‘Don’t buy that one bit’ – Christian Horner’s Adrian Newey claim scrutinised after Red Bull exit

Oliver Harden
Christian Horner and Adrian Newey smile for the cameras

Happier times: Christian Horner and Adrian Newey smile for the cameras at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

Sky F1 presenter Natalie Pinkham has rejected Christian Horner’s claims that Adrian Newey’s importance to Red Bull had diminished prior to his shock exit.

After days of speculation, Red Bull confirmed on Wednesday that Newey will leave the team in early 2025 having been a central figure behind the Milton Keynes outfit’s momentous F1 success, designing title-winning cars for Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

Adrian Newey’s Red Bull influence examined after Christian Horner claims

The news of Newey’s departure comes amid rumours that the 65-year-old has received contract offers from Aston Martin and Ferrari, with reports in Italy claiming Ferrari could announce the signing of Newey in the aftermath of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.

A breakdown in his relationship with Horner has been mentioned as a potential reason behind Newey’s decision to leave after the long-serving team principal saw an investigation into his conduct dismissed in February.

Horner has made an effort to praise other members of Red Bull’s technical staff – including technical director Pierre Wache – over recent times, with his comments angering Newey’s wife Amanda.

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Responding in January to the suggestion that Wache was responsible for the design of 2023’s dominant RB19 car, Mrs Newey took to Twitter to respond: “Absolute b****cks.”

In a separate post in which Horner had been quoted as saying Red Bull’s technical structure was no longer “reliant” on Newey, she wrote: “What a load of hogwash.”

Appearing on the F1 Nation podcast, Pinkham claimed she simply does not “buy” the suggestion that Newey’s influence has lessened.

She said: “[He is] the greatest, most influential figure in F1 history and will have an impact well into the future. They’re not my words but those of Mark Webber.

“Before I even joined the sport, he told me this. I said: ‘Who’s the biggest person in F1?’

“I was expecting him to say Bernie or maybe one of the drivers, but he said Adrian Newey without a doubt.

“I don’t think we can ever underestimate the value he brings to the sport and the quality of the culture that he’s been able to develop at Red Bull. I completely agree that he is a conductor of the orchestra.

“Yes, OK, his lieutenants may be putting into action a lot of his theories, but you’re telling me that anybody would go against his theories or his design ethics?

“This guy is a genius.

“And I think the narrative that has been peddled lately suits an agenda to say that perhaps his influence on the team has diminished.

“I just don’t think it’s true. I don’t buy into it one bit.

“And I think they will massively miss him, more than any driver that would come and go from that team.

“Max is phenomenal, but Max openly admits that it’s the machinery beneath him that makes the difference.”

Pinkham’s fellow contributor, the F1 reporter Christian Menath, added: “It’s massive, isn’t it?

“If you lose someone with that knowledge – not only a genius by being very creative with his ideas but also the knowledge you lose from any team member who is serving so long in one team and in the sport and Formula 1 – it’s massive in my opinion.

“I know that some people say it’s always a team of engineers and it’s not one genius who is building these cars nowadays.

“That might be true, but in my very limited knowledge I can just imagine Adrian Newey being being someone like maestro of an orchestra.

“Christian Horner described Max Verstappen as driving like a metronome, doing everything perfectly all the time, but I think the metronome in the engineers’ office is Adrian Newey.

“He’s the maestro of all the engineers in Milton Keynes and I think they will miss him quite a lot.”

The terms of Newey’s exit, handled by his friend and manager Eddie Jordan, could feasibly allow him to begin work with a rival team as early as 2025.

Despite Jordan hinting that retirement is likely to be Newey’s next move, F1 press conference host Tom Clarkson is convinced Newey will remain in the sport and lead a team’s development plans ahead of F1’s next major regulation changes in 2026.

He said: “His experience bank is going to be needed more than ever when we go into the 2026 rule changes.

“I think the status quo is set fair for the remainder of this year and 2025, because the aero rules open up for 2026 on January 1 2025.

“So all of the design offices and wind tunnels are going to be focused on ’26 and those 40 years in the sport that Newey has in that amazing brain of his are going to help.

“Any team that he goes to is going to want that as they’re preparing for 2026.

“So where’s he going to go? That’s the next thing.

“Does he just want to retire and go and sit on a beach? I doubt it. He’s too competitive for that.

“The Adrian I know and speak to is restless. He wants to do things, he wants to design, he still loves it.”

Read next: Adrian Newey’s gardening leave explained: How F1 legend will spend his final days at Red Bull