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   Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Newey's magic touch
Jaguar are battling to prise Newey from McLaren
Newey's flirtation with Jaguar has rocked F1
BBC Sport Online's Andrew Benson profiles in-demand Formula One designer Adrian Newey.

Many people outside Formula One were probably wondering why there was so much fuss about the tug-of-war between McLaren and Jaguar over the services of designer Adrian Newey.

To put it in bald terms, had Newey ended up moving to Jaguar, it would be the most important thing to happen in F1 for several years.

Newey, an unassuming and quietly-spoken 42-year-old, is seen as probably more crucial an ingredient in the quest for success than Michael Schumacher.

Adrian is the best - it's as simple as that

Jordan's Trevor Foster
That may sound like a wild exaggeration to anyone who believes that F1 revolves around the men who do the racing every other Sunday afternoon.

But as Williams and McLaren have proved over the last decade, if you have the best car, you can win huge numbers of races, and the world championship, without Schumacher.

Overnight success

And the common denominator in those Williams and McLaren successes is Adrian Newey.

As Martin Brundle, Grand Prix driver-turned commentator, says: "If I was doing my Fantasy F1, and I could only afford Newey or Schumacher, then I would have Newey.

"The conceptual side of F1 car design is so critical. A driver can stand up in the seat and drive at 11/10ths and be super-human, but in the end he can't make the difference.

Nigel Mansell in 1994
Williams dominated the 1990s with Newey
"He can maybe do better than the car should be doing. But if somebody else has fundamentally got a significantly better car than you, over 70 laps, he's going to beat you, as long as he's a world-class driver."

For evidence, you only have to look at how in 1992 and 1996, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher were helpless to stop Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill winning the title in Newey-designed Williams cars.

His cars have racked up 13 drivers' and constructors' titles since he joined Williams for 1991. The other titles were all won by cars driven by either Senna or Schumacher.

There are those who think Newey is over-rated.

They point to the fact that his reputation has been built at Williams and McLaren. They are teams that were on the up when he joined them, needing only a little bit of extra flair to take the step that made them the best.

Re-defining the limits

Yet it is difficult to exaggerate the difference Newey made when he joined McLaren on 1 August, 1997.

The first car designed with him in charge, 1998's MP4-13, turned overnight a team that had been knocking on the door of success after a three-year barren patch into the dominant force in F1.

Newey is not the only star designer in the sport. Patrick Head of Williams, with whom Newey worked from 1990-96, and Rory Byrne of Ferrari, are also widely-admired.

Williams' technical director Patrick Head
Technical respect: Patrick Head

But Newey is nevertheless regarded as "The Man" when it comes to leading the design of the fastest possible car - if not necessarily the most reliable - for any given year.

His secret is making the most efficient aerodynamics work well alongside things like suspension and ride.

Many designers can work out how to pile a load of downforce on to a car. Newey's genius comes from doing this without sacrificing other things. This was the magic ingredient Newey added to McLaren when he joined in the summer of 1997.

The result in 1998 was a car that left everyone else in F1 open-mouthed, redefining the limits of what the other teams had thought was possible.

McLaren may have lost some championships to Ferrari since then - the constructors in 1999 and both last year - but even now their car is the best in F1. That is the sort of performance into which Jaguar hoped it was buying.

As Jordan managing director Trevor Foster says: "There are no coincidences in F1. Adrian is the best. It's as simple as that."

Newey's move making the news

Designer in dispute


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