‘Strange clause’ of Adrian Newey gardening leave discussed as F1 future remains uncertain

Michelle Foster
A close-up shot of Adrian Newey with a cracked Red Bull logo alongside him

Is this where the Red Bull Racing empire begins to fall?

If, and it’s a big if, Adrian Newey leaves Red Bull, former Ferrari engineer Ernest Knoors believes the design guru could take all of Red Bull’s ground-effect aerodynamic secrets with him.

That simply is because he doesn’t believe Newey, in his standing as the ground-effect aerodynamics guy, has a gardening leave period stipulated in his contract.

‘It is not something that is easy to avoid…’

Winning World titles and Constructors’ Championships with McLaren and Williams, Newey moved to Red Bull Racing in 2006.

Since then his cars have won seven Drivers’ Championship titles and six teams’ trophies while this year the RB20 is racing towards eight and seven on the list.

The RB20, though, could yet be the last Newey-designed Red Bull.

According to reports, Aston Martin and Ferrari have both made big-bucks offers for the design guru while Damon Hill believes McLaren, who are on the up and up, could be his next destination.

The only concern for any team courting Newey is the potential for a six to 18-month lay-off as he serves what’s billed as ‘gardening leave’.

But such is Newey’s prowess and asking-price that Knoors, a former F1 engine engineer at Ferrari, reckons the Briton may have circumvented gardening leave in his contract.

“It is not something that is easy to avoid,” Knoors, who experienced such a period himself, told Racingnews365.

“Certainly for the lesser gods like in my case, you have little power in your contract when you sign with a team to say: ‘I don’t accept that gardening leave period’. So for the lesser people it is much more restrictive.

“For a top designer like Newey, I can imagine that he may have stipulated when he was appointed to Red Bull that he does not want a gardening leave.

“That he wants to be able to decide for himself when he will start working again.

“You can always contest it and I did that in my case.

“It is a bit of a strange clause in employment contracts. You are actually prevented from doing your work and there are all kinds of general rules, including in European law, where you have the opportunity to turn it into a lawsuit.”

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