Adrian Newey: A specialist in F1 car design…and emojis!

Thomas Maher
Adrian Newey and Christian Horner in front of the Red Bull gantry. Bahrain March 2023

Adrian Newey and team boss Christian Horner in front of the Red Bull gantry. Bahrain March 2023

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has revealed Adrian Newey is quite the dab hand at emoji usage when he’s not busy designing Championship-winning F1 cars.

Horner was a guest on the Red Bull-produced podcast Talking Bull, when he was asked about his rise into F1 with the energy drinks giant – Horner having been snapped up by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz at just 31 years of age.

Having assumed control of the Red Bull Racing outfit for their first year in 2005, the team proved solid, if unspectacular, and carved out a reputation for themselves as being a less than serious outfit due to their image as a ‘party team’.

But, in November 2005, Horner succeeded in convincing the already highly successful car designer Adrian Newey to join the team – a pivotal moment for Red Bull. 18 years later, Newey remains a key element in the team’s success, designing the cars that won the 2010-2013 titles, as well as Max Verstappen’s title-winning cars in 2021 and ’22.

Christian Horner on how he convinced Adrian Newey to join

With Newey embedded in the fabric of a title-contending McLaren at the time when the burgeoning Red Bull team entered the sport, Horner revealed how the signing came about and explained that it was then-Red Bull driver David Coulthard who had helped convince Newey of the new team’s potential.

“Adrian was a key [staff signing] at the end of the first year,” Horner explained.

“I remember saying to Dietrich [Mateschitz] and Helmut [Marko], I think we’ve got a real chance of getting Adrian Newey, I’ve been talking to him throughout the season.

“It was a matter of persuading him and his then-wife, and David Coulthard played a role in it because he obviously knew Adrian having driven at McLaren and at Williams when he’d been there.” recommends

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But it was the personal connection that Horner and Newey established that helped get the deal across the line – a huge moment for the ‘party team’ as they secured Newey’s signature in what was seen as a very risky move at the time.

“Something just clicked and he and I got on really well,” Horner explained.

“We just had a similar outlook on things and it was phenomenal to get him on board. And then suddenly people started to take us seriously!”

Adrian Newey proves adept at emoji deployment

Asked by podcast host Nicola Hume whether he and Newey are genuine friends as well as colleagues, the conversation turned to laughter as she asked whether they’ve got a WhatsApp chat group going between them.

“We’re not of a WhatsApp generation,” Horner smiled.

“But he’s pretty handy on your WhatsApp. He’s an emoji specialist!

“Obviously, we are work colleagues, but we’re friends. The friendship is incredibly important. He’s godfather to one of my children and that’s very important to me. We’ve been together a long time now and we’ve always enjoyed working together and have always had a very strong friendship.”