US giants Ford issue response to Adrian Newey exit ahead of Red Bull partnership

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Adrian Newey, and the Ford logo.

The departure of Adrian Newey from Red Bull has been addressed by Ford.

With Red Bull losing Adrian Newey by the middle of next year, future engine partner Ford has shared its thoughts on his departure.

Ford enter Formula 1 in partnership with Red Bull’s new engine division, Red Bull Powertrains, in 2026 – meaning the US giant won’t be powering a new Adrian Newey creation.

Ford fully committed to Red Bull future

Ford put pen to paper with Red Bull in absolutely dominant form in F1, with the Milton Keynes-based squad sweeping all before it and with a harmonious management structure.

But 2024 has shaken this harmony, with an internal investigation by Red Bull GmbH into allegations involving team boss Christian Horner disrupting proceedings. While the investigation was dismissed, the fallout has resulted in tensions within the ranks as Horner retained the support of both the Thai and Austrian shareholders.

The off-track dramas played a part in the acceleration of Adrian Newey’s plans for the future, with the chief technical officer choosing to hand in his notice at Red Bull.

A key part of the team who has overseen all the dominant Red Bull designs over the years, Newey’s departure will mark a big loss for the squad – particularly ahead of the major regulation change for 2026.

Newey’s involvement in F1 has, for now, come to an end with his duties shifting over to the roll-out of the new Red Bull RB17 hypercar, due to hit production next year.

With Ford entering Formula 1 in 2026, news of Newey’s departure could have been a big concern for Ford ahead of their link-up with RBPT in their new long-term technical partnership, but Ford’s Performance Motorsports director Mark Rushbrook said his exit makes no change.

“We have huge respect for Adrian in terms of his career and all the things that he has done for many different teams in F1, especially the last 19 years at Red Bull,” Rushbrook said.

“We wish him the best for whatever he will do in the future. Our focus though fully remains on the power unit programme for 2026. That’s unchanged after this news and that is still going ahead, full throttle.

“Like any good company or any good racing team, you always have a succession plan, and you are always training and developing people within the organisation. That is no different in this case. I am not being disrespectful to Adrian at all because he is fantastic, but every team has a succession plan.”

More on Ford’s upcoming F1 entry

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Why Adrian Newey has decided to leave F1

While there’s plenty of speculation about Newey potentially joining another team on the grid, the British designer has yet to announce any plans beyond leaving Red Bull, and F1.

Speaking in his only on-record interview since the departure confirmation, Newey told Sky F1 that he’d been pondering an exit for some time – pointing back at the 2021 season as being particularly difficult.

In a year in which he suffered serious head injuries in a cycling accident, 2021 also marked the final year of the old regulations, as well as the development window for the revolutionary 2022 regulations – resulting in Newey having to concentrate on the ongoing development of the RB16B right until the end of the championship, while also honing the new ground-effect RB18 machine.

“Formula 1 is all-consuming,” he said.

“I’ve been at it for a long time now. 2021 was a really busy year because of the tight battle with Mercedes through the championship and, at the same time, putting all the research and development into the RB18, which is the father of this generation of cars.

“I don’t know. There comes a point, I think, where I just felt, as Forrest Gump said, ‘I’m feeling a little bit tired’.”

Some speculation had suggested Newey’s departure was hastened by a falling out with Horner, although both parties expressed their admiration for each other and the extent of their relationship in public statements since.

“We have enjoyed a great relationship, and we continue to enjoy a great relationship,” Horner said.

“We are friends as well as work colleagues and he’s done a huge amount for this team.

“We’ll be sad to see him leave, but he’s left the team in good shape and we’ve got a great team of people and strength and depth to take us forward.

“It’s been a wonderful journey with Adrian. He’s a friend, he’s the godfather to my children and we remain friends.”

Speaking about the upcoming 2026 regulations, Newey said he can’t rule out the possibility of perhaps engaging with them in a competitive capacity.

“Going through the ’26 regulations, at the moment they look kind of a slightly strange set of regulations,” he said.

“But to then write them off and say therefore they won’t be good, I think is way too premature.

“You know, there comes a point always where as a designer you first look at what they might be and you might have an opinion of are they good or are they bad.

“I’m sure ’26 will be another big challenge.

“Whether I’m part of that or not. I really don’t know. But for those involved, it will be a big challenge.”