Red Bull has never had as much focus on its car and attempts made to slow the team down behind the scenes as it is facing this year, according to Adrian Newey.
Mercedes has won the past seven drivers’ and constructors’ championships since the V6 turbo regulations were introduced in 2014, but this year is the first time a rival team has been able to mount a sustained challenge. Ferrari has threatened on occasion over that time, but with Red Bull now in the midst of its first title fight since 2013, the chief technical officer says that renewed competitiveness has led to a lot of controversy behind the scenes.
“It’s absolutely correct to say that top teams are only interested in what their main rivals are up to, and not particularly worried about what a team at the other end of the grid are doing,” Newey said. “In many ways it is a compliment to the team to find ourselves under such scrutiny from others.
“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 Formula 1, and one of the things that makes it so stimulating, but it is the frequency and intensity of this year that is quite telling.”
Newey says that 2021 is one of the most intense championship battles he has ever been involved in, and believes that is partly driven by the way Red Bull conducts itself in public.
“As the viewing figures and the size of the teams have increased, Formula 1 has become a much bigger business and with that comes more media spin and political maneuvring,” he said.
“I think what is great about our team, and this comes very much from the ethos of Dietrick Mateschitz and the Red Bull outlook, is that we are here to win, but we want to do it our way and in a clean way so we can stand up proudly when we do take wins.
“We are also a straight-talking team, both internally and externally. We do show our emotions and we are proud of that openness in the way we work, and for me it is a refreshing environment to be in.”