SEPTEMBER 9, 1996
REPORTS in Germany last week suggested that Adrian Newey has agreed to join the McLaren Mercedes team in 1997. The story - which we suggested was likely as long ago as June - is understood to have been leaked to German journalists by Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug.
There is no question that Newey wants to work for McLaren but there is the rather pressing matter of a lucrative contract between Newey and Williams which lasts until the end of the 1999 season. Newey could simply leave Williams and begin working with McLaren. This would probably result in the need for compensation to be paid by McLaren to Williams. This does not, however, fit in with Ron Dennis's oft-stated McLaren policy of never breaking contracts. Contracts have to be negotiated away before moves are made, rather than afterwards.
Frank Williams is extremely unlikely to agree to let Newey go - even for vast sums of money - and so there is likely to be legal action if he tries to join McLaren without Williams's agreement. The only way around the contract, if Williams will not sell, is for Newey to prove that Williams has breached their agreement. This might end up in court - with Newey on the sidelines - unless Williams can be convinced that he is going to lose the case.
We await developments with interest...
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