Max Verstappen says he ‘doesn’t blame’ Adrian Newey for leaving Red Bull in Formula 1 ‘shark tank’

Max Verstappen has given his reaction to confirmation that legendary designer Adrian Newey will leave Red Bull next year; watch every session of the Sprint weekend in Miami live on Sky Sports F1, with Sprint Qualifying at 9.30pm on Friday

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Max Verstappen says although he was disheartened by Adrian Newey’s choice to leave Red Bull, he understands and wishes the best for him

Max Verstappen says he “doesn’t blame” Adrian Newey for leaving Red Bull because it’s important to prioritise yourself in Formula 1’s “shark tank”.

Red Bull announced on Wednesday that the legendary designer will leave after 19 years with the team in April 2025, with speculation growing that he could take up an offer to join Ferrari.

Confirmation of Newey’s exit comes after a sustained period of turbulence at Red Bull, which has seen three-time reigning world champion Verstappen’s own future come into question.

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“I would have preferred, of course, for Adrian to stay,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.

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Jenson Button discusses whether Adrian Newey’s departure from Red Bull might affect Max Verstappen’s future with the team. You can listen to the latest episode of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast now

“But at the end of the day, and that’s what I also said to Adrian, you have to do what you think is best for yourself, because at the end of the day, F1 is a bit of a shark tank. And I think it’s very important that you do think about yourself, that you make the right decisions for yourself and your family.

“So I also don’t blame him. If someone wants to leave, you go and pursue other goals or things in life, so that’s absolutely fine.”

‘Newey exit not as dramatic as it seems’

Newey’s exit came after a cooling of his relationship with team principal Christian Horner, with apparent differences developing over Newey’s status and importance within Red Bull’s technical team.

The atmosphere at Red Bull has also been clouded by a period of sustained turbulence following the investigation earlier this year by their Austrian parent company into allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Horner by a female colleague. The grievance against Horner, who has always denied the claims, was dismissed on February 28. The woman who brought the complaint has since appealed the outcome.

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After the news of his Red Bull exit, F1 drivers pay homage to Adrian Newey

Following the allegations against Horner, a perceived power struggle at Red Bull has been playing out with Horner coming under heavy pressure after his star driver’s father, Jos Verstappen, called for the team principal to leave.

Asked about the impact of all that has happened in Red Bull at recent months, Verstappen said: “All of these things a couple of years ago would have been a bit unexpected, but I think it’s always very important to remain calm and focused on your job, know who you’re working with, feel comfortable.

“At the end of the day, we need to have the fastest car. That’s what I always demanded, that’s what we finally got for a couple of years now, and we have a very strong technical team that are part of the team for a long time. So basically, it goes on like it was going before.”

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Lewis Hamilton said Adrian Newey would be an amazing addition to Ferrari after the chief technical officer confirmed his exit from Red Bull this week

While paying tribute to Newey’s work with the team, which has seen them win seven constructors’ titles since he joined in 2006, Verstappen appeared to back up Horner’s suggestion that Red Bull’s technical team has evolved in recent years to rely less on the 65-year-old.

“Adrian, from when he started at Red Bull, he was incredibly important for the success that they had,” Verstappen said. “I think, over time, his role has changed a bit and I think a lot of people don’t understand what he was actually doing. I don’t say he was not doing anything, but his role has evolved. A lot of good people came into the team that have strengthened that whole department.

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Sergio Perez reacts to the news of Adrian Newey’s departure from Red Bull, insisting the team can still flourish without the legendary F1 designer

“Of course, I would have preferred him to stay, for sure, because you can always rely on his experience. And just as a person, he’s a great guy to chat to and relate to. Because he’s very bright, very smart, but he would also talk to the driver and interpret that into the car, in terms of he would try to imagine himself driving.

“But I also really trust that the technical that we have, outside of Adrian, is very, very strong and they have basically shown that the last few years with how competitive the car is. From the outside it looks very dramatic, but I think if you actually know what is happening inside the team, it’s not as dramatic as it seems.”

‘Wolff should always be optimistic over trying to sign me’

Amid the tension at Red Bull, Verstappen has been repeatedly linked with a switch to Mercedes, whose team principal Toto Wolff has said he would “love” to sign the Dutchman.

Wolff said at the previous round of the 2024 season in China that he was “waiting” on Verstappen to make a decision on his future as Mercedes seek a replacement for when Lewis Hamilton joins Ferrari next year.

Verstappen is contracted to remain with Red Bull until the end of the 2028 season and insists he is intent on staying with the team “at the moment”.

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George Russell reflects on Adrian Newey’s Red Bull departure while discussing the possibility of both Max Verstappen and Newey becoming moving to Mercedes

Asked whether Wolff’s comments seemed strange given Verstappen’s plans, the world champion replied: “No because I think everyone should always be optimistic and hopeful with things but at the moment, I can say that I want to stay with the team because I believe in the project we have, with everyone involved.

“But at the end of the day, in sports and also in life, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”

The most decisive factor in Verstappen’s future would appear to be where he thinks he will be best placed to continue winning when radical new regulations are introduced in 2026.

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Toto Wolff responds to the rumours that Max Verstappen could potentially join Mercedes if he were to leave Red Bull

Mercedes have failed to compete with Red Bull under the current regulations that were brought in for the 2022 season, and realistically have little hope of overturning their deficit until 2026.

“It’s about performance because I know myself if I’m driving for P5 or P6, you get quite grumpy with yourself. It’s always about performance at the end of the day.

“Everyone knows that, even Toto knows that.

“This [2026] is something I’m not really thinking about too much at the moment. There’s so much going on this year with the performance that I want to do well next year as well, where I still think we have a great chance of doing well. 2026 in that sense is still quite far away.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Miami GP schedule

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Managing partner of the 2024 Miami GP Tom Garfinkel tells Sky Sports’ Craig Slater the improvements they have made to the track and it’s surroundings to improve the experience for both competitors and spectators

Friday May 3
3pm: F1 Academy Practice 1
5pm: Miami GP Practice One (session starts at 5.30pm)
8.20pm: F1 Academy Practice 2
9pm: Miami GP Sprint Qualifying (session starts at 9:30pm)

Saturday May 4
3.25pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
4pm: Miami GP Sprint (race starts at 5pm)
6.30pm: Ted’s Sprint Notebook
7.05pm: F1 Academy Race 1
8pm: Miami GP Qualifying build-up*
9pm: Miami GP Qualifying*
11pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook*

Sunday May 5
6.05pm: F1 Academy Race 2
7.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Miami GP build-up*
11pm: Chequered Flag: Miami GP reaction*
Midnight: Ted’s Notebook*

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

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