Adrian Newey’s Red Bull future questioned in F1 budget cap analysis

Michelle Foster
Adrian Newey with his notebook on the grid.

Adrian Newey won titles at Williams and McLaren before joining Red Bull

Finding ways to balance the books in F1’s budget cap era, it is being reported Adrian Newey will “focus entirely” on Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar in order to “free up” one of the top-earner salary exemptions.

Formula 1 introduced a budget cap in 2021, the teams limited that year to just $145 million. There were, however, caveats.

The proviso in the stipulations related to the drivers’ salaries as well as those of each team’s top three earners. That typically is the team principal, the technical director plus one other.

Could Adrian Newey be shuffled into a non-F1 role?

But back in 2022 when it emerged that Red Bull had exceeded the cap during the 2021 season it was suggested, but denied, that Newey’s salary was part of the problem.

According to reports, Red Bull struck chief technical officer Newey off the bill by putting him down as a contractor. Auto Motor und Sport claimed the FIA disagreed.

In the end, it turned out to be an unclaimed tax rebate and other small issues that led to the team breaching the financial regulations by 1.6 per cent.

However, it seems Newey and his salary are once again creating headaches for Red Bull ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season with the budget cap down to $135m.

So much so, Auto Motor und Sport claims he may be shuffled into a non-Formula 1 role at Red Bull Racing.

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2024 calendar: Car launch dates, pre-season testing, TV schedule

F1 2024 entry fees: Huge cost behind Red Bull’s mighty season now revealed

“Apparently, the plan is for Newey to focus entirely on the RB17 hypercar project in the medium term to free up one of the three high-earning positions for others,” reports the German publication.

“The star designer is currently still working part-time in the Formula 1 team, but that is set to change. Newey could soon be devoting himself fully to the RB17.

“This is also because the FIA is looking very closely at whether there are technical synergies between Formula 1 and the road-going sports car.”

Last year, amidst suggestions teams were skirting the budget cap by using solutions found in their road car programmes for Formula 1, the FIA clamped down on that.

The finger was pointed at Red Bull and the RB17 hypercar which is said to include a very complicated floor.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko hit back, saying: “Our opponents are saying that the underbody of the RB17 provides insights for the Formula 1 car, which is obviously complete nonsense.”

The RB17 will be the first car fully produced by Red Bull, retailing at a cool $6.2 million for the hypercar.

Putting Newey on the hypercar project full-time means Red Bull can move another person onto the exception list.

At a time when Red Bull are losing key personnel to other teams, Rob Marshall having joined McLaren, it would given them scope to hold onto the likes of Pierre Wache, said to be a Ferrari target.

Read next: Lando Norris hits back at Max Verstappen ‘fear’ accusations over Red Bull rumours