Christian Horner on Adrian Newey’s impact: ‘He’s the only bloke that can see air!’

Sam Cooper
Adrian Newey smiles next to Christian Horner. Mexico, October 2022.

Adrian Newey smiles next to Christian Horner looking up at the podium. Mexico, October 2022.

After the engineer delivered another title-winning car, Christian Horner has praised Adrian Newey for all that he has done for Red Bull.

The Milton Keynes outfit may now seem an established member of F1’s top table but back when they joined the sport, they were far from it.

Red Bull purchased Jaguar ahead of the 2005 season with David Coulthard leading the team out on track. They finished a respectable seventh in their debut season but the likes of Renault, McLaren and Ferrari, who were fighting up front, did not consider them a serious threat.

That was until the 2006 season and the arrival of one of the sport’s best minds: Newey.

Having been at McLaren for eight years, Red Bull had some convincing to do if they were going to prise the fabled engineer away from the Woking based outfit and so they deployed Operation DC.

“What was missing was a clear technical direction,” Horner said. “I’d always been a fan of Adrian’s and his cars going way back to the Leyton House times in the late 1980s.

“Adrian was the very best that’s ever been in Formula 1. It was a question of how could we entice Adrian to join the Red Bull team and that’s where David Coulthard came into play.”

“David’s a good friend,” Newey continued. “Somebody whose judgment I very much trusted, and David gave it a big thumbs-up.

“(Red Bull) were always having big discos … was this a team that would be taken seriously? But if you went beneath that veneer, then to me it looked like, yes, it had all the building blocks.

“The opportunity now with Red Bull to join a team, still very much a fledgling team, and to be involved with Christian on trying to grow that team with aspiration to win races, winning championships was a very distant dream at that point, but to try and win races was something that really intrigued me.”

Newey’s first design was the RB3 which came 15 years before the RB18 that guided Max Verstappen to his second World Championship and became the most successful car in Newey’s decorated career.

Speaking about Newey’s influence on the team, Horner described him as “the only bloke that can see air.”

“He lives in the matrix,” Horner said. “He’s been the conductor of the technical orchestra for all these years now. He’s still very hands on, he’s still at his drawing board. I think it’s probably the only drawing board in Formula 1, I had to argue with [former McLaren CEO] Ron Dennis to wrestle it out of McLaren.

“Obviously highs and lows during all these years but it’s always been fun. It’s always been about the racing.”

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