F1: How Lewis Hamilton could help create Ferrari dream team with Adrian Newey

F1: How Lewis Hamilton could help create Ferrari dream team with Adrian Newey

There are two stark choices open to Adrian Newey.

One is to follow the lead of most of his fellow 65-year-olds and look towards retirement. The other is to answer Ferrari’s tempting call, with an initial third choice — a possible switch to Aston Martin — already appearing to have been dismissed.

The timing of Newey’s Red Bull exit would suggest he has one final throw of the dice in Formula One.

Red Bull could have held him to a lengthy gardening leave which would have seen him unable to join a team until the 2027 season. Instead, they have effectively allowed him to finish his pet project — the RB17 hypercar — and then head wherever he chooses come the spring of next year.

It is thought he met Ferrari team chief Fred Vasseur in London last week while plotting his Red Bull extrication.

The timing is ripe for him to have a completely free stab at the new regulations for 2026, which effectively are a major shake-up of both chassis and engines.

Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Newey would be a blockbuster partnership (Various)
Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Newey would be a blockbuster partnership (Various)

The line from Red Bull is that there has been no talk of where Newey might head next, but he makes no secret of being a motor-racing nerd, a speed thrillseeker on the track in his free time.

Ferrari has a lure like no other in F1, its iconic cars, branding and drivers having already proved too much for Lewis Hamilton to resist. And it is no different for those outside of the cockpit, such as Newey, who is well-versed in the Maranello outfit’s history, brought up with it and having raced against it first hand.

For too much of the iconic brand’s time in the sport, though, it has been accused of having a “spaghetti culture”, an occasionally chaotic existence.

And all was clearly not well at the end of the 2022 season, when Mattia Binotto was axed as team principal and Vasseur brought in in his place. It left some scratching their heads, but Vasseur has been popular with drivers and the entire workforce alike.

Around him has begun the building blocks of which there are echoes of the team’s period of dominance with Michael Schumacher.

It was Jean Todt, brought in as general manager, who signed the German early in his reign, the pair then liaising to snap up Ross Brawn towards the end of Schumacher’s first season in red.

Ferrari chairman John Elkann has done something similar, but with what looks like relative haste from the outside looking in. When he got whiff of Hamilton being unhappy at Mercedes, Elkann pounced and signed his man. There was no time for sentiment, with Carlos Sainz sent packing to make room in cut-throat fashion.

Ferrari have long been suitors of Newey and, while nothing has been publicly tabled, the conversations are ongoing. The suggestion is a salary of £30million might be heading his way and something of a loose role as super consultant will be how it is labelled.

Whether Hamilton is required to enter the fray to aid such negotiations remains to be seen, but he has long been an admirer of the technical guru. The first McLaren he drove, in 2007, was based on the original model created by Newey, and the chance for two of F1’s most iconic figures — its most successful driver and designer — joining forces is a salivating prospect.

Hamilton said: “Adrian Newey doesn’t generally build bad cars. My first McLaren championship car was an evolution of his car.”

When asked last month about Newey potentially joining him at Ferrari, he said simply: “It’s not my decision.”

On reflection, however, Hamilton’s response suggested such talks were already bubbling under the surface. At a time when F1 has become predictable on track, the prospect of a triumvirate of Ferrari, Hamilton and Newey is a mouth-watering one.