Alain Prost on why you can never argue with Formula 1 genius Adrian Newey

Henry Valantine
Adrian Newey on the grid. Singapore, October 2022.

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

Four-time World Champion Alain Prost has spoken of his experiences of working with Adrian Newey in the past, and was effusive in his praise of the designer extraordinaire.

Newey’s cars have powered drivers and teams to 23 World Championship titles across both Drivers’ and Constructors’ honours throughout his career, with his latest titles coming with the record-breaking Red Bull RB18 last season – with the car breaking an all-time Formula 1 record by winning 17 races in a single season.

The first titles with cars designed by Newey came 30 years beforehand with the all-conquering Williams FW14B, before Prost came away from the Formula 1 sidelines and took his final title with the team in 1993.

He referenced Newey’s long-held practice of drawing his cars by hand from their meetings together while they were both at the team, and the fact he always listens to drivers makes him not just easy to get on with, but someone who will know what is best for the needs of the drivers.

“I loved talking to Adrian,” Prost regaled on the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“Adrian is listening to you, asking questions all the time. You never have an argument with Adrian. You’re talking with Adrian and he is listening, and then he does what he thinks is the best, but he never tells you what he’s going to do – or if you’re right or you’re wrong. Nothing. Just listening and talking.

“I love that, you know, that is why he’s the best – because you know why? Because everybody thinks that Adrian is still one engineer.

“I mean, I don’t know now, but he was at McLaren and I remember going in his office and [he was] drawing some parts of the car by hand – I mean, it’s unbelievable.

“But also the ways he is working and listening, and it’s fantastic for the engineers working with him, it brings energy and synergy in terms of the brain, that capacity is fantastic.” recommends

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Newey has long been known to race himself alongside his work in Formula 1, though Prost added that he never overstepped in terms of discussing motorsport experiences, given the unique challenge of driving a Formula 1 car.

Prost added that he sees similarities in personality with Red Bull’s chief technical officer in his own right.

“When I was with him in ’93, I mean, as a racing driver talking I did not know that he was also driving, for sure there you can see the passion,” he explained.

“I didn’t know but Adrian would never tell you, ‘Okay, I drove this car, I drove that, I felt that and do you feel the same?’ or whatever, [he would] never compare anything, because he knows Formula 1 is very different.

“In fact, we are very similar. You always listen, and if you are a racing driver you always want to have the best, you know, and Adrian the same.

“And that is why he will talk to you but not asking questions, but the answer is going to be natural because he’s like part of your family – he is very different.”

But underneath the calm exterior on the pit wall and in the garage lies a ferocious competitor in Newey, and Prost was not always on the correct side of his temper – most notably during his time spent at Renault while they were supplying Red Bull with engines.

That relationship ended in acrimony on both sides, and the passion Newey had during difficult conversations was a side the four-time World Champion had not seen in the designer before.

“Yes, because I saw in that my experience I had with him a little bit when I was at Renault, and we had a few mechanical shudders with the engine.

“I was the one that Renault pushed in order to go and talk to Max’s family and Adrian or also Helmut or Christian.

“I remember in Spa, going to the office and I was almost afraid but anyway, it was not a good experience. But I saw Adrian very, very upset sometimes, very upset because he’s a competitor and he thinks that he’s making the best car and he wants to have the results – and if it’s because of the engine or reliability, he cannot accept that.

“But I saw him, the real competitor, sometimes he can be angry – because I never saw him like this before.

“And he’s not young, he has fantastic experience, fantastic records but he’s still there, motivated and being angry like he was, I really appreciate that very much.”