Adrian Newey slams new new hybrid F1 rules
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Apr 2014   |  9:28 am GMT  |  264 comments

Red Bull Racing design guru Adrian Newey yesterday launched a broadside against the 2014 rules, questioning the environmental imperative for switching to hybrid turbo engines, the cost of the changeover and the relevance of the technology to the outside world.

“You have to question the whole thing,” he said.

Speaking as part of a panel of team technical experts in the Friday FIA press conference in Bahrain, the 55-year-old didn’t hold back in his criticisms and afterwards further detailed his reasoning to waiting TV and radio crews.

“It seems to me that what we have done is create a set of regulations which, whilst technically interesting, [still lead me] question whether it gets all the compromises right,” said the Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer. “Ultimately, there is a relationship between cost, weight, aerodynamics… all sorts of factors if you’re going to go into road relevance. How you weight that, how you proportion it is impossible for an open-wheeled single-seater. It’s a very different beast. So no easy answer. We’ve gone for a package which is very complicated, very expensive. The cost of the power unit has at least doubled compared to last year, which is difficult for some of the smaller teams.”

There are discussions behind the scenes this weekend, especially involving FIA president Jean Todt, Bernie Ecclestone and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, with the latter pushing hard to spice up what he describes as “Formula Boredom”, particularly with reference to the lack of noise from the engines and the drivers being forced to drive “like taxi drivers” because of fuel saving.

Like Ferrari, Red Bull Racing finds itself well behind Mercedes under the new technical regulations. Newey did not spare Renault’s blushes either. Sitting in front of Renault’s Remi Taffin at the evening’s press conference, the body language was very clear and at one point Newey referred a question about when the Renault power unit might match Mercedes to Taffin with the words, “I don’t think we’ve actually got anything particularly different this weekend but in reality, I think you should be asking the person sitting behind me.”

Asked what changes, if any, he would like to see to improve the show from the talks likely to take place in Bharain this weekend, Newey said: “I guess ultimately the spectators and the television viewers are going to vote with their feet. What we say in here won’t make much difference in truth. I think obviously all the talk is about the engines, as mentioned earlier, it’s not just about creating a formula that looks at how many litres of fuel you use per kilometre with everything else fixed, because everything else isn’t fixed in reality. If you go into the real world, cost isn’t fixed, the cost has gone up hugely to create this.”

Newey also questioned the rationale behind the changes to hybrid turbos, questioning the free credentials of the changes, the relevance of the technology and the cost,

“My opinion is from a technical aspect first of all you have to question…the whole thing. When you get into things like batteries then an electric car is only green if it gets its power from a green source. If it gets its power from a coal-fired power station then clearly it’s not green at all. A hybrid car, which is effectively what the Formula One regulations are then a lot of energy goes into manufacturing those batteries and into the cars which is why they’re so expensive.

“And whether that then gives you a negative or a positive carbon footprint or not depends on the duty cycle of the car – how many miles does it do, is it cruising along the motorway at constant speed or stop-starting in a city. So this concept that a hybrid car is automatically green is a gross simplification. On top of that there are other ways, if you’re going to put that cost into a car, to make it fuel efficient. You can make it lighter, you can make it more aerodynamic, both of which are things that Formula One is good at.

“For instance the cars are 10 per cent heavier this year, a result, directly, of the hybrid content. So I think technically, to be perfectly honest, it’s slightly questionable. From a sporting point of view, to me, efficiency, strategy etc, economy of driving, is very well placed for sportscars, which is a slightly different way of going racing. Formula One should be about excitement. It should be about man and machine performing at its maximum every single lap.”

However, sitting next to him in the FIA press conference was Williams technical director Pat Symond who dismissed his old rival’s negativity.

“Many people from the UK will remember a guy called (Gerald) Ratner who basically killed his business by negative comments on it. I think we should be positive. We’ve done something good and we should tell the world about it.

“The technology that we’re employing in Formula One now is impressive. The road car industry – rightly or wrongly – has to hit CO2-per-kilometre targets and those are very difficult targets to meet. And they will have to employ technologies such as we are using in Formula One. So we are moving things forward, we are more relevant than we used to be and I think that’s very important.”

After the press conference, one press room wag pointed out, “Why is it that the people who make the most most money in this sport are the ones so vehemently criticising it?”

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Newey made some fair statements about 2014 regulation changes.. The teams running in front row won’t be supporting the so called negativity, RBR or ferrari or Lotus is having.. F1 racing for an average spectator is all about intense comepetition from start to finish, Cars running full on, Drivers demonstrating the pedal to metal stuff through out.. Now, it has reached to a level that the 95% of viewers who are not falling in the technical expert category started to feel there is some thing going wrong with the game and few of them are switiching back.

