Another big name could leave Red Bull as teams consider management change

Thomas Maher
Jonathan Wheatley, Red Bull, 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

Jonathan Wheatley is currently negotiating his contract with Red Bull as he's linked with a team boss role elsewhere.

With Red Bull sorting out the extensions of contracts of their leading personnel, Jonathan Wheatley is rumoured to be considering his future.

Following the confirmation of the departure of Adrian Newey as Red Bull’s chief technical officer and is set to leave the team, and F1, by the middle of next season, there’s some uncertainty over the future of sporting director Jonathan Wheatley.

The former Benetton and Renault mechanic joined Red Bull in 2006 and quickly rose through the ranks to become the team’s sporting director.

Under his watch, Red Bull has become the benchmark for their exemplary pit-stop performances – the Milton Keynes-based squad has set nine of the 10 quickest pit stops so far in F1 2024.

The pit crew’s slick turnarounds fall under Wheatley’s remit, as does ensuring the team operates within the sporting regulations and the other rulebooks at all times.

But Wheatley’s contract is currently up for renewal and PlanetF1.com understands he is currently negotiating a new deal with Red Bull.

Over the last few months, Red Bull has re-signed several of its top-level staff to new long-term deals.

In December, senior technical staff Enrico Balbo and Ben Waterhouse signed new contracts – Balbo being Red Bull’s aerodynamic chief, and Waterhouse, head of performance engineering.

In February, technical director Pierre Wache also re-committed to Red Bull and put to bed any possibility of him joining Ferrari any time soon as rumours had suggested.

But Wheatley has yet to re-sign with Red Bull amid hopes that he can find a new, more senior role somewhere else on the grid – interest from other teams would also likely have a positive effect on his financial value when it comes to his negotiations with Red Bull.

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Jonathan Wheatley eyeing up team boss role away from Red Bull?

Wheatley had been linked as a name to potentially replace Christian Horner as team boss at Red Bull, had Horner failed to retain the confidence of the Red Bull shareholders or if evidence had been found to warrant his removal from his position during the internal investigation into allegations regarding his behaviour as team boss.

But, with Horner retaining his position and the confidence of both sets of shareholders, Wheatley is understood to have engaged in discussions with two other teams on the grid – believed to be Alpine and Sauber.

Alpine’s Bruno Famin, as Alpine Motorsport’s vice-president, was initially brought in as a placeholder following the team’s split with Otmar Szafnauer last year, and retained the position into this season. Sauber, technically, doesn’t have a team boss, with Alessandro Alunni Bravi holding the position of ‘team representative’ and Andreas Seidl appointed as Sauber CEO.

With Wheatley hitting a glass ceiling and unable to rise any higher within the Red Bull ranks, he would therefore need to leave Milton Keynes in order to reach the higher level of management he purportedly desires.

Asked about the uncertainty regarding Wheatley’s immediate future, Horner couldn’t be drawn on the state of negotiations.

“I mean, there’s rumours about everybody,” he said after the Miami Grand Prix.

“So contracts between individuals and their terms and conditions are not something we really talk to the public on.”

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