On This Day in #F1: 26th December 1958 – Newey Born

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler – The Grumpy Jackal

– 1958: Formula One’s worst nightmare born

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Vittorio Jano, Ferdinand Porsche, John Cooper, Colin Chapman, Mauro Forghieri, John Barnard et al – all brilliant engineers and designers that changed the course of motor-sport designs.

I have to ask would it be fair to include Newey in this exclusive club?

Arguably he is the best aerodynamicist of his generation but could he really be defined as a game changer? Whilst all the men mentioned above were ground-breakers, innovators that broke new ground with radical new ways of thinking, Newey is merely the 21st century geek that hones his designs in binary, surely? Newey is the hip-hop genius of the current era, taking ideas pioneered by true innovators and merely polish them to the absolute limit… or is that a disservice to Newey and his predecessors?

Newey was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and an early claim to fame was he attended the same school as Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson. At the age of 16 he was politely asked to leave the school after he pushed the volume levels up on an amplifier whilst progressive rock band Greenslade were performing. It was not noted whether the change in acoustics – which destroyed the 11th century stained glass windows – were an early experiment into how to blow gases!

Young Ade graduated from Southampton University in 1980 with a First Class Honours degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics and began working immediately for the Fittipaldi Formula One team under Harvey Postlethwaite.

His next move took him stateside and he worked for March for several years, as a race engineer in F2 and then designing March GTP sports-cars and their Indycar project. In 1984, his design won seven races including the famous Indy500 and would take the titles in 1985 and 1986.

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The developing genius returned back to Europe by joininfg FORCE, the F1 team set up by Karl Haas, but when the team withdrew, Newey was re-hired by March as chief designer. He remained at March for three seasons, 1988 to 1990, before accepting a call from the Williams team for the 1991 season and the rest as they say is history.

Yet in this video, he speaks of how his initial designs changed the direction Formula One was taking by designing the front wing and chassis in collaboration, as at the time “cars were becoming big and clumsy.”

Formula One in the 21st century has fundamentally changed from the days when a single mind could design and build a complete race car. It has evolved into an organisation which chase milli-seconds at the cost of millions.
It has ignored the sports original DNA of hard, driven, sporting pioneers and morphed into corporations that – irrespective of lip-service to sportsmanship -are all businesses.

Maybe the pioneers would have been swallowed up by the evolution of technology, science and language. Or just maybe, they would have evolved into the kind of man that Newey is today.

Either way, these are competitive men, driven to succeed and pushing boundaries forever.

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7 responses to “On This Day in #F1: 26th December 1958 – Newey Born

  1. I reckon Newey belongs in that list of greats. It’s nigh on impossible to compare his still growing legacy with those other guys though, if only because the eras they all operated in are just so ridiculously different. Newey’s designs are probably less innovative than some of the others but that’s because the rule he’s operated under are massively more restrictive.

    Newey is without doubt the leading designer of this generation by some margin and deserves a place with the other design stars.

    BTW, I’d throw Gordon Murray in there as well as a roughy. Not as successful as some but any man with the BT46B and BT55 plus the original Macca road car in his portfolio is crazy good.

    • Afterthought: We may see Newey’s innovative side come through in his America’s Cup project, not that I have much idea about the design rules for the boats these days.

  2. Don’t forget also that Newey is old-school.. He visualises his designs and draws them with a pen. He then gives it to the computer guys to work up into real parts. Was Peter P his go-to for this as second in command? Once at McLaren, a Red Bull front wing turns up ASAP.

    There’s no denying that Newey’s Williams, McLarens and Red Bulls have had plenty of innovative features, the question is how many were down to him, e.g. twin-keel McLaren or EBD yes, but active suspension? One wheel braking? Possibly not.

  3. For me, Adrian Newey is/was the most interesting person in F1.
    Just love seeing when the camera shows him studying his or a competitor’s car. You can almost see the wheels turning in his brain.
    More than another else, I’d like to have dinner with him.

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