Adrian Newey has revealed he turned down a “ridiculously large” offer from Ferrari to leave Red Bull when it started struggling under new power unit regulations in 2014.
Having won the previous four constructors’ and drivers’ championship titles, Red Bull’s run of success was brought to an end when Mercedes started to dominate under the V6 power unit regulations. Revealing he was approached by Mercedes and an LMP1 team at the time, the Red Bull chief technical officer admits the most tempting offer came from Ferrari.
“I’d been courted by them before, but this time they meant business,” Newey wrote in his book ‘How to Build a Car.’ “I traveled to visit Luca Montezemolo, the president of Ferrari at the time, seeing him at his farmhouse close to Tuscany. We held serious talks and their offer was amazing.
“Luca wanted to give me the whole Ferrari operation, road and racecar. The promise was of an almost film-star lifestyle and the most ridiculously large financial offer, well over double the already generous salary I was receiving at Red Bull.
“I had a very difficult decision to make, and it was one that cost me many nights’ sleep as I went over and over the various factors; family, cultural, work differences, the chances of success or failure, the repercussions of either… But in the end I thanked Luca and turned him down.”
Explaining the difficulty of the decision to Sky Sports, Newey says his past achievements with Red Bull were a deciding factor despite the lack of competitiveness at the time.
“It became evident that the Renault was a long way behind the Mercedes in particular and to some extent the Ferrari – with no obvious end in sight. Renault didn’t seem to be willing to put the funding in to really sort the problem out, which was the depressing and worrying bit.
“I was in a bit of a difficult position. I didn’t want to walk out of Red Bull because it feels like home and I’d been heavily involved from the start with Christian [Horner], building the team up from the ashes of Jaguar to where it was today. I didn’t want to walk out on that but equally I didn’t want to be in a position where we were operating with one hand tied behind our back in the engine department.
“It was a very difficult decision. Ferrari came up with an incredible offer, very attractive, and it caused me a lot of sleepless nights deciding what to do and who to go for. In the end, it would have felt wrong to walk out on Red Bull.”