Mika Hakkinen’s three big issues Red Bull must tackle with Adrian Newey’s exit

Michelle Foster
Adrian Newey celebrates with Max Verstappen in Jeddah.

The departure of Adrian Newey from Red Bull has been confirmed, the team's chief technology officer to leave in early 2025.

After losing key technical personnel which could destabilise the team, Red Bull also have to deal with the ever-present threat of losing Max Verstappen to Mercedes.

Those are the main issues that Red Bull have to overcome as they come to terms with design guru Adrian Newey’s departure.

‘We have to watch the effect this has on Max Verstappen’

Almost two decades after joining Red Bull, Newey is off for pastures new or, if his good friend Eddie Jordan has this one right, is out to pasture next year.

Although the Briton will remain under the Red Bull umbrella until the first quarter of next year, the team has announced that he will no longer be involved in the Formula 1 project barring attending a handful of grands prix. Instead, he’ll be busy with Red Bull’s RB17.

His decision to leave the team comes after weeks of speculation, even after he signed a new two-year contract last year.

But as Lewis Hamilton showed back in February, if someone wants out, it is possible.

Whether the Briton will link up with his compatriot at Ferrari next season is anyone’s guess, although the Scuderia are believed to be leading the race to sign Newey.

Meanwhile, back at Red Bull, the loss of the 25-time championship-winner could be just the start warns double World Champion Hakkinen.

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“It is incredible that Adrian has decided to leave the team when we are only a quarter of the way through the 2024 season and at a time when his RB20 car is completely dominating the World Championship with Max Verstappen,” he wrote in his Unibet blog.

“He is going to continue working on Red Bull’s hypercar road car project – the RB17 – until early 2025, but the news that he is going to stop working on the F1 car is important for at least three reasons.

“First is the impact on the team if key personnel design to follow him, whether due to the politics inside the team or if they discover that Adrian is going to another team such as Ferrari.

“The second is whether the remaining team feels destabilised by these events. When a team loses its captain someone else needs to fill that role immediately, otherwise you have confusion.”

It is, however, triple World Champion Verstappen who Red Bull are most concerned about losing given the Dutchman continues to be publicly courted by Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff.

“Finally,” Hakkinen continued, “we have to watch the effect this has on World Champion Max Verstappen.

“While this year’s car is not going to become less competitive, and the 2025 car is likely to be an evolution, the 2026 car will be built under a completely new set of regulations.

“Adrian will have already started to conceive that design, but he won’t be around to finalise or deliver it, and more worrying for Max is the prospect for Adrian to be working for another team by this time next year.

“Mercedes has a vacancy following Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari. Max knows that team boss Toto Wolff is determined to return to the front of Formula 1 with a team working under the stable technical leadership of James Allison.”

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