How Honda got Red Bull’s top designer Adrian Newey sharp again

After winning both the Formula 1 Drivers and Constructors’ Championships between 2010 and 2013 with Sebastian Vettel, it would be another nine years at Red Bull before they repeat the same feat.

At the time, Red Bull’s Chief Technical Officer, Adrian Newey, was the chief designer of the cars that propelled Vettel to success.

Despite the incoming hybrid regulatory change in 2014, Newey, speaking exclusively to, admits that he considered quitting after 2013.

“We can count ourselves lucky that we had a very good run from 2009 to 2013,” says Newey. “But to be honest, I was pretty tired at the end of ’13.”

When the move to hybrids came, it was clear that Renault couldn’t keep up with Mercedes or Ferrari, leading them to unceremoniously drop Renault at the end of 2018. That period, according to Newey, was not productive for his motivation.

“After the switch from V8 to V6 turbo engines, our engine partner [Renault] was never really able to build a competitive bike,” explains Newey.

“Actually think we might have had the best chassis two or three times between 2014 and 2020, but we lacked an overall competitive car that would allow us to win a championship.

“When you realize you can’t go for the title, no matter how good your chassis is, it’s pretty demotivating.”

Honda switch marked the beginning of a new golden era

When the switch to Honda came in 2019, it came as a shock to the F1 world given how the relationship between the Japanese engine maker and McLaren was going.

But for Red Bull, it marked the beginning of a new golden era for the team, which has so far resulted in two drivers’ championships and ended Mercedes’ eight-year dominance.

“That collaboration changed everything,” says Newey.

“It suddenly gave us an engine that could compete with the standard.

“That meant that if we came up with a competitive chassis, we could really have a shot at a title. And with that realization, the motivation came all the way back.”

After Honda withdrew as their main powertrain supplier in 2021, the team will run their engine partner under the guise of Red Bull Powertrains in 2022 – although they have effectively taken over the Honda project.

However, at the Japanese Grand Prix, the Red Bull announced a strengthening of the partnership between the two entities, with the return of the official Honda company logos on the side of their cars.

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