Fuel saving, fuel efficient cars, Technology example for road cars all are good but why should F1 racing be a proving ground for these. Let the manufacturers do the R&D for road cars on there own.. IMO the regulatories are trying to redifine the word Flat-out-Racing when it comes to Formula 1..

Hopefully, the fuel limit regulation and exhaust decibel tweaking will be in consideration by teams, while F1 racing will get back the level where ** speed will be a critical measure of success not fuel saving..!! Saying that,, Bahrain GP an was just awesome.


It does appear to be a case of sour grapes. Current winners rarely cricise regulations so strongly. Had he said all this pre-testing I might have given his comments more credence, but now I just think Newey is ruing the lack of fruits of his labours with what may have been a championship winning car with a Mercedes donkey in the back.


Well, Bahrain was hardly boring with overtaking all round the track from No 1 to No 22 from start to finish. Brilliant stuff. Not much sign of taxi racing either. No wonder BE and LDM slunk away before the end.

As for the Red Bull and Ferrari, well they have just got it wrong. Just like 2009 when Brawn got a march on the rest.

The fact that Lewis moved to Merc for 2013 shows that in mid 2012 Mercedes had an engine design idea that was going to revolutionise the power unit.

It will be interesting to see if Honda have a similar design.

And perhaps Volvo should join in – the new V60 184bhp diesel EU figures are 99gm/km. Amazing.


I’m dumbfounded by Newey’s comments here and it reeks of self interest and crying over spoilt milk.

This is the very man who loves ‘a chalenge’ and prefers F1 to be at the pinacle of technology, which is finally is this year.

Even my colleagues who don’t follow F1 are suddenly interested in this new formula, and they think the noise is different and not rediculously loud and irrelevant.

Newey’s attitude reflects, sadly, all of those at Red Bull these days and their belief that they are bigger than the sport. Winning changes you, and it certainly did for Red Bull. The cheek to even threaten to punt Renault, who were a masive force in all of Red BUll’s championships thanks to their V8 and exhaust trickery, demonstrates that.

It also re-affirms my belief that the teams, and idiots like Ecclestone, should never, EVER, be given power over the sport. That is exactly what governing bodies are for. There is just too much dirty self interest and prejudice within that old guard in the paddock (Ecclestone, Luca, Horner et al), and I certainly hope they are marginalized in the near future as this isn’t the 1960s anymore…


Why cant they develop hydrogen fueled engines instead of this “green” electric power


I do wonder about the logic of using hybrid engines to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 and then run the race at night using huge amounts of electricity.


They are all just like children once you take away their shiny toys. In this case, the trophy cabinet has a bit of dust in it for Red Bull, while Ferrari need a cleaner to sort there’s out.

Clearly we would not be hearing any complaints from Newey if the bulls were mopping up the silverware as they got used to. But thanks to a changing formula, we get new stories to talk about as other teams get to shine.

I think secretly we’d all got rather bored of the weekly wagging finger that made racing about as predictable as the weekly trip to the supermarket.

Having said all that, as a fan, F1 should always be about being on the edge – it should strive to constantly pay homage to its roots where drivers had to extract the maximum from the car at all times. If it’s all about tyre management and fuel consumption then it’s not really racing on the edge is it?


I am so tired of people saying the new rules are producing boring racing. WE ARE TWO RACES INTO THE SEASON!!! There have always been some boring races and some exciting races, just like in any sport. If you don’t like it, then please stop threatening to stop watching F1. Just stop watching it, and stop whining.


Just like last years tyres, when it doesn’t suit RBR, it is all horribly wrong!


Anyone who thinks that motor racing is simply about thrashing round as fast as you can has little or no understanding of what is going on. For example, Mr Newey’s complaints about tyres last year worked a treat. Pirelli we forced to change the makeup of the tyres for one which “coincidentally” suited Red Bull better and Hey Presto!, no more complaints from Messrs. Newey, Horner and Mateschitz and Red Bull won all the rest of the races, Big surprise….

You won’t find Adrian Newey et al complaining about the rules if Red Bull are at the front of the grid. Throughout the history of Grand Prix racing, politics and rule bending have been as important as going fast. Remember the Williams with “water-cooled” brakes and the Brabham (then owned by a certain Mr Ecclestone) “fan” car to name just two. Both were later deemed to be outside the rules.

Fuel economy is nothing new either – remember Jack Brabham running out of fuel a hundred yards from the end of the 1959 US Grand Prix thus handing Bruce McLaren his first F1 victory. If Brabham had driven with a lighter throttle he would have finished in the points and still won his Championship.

The same is true of tyre wear. In many races over the years, not just in recent times, the result have been strongly influenced by tyre wear, The driver capable of being kinder to his tyres winning or finishing higher than the others. This is as true of Fangio and Ascari or Senna and Prost as it is of the current batch of drivers.

