Adrian Newey has played down paddock speculation that he will walk away from Formula 1 should Red Bull Racing clinch the crown this year – admitting that whilst stability in the regulations removes much of the appeal for him as a designer, he still 'tremendously enjoys' the challenge posed by the top flight.
Newey has been famously described as the only man to have almost as many grands prix as Michael Schumacher, with his innovative and forward-thinking cars having claimed no fewer than twelve championship titles for Williams and McLaren and more than 80 races over the past decade-and-a-half.
Arguably the most famous and successful designer in F1 history, the 50-year-old moved to Red Bull back in late 2007, and though his arrival was too late to have any great impact on the energy drinks-backed outfit's 2008 machine, his presence has certainly been felt in 2009.
With a brace of victories for Sebastian Vettel in China and Britain, and a breakthrough triumph for Mark Webber at the Nürburgring in Germany, Red Bull is undeniably the team in-form as the campaign sprints towards its conclusion, with Newey's baby – the Renault-powered RB5 – proving to be the most consistent and by-and-large fastest contender on the starting grid.
Brawn GP's early-season dominance and the 'double-decker' diffuser controversy may have left RBR playing a game of catch-up in the second half of the season, but Webber and Vettel are catching up fast. Red Bull's chief technical officer knows that in order to continue doing so, there can be absolutely no let-up between now and Abu Dhabi in just over two months' time.
“It obviously feels very good,” he responded, when asked by the official F1 website about Red Bull's new-found front-running form, “however the irony is that it never feels as though you are doing anything different. We continue to work hard and be intelligent with our resources, and it is extremely rewarding that this year that the fruits of this determination are at last being realised.
“We believe the issues [regarding teams' relative performances fluctuating from race-to-race] mainly relate to the temperature of the tyres, certainly with particular compounds that Bridgestone bring to the track at any given race weekend. It certainly does cause swings in performance between teams, but circuit characteristics also play a part. Hungary is quite a slow, bumpy circuit and therefore different in its make-up compared with a circuit such as Silverstone or Germany where our performance was stronger.
“As with all regulation changes, [the in-season testing ban] is something we have to factor in to our plans. We have had to change the way we introduce parts to the car, and we test more on a Friday than we have in previous seasons. It is all part of the challenge.
“We are continually testing and developing the car in the wind tunnel, but any parts we find that will enhance the performance of the car will be produced and added to the car as quickly as possible. [Had he known double diffusers would be pronounced legal], the car would have been very different, for sure, and it has been difficult for us to properly integrate the double diffuser as our rear suspension package is very much suited to a single diffuser arrangement. It has certainly been more challenging with the double diffuser.”