Adrian Newey makes key admission over 2022 regulation changes

Sam Cooper
Adrian Newey in Red Bull garage. Miami, May 2023.

Adrian Newey in the Red Bull garage. Miami, May 2023.

Adrian Newey has admitted he felt “depressed” when he first saw the 2022 regulation changes but later grew to appreciate them more.

As a man who is at the head of a technological team who has clearly understood and perfected the recent regulation changes the best, you would expect Newey to have relished them from the moment he set eyes on them but he has admitted the reverse happened.

In 2021, designers and engineers like Newey were tasked with ripping up everything they knew and essentially starting again as Formula 1 introduced the biggest regulation changes for decades in an attempt to produce closer racing.

But when Newey first read what was being asked of him and his team, he admitted to feeling “depressed” before changes were made.

“’21 was a huge regulation change, the biggest regulation change since the flat bottom cars of 1983,” the design chief said on Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast. “So from a chassis point of view, as opposed to the engine, it is absolutely massive.

“Initially, I must admit, I was a bit depressed by the regulations when I first saw them but they were then relaxed a bit as a result of pressure from the teams and the more you got into them, the more you could see that actually there was more freedom than we thought.”

The result of the regulation changes was dramatically different looking cars across the board with Red Bull and Ferrari following a similar sidepod design while Mercedes’ was completely different. Newey admitted that at one point you have to choose which way to go and you can never be sure if you have taken the right option.

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“[The regulation changes] resulted at the start of last year in lots of cars looking quite different to each other which I think’s always a good thing,” the former McLaren man said. “It was nice that viewers can tell the cars not just by the livery but also by the shapes.

“I would say that we took our concept, Ferrari had a slightly different but broadly similar concept and Mercedes had a very different concept with their so-called zero sidepods.

“When you start off on a road in the development of a car, you have to make a decision at some point about what route you’re going to take and we obviously chose ours, the others chose theirs.

“You get then to the first season, the first races and as the season goes on, you develop your strategy, Ferrari developed theirs, Mercedes developed theirs and you’re never sure which is going to have the most ultimate potential.

“The early starter might not have the longest branch or road or whatever adjective you want to use.”