As regards noise, how many of the complainants have actually been to a race and heard the current cars and so compared them to previous years? Not very many! They are still noisy but not as dangerously loud as the last few years. Not having to wear ear protection is surely a plus. Volume is not necessarily good…..

So let’s all grow up a bit and see what is going on for what it really is. The racing is as good as ever and the best team/driver combination will win; just as it did in 1950 with Farina winning for Alfa Romeo and so on all through the years. At least we don’t kill three drivers every season any more!!



Newey is making himself sound like a sore loser and, like he said its nice to see different teams winning. Stop moaning like a knob jockey “adrian” and design a better car. You can’t just change the rules because your not winning anymore rbr and Ferrari. Get used to losing


Firstly, if people want to wax lyrical about the “green footprint” as it were then they might like to consider less fly away races and spend more time racing in europe. The carbon cost of getting the cars and teams to a venue most likely exceeds all the running done during that weekend by ALL the cars involved, including the support races. But that aside there is some relevance of reducing the engine size “for the benefit of road going cars” since most people don’t own cars running 2.4 litre V8 engines. I like the new turbo plants, I like the new engine note and noise as I can now hear what else is happening. I know many people like the thunder of an F1 race and if thre are ways to increase the decibel output of the new power trains while retaining the ability to hear the screech of tires as Sebastian Vettel spins out at turn 3 then I’m all for it.

Mr Newey is a fantastically talented designer and engineer, I think this year he’s done his job as always. Construct the most aerodynamically tight package around and engine and the bloke in front of it. However his plan doesn’t seem to be working well yet, the engine suppliers have let him down, he has under estimated the cooling requirements of the new power plants, the loss of grip at the rear wheels and the list goes on.

He is famous for finding the areas of greatest “greyness” within the tech regs and fully exploiting them, blown diffusers, off throttle diffusers, engine maps etc. This year he seems to have missed one of the biggest early season advantages because it has nothing to do with the aero package. I think Mercedes using splitting the turbo components up is a frankly breathtakingly simple idea that no one has ever considered before (to my knowledge). Whats more it’s an advantage his team will NEVER have this season since the power trains are homologated and I don’t think even Renault could convince they need to move theirs. Sour grapes indeed…


Some general thoughts:


Do I like it?, yes. Is it essential to F1? I would say no, and besides it dont seem like the V6s are mute anyway

Will it drive fans away from the track? No more than expensive tickets


I dont like artificial devices in principle, but given present aerodynamics, it is the least worst option to no passing at all, and having faster drivers held up by slower ones

Besides, I think us fans have an idea where drivers just push a button and fly past, but there are many variables involved, and is not that straightforward

Second option is to cut even further on wings and allow for closer racing


Want more fans on track? Have cheap races close to larger fan base. I cant fly to Bahrein and pay for plane, hotel plus tickets, only affluent Europeans, Aussies and Japanese can. Locals probably dont go on track in India, Korea, etc., because tickets are too expensive, not because they dont like F1


Just like the teams, we can not agree on everything, so even with the mother of all polls someone suggested, there will always be different opinions

The powers that be should listen, and we have become more vocal, but in the end they (FIA) should decide whats best


Someone already proved speed is relative. If the car is doing 280 or 320 you cant tell from trackside or on the TV screen. The new cars are faster on straights and slower on corners than the previous ones, so what?

The main thing is that they are driven to their full potential, not how fast they are actually going

Race management

In the old days drivers had to manage tyres, fuel, engine, gearbox or they broke. Now they have to do it for imposed conditions: degrading tyres, fuel limits, but end result is similar, otherwise it would be racing for 1, 2 laps then follow each other for 50 laps, more so when cars speed is largely defined by the teams budget

I do think, regardless of strategic decisions, drivers should be able to push closer to the cars limit

Having less driveable cars, like these new ones seem to be, is one of the few elements that add to the sport and the show

Sport or Show

FIAs thoughest job is to regulate a sport that provides a good show. Some of us like the sport more, regardless of the show conditions, others want a better show, regardless of the fairness of it

And on top it has to do it with by dealing with state of the art technology, so who has the best solution? Todt, Bernie, Newey, Random, Goferet? Hell, not even James Allen has it


Like most dictators, Bernie was great when he started and he singlehandedly put a little known elite sport into worlwide TVs, but he should move over soon for the sports sake

F1 bosses crying

I find it hard to believe that Mr Todt decided on his own to change the rules and Bernie, Luca et al had no idea what would happen

There are tech commitees, sporting commitees, commercial commitees and a now defunct FOCA where they should have voiced their opinions beforehand, not after 3 years of development and manufacturing

Of course it is difficult to agree with your competitors, but if they dont even try, then they have to live with whatever the rules say, however awkward they may be


