What Adrian Newey’s bombshell Red Bull departure means for Max Verstappen’s F1 future

Max Verstappen has been linked with moves away from Red Bull and noise around it will grow as Adrian Newey will leave the team

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Adrian Newey is set to stun the motorsport world by announcing a departure from the Red Bull team, citing an internal power struggle as his motivation. The exodus might not end with the Formula 1 genius quitting, as Max Verstappen could quickly follow him out of the door too.

The defending world champions have been locked in a dispute involving Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and Jos Verstappen, according to reports, ever since the death of Dietrich Mateschitz, founder the Austrian energy drinks brand, in 2022.

In the wake of Mateschitz’s passing, tensions have continued to rise and it culminated at the start of February when Horner was investigated for inappropriate conduct towards a female employee, before alleged chats of WhatsApp conversations were leaked to over 145 journalists during the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend at the start of March.

Whilst Horner was cleared of wrongdoing by the team, enjoying the backing of the Thai shareholders, it appears to have done irreparable damage to the long-term security of their F1 dominance as the Verstappen’s began shopping around Mercedes and now Newey has jumped ship too.

Although Verstappen did appear to reaffirm his commitment to Red Bull until 2026, the departure of the Chief Technical Officer of the world champions is a huge spanner into the works, so could Toto Wolff or Mike Krack expect a phone call anytime soon?

The 26-year-old appears to have had four priorities to remain at Red Bull: Marko stays in the team, their engine is Honda-inspired, there is a calm working environment, and they are not a midfield team. If those things were met, then he seemed content to stay at the side he joined in 2016.

Right now, it appears that the tranquillity goal isn’t being met as we watch an F1 team collapse in real-time in one of the most incredible and unprecedented stories in the history of the sport.

Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey celebrate victory after the 2024 Japanese GP | Clive Mason / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey celebrate victory after the 2024 Japanese GP | Clive Mason / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen to Aston Martin

So, could he immediately head to Aston Martin? Lance Stroll has dropped hints that he could leave the sport after years of underwhelming performances and a seeming dwindling motivation opening a door for Verstappen to partner Fernando Alonso.

The pair get along very well and have even alluded to racing in the World Endurance Championship together, so they have the makings of a strong driver pairing. Getting even sweeter is that Newey himself might end up at Aston Martin after Lawrence Stroll began preliminary talks with him at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Then, of course, there is the added benefit of Honda. The Japanese engine supplier did quit F1 at the end of 2021 but they haven’t waited long to join back as they will become the exclusive supplier to Aston Martin from 2026 – the same sort of client-contractor service they had with Red Bull.

Lawrence Stroll is also very committed to the Aston Martin project after he recently opened state of the art facilities to catapult them to the right end of the grid and they enjoyed a very strong 2023 after going from one of the slowest cars to one of the fastest over the span of one winter.

Stroll is not short on the cash either. The billionaire would be willing to lay down any amount of money to land the sport’s best driver at the moment, provided it doesn’t strain his relationship with his own son too much, so it isn’t like Verstappen won’t be able to keep, or better, his current Red Bull salary.

With Aston Martin essentially becoming Red Bull lite at the moment, they appear to be the clear next step for him as they offer much of the perks that he currently already enjoys.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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