January 11, 2023

Newey: Politicking against Red Bull at level never seen before in F1

The Milton Keynes-based team is locked in an ultra-close tussle for the world championship with rival Mercedes, as the two outfits have been hard to separate over the first half of the campaign.

But as well as the battle on track, the season has witnessed its fair share of clashes off it, with the FIA being pushed to issue technical directives about flexi wings, tyre pressures and pit stops.

All of these interventions appear to have been targeted against Red Bull, although none of them have so far made a noticeable difference to its performance.

But for Newey, who has been a part of Red Bull since 2006 and been involved in all its championship successes, he says the level of behind-the-scenes shenanigans has been greater than he has experienced before.

“In many ways it is a compliment to the team to find ourselves under such scrutiny from others,” he said in an interview published on the Red Bull website.

“We have experienced this before but I can’t remember a time when we have received the same level of behind the scenes politicking and lobbying against our car.

“Possibly if you look back to when we were exploring aeroelastics in 2010 / 2011 then we were under constant scrutiny and would adapt to each changing set of regulations. We’ve been here before in the last championship battles with Ferrari which involved some rows over bodywork flexibility as well.

“I never particularly like the war analogy – but it is a decent analogy, and you have to look at every aspect you can to improve your competitive position.

“That is the nature of F1, and one of the things that makes it so stimulating, but it is the frequency and intensity of this year that is quite telling.”

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Reflecting on the flexi wing saga that emerged at the Spanish Grand Prix, Newey said the biggest hindrance to the clampdown was not a performance one – but more the costs involved in needing to strength their components.

“If you take the issue with the flexible rear wing, we certainly weren’t the only team to have that issue,” he said.

“But of course, when Mercedes started making noise about it, they weren’t worried about what Alfa were doing. They were only worried about whether we were getting a benefit, which we really weren’t. But there was a cost implication to changing that part which obviously hurt.

“It is however a great testament to the depth of our team that we can respond to changes and is a great example of when our team is put in a corner we can come out fighting and continue to be just as competitive.” 

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