When RB started I was a big fan, I liked the spirit and the fact that they were giving the big boys a run for their money

They became successful on merit and I admire that, but in a few years they have become more arrogant and ruthless than the worst ever from Ferrari

Threathening to quit, to leave Renault, to blast the present rules sounds to me like very poor spotsmanship, and even, a bad business decision, they might end up with Bernie cutting down on their money, Renault refusing to supply engines, FIA not listening to their opinions, and even fans not buying drinks

Pardon the long speech but it is a long time before the race starts


In Indycar… Their cars have powerful engines that are a rival to F1(not talking about economy, I’m talking about a proper RACING engine, the thing you never hear about in f1 now). I don’t know about laptimes yet…. But they’re really not far off and this becomes embarrassingly apparent when you consider that they spend maybe 10% of the budget of an average F1 team. $20 million. Granted, F1 is better in every way, especially finesse of details and aero.


I RBR should break there engine (power unit) contract and and get a Mercedes unit and i think everyone would be a little happier at RBR.


I have only skimmed the comments on this article, forgive me if I repeat.

I saw Toto Wolff’s comments regrading this and I believe he is spot on. Who is complaining? Ferrari and RBR; no surprise they are the two works (preferred in RBRs case) teams, who have not done the job that Merc has done. They are embarrassed by how badly Merc has jumped them on the new formula and rather than put their heads down and do better, they are deriding the sport. Wolff said as much in his comments; something to the effect of don’t complain about the sport, rather take a look in the mirror.

Fans want to believe the formula is doing the sport harm. What is really harming the sport is the cynicism shown by some of the biggest players, when they are not in a leading position. Ferrari have shown for years now that they are inept at building and developing a top car. RBR chose to pile on and destroy the field last season, while Merc went about getting ready for this season. These teams need to look in the mirror when they are not getting the job done, rather than deriding the sport and the new formula. I expect this from Ferrari, but am disappointed that Newey has gone down this road. He is one of the class acts of the sport. My opinion on him has definitely changed because of this.


Why didn’t they just shorten the races to save fuel (and a set of tyres?)?


I always said that Current regs are for sportscars. However this won’t change so better get on it … No way back…


It’ll be interesting to see what happens. The FIA has shown itself in recent times to be susceptible to this kind of orchestrated pressure – e.g. with the tyre change last year.

There is clearly a vocal group of fans who don’t like the rules and/or the spectacle, and Newey, Horner, et al will no doubt be playing to those people as much as they can.

Personally I like what I’ve seen of the racing so far. The cars move around and have more torque than grip, which makes for a bigger emphasis on car control. If the FIA can resist pressure to change things, we’ll see how it pans out once the teams have got on top of all the variables.


Hard to think much of Red Bull and their management when they react this way. I highly doubt they’d be complaining so much if they were winning. Don’t see why journalists don’t make that the story.


Shame. I would expect better from Newey.

Deep down we all know that F1 technology has very little relevance to road cars, but the previous regulations dominated by aerodynamics were even worse in this regard.

kenneth chapman

that was simply because of the ridiculous engine freeze adopted by the FIA. where else could the cars be developed?

freezing development in what should be a development series is stupid in the extreme…is it not?


No because without it you would have an arms race and only rich teams would survive

It would kill the middle sized and small teams

kenneth chapman

james, how could the FIA and F1 in general claim that F1 was the ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport when development of the engine was frozen?

maybe some of the middle teams would have suffered, so what? if they can’t afford to be competetive they shouldn’t be there. does stifling technical development contribute anything to the racing?

as for the ‘small’ teams, well i sometimes question why they are there at all? when cars are being lapped continuously what can they actually bring to the table. i would far prefer to see eight three car teams where the quality of the cars would provide for more competetive racing at a lesser cost. can you name any backmarker team that has, based on their own strengths, made it to the top or even the middle to high range as i can’t.

Martin (England)

If you cant stand the heat get out of the kitchen, time for Newey to retire and go and design a boat or something, there are plenty of young guns coming through to take his place, he has had his time.


Looks like/sounds like a carbon copy of the original tyre construction crusade of 2013.

Push here, pull there, squeeze here, scream some more and chances are changes might be made that will suit us best!


I kind of agree with newey, esp with regards to how non green etc these new engines are. Ok it’s a step but like these electric road cars it’s still using fossil fuel.

Maybe if genuinely serious about being green they should go down the hydrogen engine route. I remember seeing it on top gear. Think honda developed it?

Oh and don’t get me started on formula e

Excuse my little rant


Newey is just a [mod]


Don’t darken the door of this site again. There is no place at all for posts like this one. Apologies that it slipped through mod first time – [Mod]

kenneth chapman

what a lovely post that is?

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