Adrian Newey admits he was wrong about the new F1 rules. While he was a vocal critic of the new technical regulations before their introduction in 2022, Adrian Newey has had a complete change of heart while working on the development of the winning RB18
Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s F1 technical director and chief designer, admits he was wrong when he strongly criticised the new technical regulations being introduced in Formula One in 2022.
At the start of the 2021 season, a year before the new rules were introduced in F1, Adrian Newey was quick to criticise the new rules, with the British motorsport legend calling them a “missed opportunity” for the Formula 1 championship:
“As a motorsport fan, I don’t think they’re a good set of rules,” Newey said.
“2022 rules were just bad, or so I thought”
“I just think it’s a shame and a missed opportunity. If you’re going to come up with a completely new set of rules, make sure they’re good ones. But these rules just aren’t.”
“It’s still interesting, yes, although I have to admit that I still have to find something to make these rules exciting for me. It’s not that I don’t like change or progress, but I just don’t think it’s a good new rule.”
But after a 2022 campaign dominated by Red Bull and Max Verstappen, the Neweys’ views have changed considerably and he now unabashedly admits he was wrong about the new rules.
“When I first read the rules two years ago I was really frustrated. They seemed extremely restrictive. I have to admit that I had to change my mind when I was working on these cars,” explained Adrian Newey, quoted by AMUS.
“The chassis and front wing are very constrained, but there are areas with surprising freedom. These include the sidepods and the underbody. The different shapes of the pontoons are also easy to distinguish for the fans and that’s a good thing.”
Adrian Newey finds even more pleasure in working on these new cars than the previous ones, not least because the learning curve is much steeper than in the past:
“It’s more exciting because the cars are so new.”
“It’s a steep learning curve for all of us. Last year’s cars were the result of a long development process, the regulations had been in place for ages and although there were always changes in the rules, everything worked on the same principle.”
Mercedes a big surprise
In this respect, the British designer believes that the new rules have worked perfectly this season, allowing teams to develop totally different concepts, such as Mercedes, who surprised many people by introducing ‘zero sidepods’ [extremely narrow shaped sidepods] on their car, which are completely different to those used by Ferrari or Red Bull.
Newey admits that his team had not considered Mercedes’ solution when developing the RB18 and was therefore very surprised when he saw the W13’s pontoons for the first time:
“The Mercedes was a real surprise. We overlooked this solution.”
“It’s difficult to judge from the outside [whether this concept works], but the Mercedes has improved as the year has gone on. To be honest, we didn’t have time to look at the concept in detail, because when you’re operating under a budget cap, you don’t have that luxury.”
“That’s why you go down the roads that you think will bring the most profit first. With the Mercedes, everyone will only get the copy pen when the concept suddenly becomes a sustainable success.”
Looking ahead, Adrian Newey admits that Red Bull will not be embarking on the development of a completely new concept and prefers to continue working on the basis of the reigning world champion RB18: “We will continue to develop our concept, because we know it well.”
“But I can’t say if this way is the best way, because it is quite possible that someone else has a better idea.”
“None of us know yet where we will end up by developing our own concepts. Maybe another team has more development potential and is still lagging behind today,” added Newey, who does not rule out the possibility of a team coming up with a unique solution in 2023, such as the double diffuser in the past.
To date, the RB18 developed by Adrian Newey’s engineering team remains the most successful single-seater with 17 wins in a single season, eight more than the RB9 of the 2013 season driven by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.