

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Newey revealed that the sole focus of the Red Bull Powertrains subdivision was the 2026 season.

“On the chassis side, not so much,” Newey replied when asked on the Talking Bull podcast how much the 2026 regulation changes were affecting his plans. “On the engine side? Yes, absolutely. So Ben Hodgkinson [technical director at Red Bull Powertrains] and the RB Powertrains team, their sole focus is the ’26 engine.

“On the chassis side, for the ’26 engine, we’re looking at how that packages. So Rob Marshall [Editor’s note – Marshall will leave Red Bull to join McLaren at the start of 2024], is kind of the guy that’s really looking after us and he’s doing a great job, looking forward at how we integrate all that.

“But other than that, we don’t have a proper set of ergonomic regulations or anything else yet to go on so there’s no point in us spending too much time on that until we have a much more defined set of regulations.”