Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey is confident that RBR’s 2009 good showing in the F1 world championship was just a stepping stone to greater things.
“For me, 2009 was a great year because, although we didn’t manage to win the championship, Red Bull Racing matured to the point where we were able to win races and challenge for a championship,” Newey says. “How that affects our season next year remains to be seen, but it has given a lot of people within the company confidence in their own ability.”
No one can be in any doubt about the ability of Newey himself. Joining Williams in 1990 with an already burgeoning list of successes on his resume, he soon produced a car that first took Nigel Mansell (1992) and then Alain Prost (’93) to world titles. When he moved to McLaren for 1997, again it was only a year before his MP4/13 began to dominate, taking Mika Häkkinen to a maiden world title, the feat repeated with Häkkinen’s defense of the drivers’ crown in 1999.
'I enjoy regulation changes because they give the opportunity to take a blue-sky approach.' – Newey
But it was his move from Ron Dennis’s Woking outfit to RBR’s fledgling operation in Milton Keynes early in 2006 that perhaps says most about the man. From a blank sheet of paper then, in just three years Newey has produced a car that came close to winning both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 2009. And the 50-year-old Englishman admits that last year’s huge shake-up in technical regulations was a help.
“I enjoy regulation changes because they give the opportunity to take a blue-sky approach,” he says, adding that long-established rules are less interesting or challenging “because it’s not then about new ideas or new understanding – it’s about lots of tiny iterations, and that really is a matter of resource rather than invention.”
Newey accepts that such wide-ranging changes to the regulations can’t come about every year, and so the embryonic RB6 project for next season is a design evolution, not a revolution.
“The main change in regulations for 2010 are much smaller than for 2009 – the only ones of significance are the ban on refuelling and the smaller front tire. It may be that other people have made big strides over the winter, and so how we all start the season remains to be seen," Newey adds.
If the RB5 is anything to go by, next year’s unveiling of Newey’s latest masterpiece will be among the most eagerly awaited in F1.
Keep up with all the news on Newey and the rest of the team at the Red Bull Racing website.