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Newey: How “Schumi” prevented his move to Ferrari
Google translate from Germany’s motorsport-total.com:
Excerpt from his autobiography: Why did Adrian Newey cancel Ferrari twice and how did Niki Lauda want to get him to Mercedes?
Adrian Newey is considered one of the most successful Formula 1 designers of all time. The 59-year-old has designed no less than ten world champion cars. In this respect, it is not surprising that over the years he has repeatedly received offers from competition teams. Including Mercedes.
Newey reveals this in his autobiography ‘How to Build a Car’. After the first three title wins with Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel in 2010, 2011 and 2012, he had reached a deadlock. The Formula 1 rules narrowed his creative freedom as a designer more and more, so he was looking for fresh motivation and a career change at least not excluded.
“I thought about what options I had when Niki Lauda from Mercedes came to me,” Newey writes. “A series of conversations about my possible move to Mercedes followed, and Niki came to my house several times to discuss the possibility that was already appealing to me.”
“Not too much of a change to Mercedes, the team that is sure to become world champion in 2014, and where I would virtually replace Ross Brawn, would have felt wrong, it looked as if I just wanted to win as many titles as possible, and I thanked them at Niki and refused. ”
Porsche also wanted to sign Newey
Another German car manufacturer asked Newey at that time with Porsche . But much more concrete were from the end of 2012 contacts with Ferrari: “They had courted me before, but now they were serious,” confirmed the Briton in retrospect, an exclusive message from ‘Motorsport-Total.com’ of January 2013.
It was then said that Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had a secret meeting in Maranello with Ferrari personnel manager Mario Mairano. “The suspicion suggests that this is an attempt to get indirectly to the services of star designer Adrian Newey,” the news.
Five years later, Newey’s book first publishes publicly on the secret negotiations: “I went to Italy to meet with Luca Montezemolo, then president of Ferrari, in his Tuscan country estate, we negotiated seriously, the offer was surprisingly generous, Luca I wanted to entrust the entire brand to Ferrari – sports cars and racing cars. ”
“I could have taken on the lifestyle of a movie star and garnered a tremendous salary, far more than double the already generous I received at Red Bull,” he recalls. Eventually he stayed with Red Bull, because all his considerations were “one simple realization”: “I did not want to leave Red Bull.”
It was Ferrari’s second attempt to secure Neweys services for Formula One. At the beginning of 1995 Jean Todt was rebuilding the Scuderia. Before Michael Schumacher was hired by Benetton (Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne), Todt tried to get Newey to Maranello. He had just fallen out with Frank Williams and Patrick Head.
Todt wanted to bring Newey to Ferrari in 1995
“Ferrari was in contact with me, ” writes Newey. “Jean Todt joined the Maranello team as Sport Director from the Peugeot World Rally Team, and for the second time, I made a secret visit to Ferrari, the first being in 1985 when she offered me design leadership for a new Ferrari-based IndyCar. Project they were considering at the time. ”
“We were picked up at Bologna airport and unobtrusively taken to Jean’s cottage, where Gerhard Berger and others were waiting for us.” Jean was looking for a new technical director and offered attractive conditions, “said Newey. The conversation was positive – to a critical point: “But then he wanted to know what I think of Michael Schumacher, they wanted to recruit him for the 1996 season.”
“I was not really into that, Schumacher was definitely a rider the competition had to fear, and probably the best at the time, but I had not forgotten Imola and the conversation with Ayrton, who had been sure Schumacher had one It would have been almost irreverent to work for Michael so soon after Ayrton’s death. ”
To prehistory: Ayrton Senna, then at Neweys Williams team under contract, had expressed at the Imola weekend in 1994, a few hours before his death, concerns that Schumacher and Benetton with a then prohibited traction control tricks. Schumacher was for Williams the avowed archrival, Newey also friends with his nemesis Damon Hill.
In the end, star designer Ferrari retired in 1995. Also because of his wife Marigold and his children. Ferrari would have meant a move to Maranello, and Newey did not want to risk his marriage for it. About ten years earlier, the marriage to his first wife Amanda had failed because he had moved to the USA due to an IndyCar engagement.
So Newey signed in June 1995, a three-year contract with Williams. Under two conditions: “Frank and Patrick assured me that I would participate appropriately in all business decisions in the future and that I got my salary increase as well.”
Villeneuve obligation caused upset
But the peace lasted only briefly. In the summer of 1995 Craig Pollock tried to accommodate his protégé Jacques Villeneuve at Williams. Supposedly – Newey does not confirm this in his book – with the support of Bernie Ecclestone. Newey was to be involved in the driver’s decisions from now on, but was on vacation at Villeneuve’s first Williams test at Silverstone .
So they spoke in advance: If Villeneuve could reach up to one second on Hills reference time, one would think about a commitment. Otherwise not. “He then stayed behind Damon two seconds later, so I assumed the matter was settled,” Newey writes.
“It was – he got the cockpit from Frank and Patrick without them asking me, so when I got back from vacation, I called in a meeting and asked frankly why the hell we hired Jacques as a driver even though he was two seconds behind Damon’s best. ”
“But most of all, I reminded both of them that my contract said I needed to be involved in all business policy decisions, including driver choice.” You were in Barbados, was the lame excuse. There were phones and faxes there, sorry, Frank admitted, it must have been the 25-year habit, it will not happen again. ”
But did it. Hill had delivered in 1995 a drivingly disappointing season. Already in early 1996, rumors circulated that Williams was negotiating with Heinz-Harald Frentzen for 1997. Hill was on his way to the world title when Newey and Patrick Head flew to England together after the Grand Prix of Germany and already had a few glasses of wine.
1996: Relationship with Williams and Head damaged
Head said on the flight: “Oh yes, Adrian, I actually wanted to tell you all the time.” At the beginning of the year Frank and I decided to hire Frentzen for 1997 because Damon drove so badly in 1995. ” Newey had no idea and saw no future for himself at Williams.
“Now McLaren came into focus again,” he recalls. “Although I canceled them in 1995, Martin Whitmarsh still wanted to hire me in. He called me every few months just to say hello and askhow I feel … When it became public that Damon got his Had lost room for 1997, was not difficult to guess who was the first to call me. ”
“At McLaren, everything agreed with me: I got along well with Martin Whitmarsh, liked the company, was pleased to be working with David Coulthard again as a driver, and I liked that her Mercedes engine from my old friend Mario Illien at Ilmor Engines in Brixworth was designed and built. ”
The rest is history: Newey had his last working day on November 7, 1996 at Williams. “I have never been there again,” he writes. On August 1, 1997, he had his first day at McLaren in Woking – with a whole series of technical drawings in his suitcase, which he had made during his work stoppage.
Newey’s autobiography ‘How to Build a Car’ has been published in the English-language original 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers in London, written by ghostwriter Andrew Holmes.
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