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Newey stops work at Grove

THE Williams team's chief designer Adrian Newey is "on leave" and we understand that legal action has begun between the team and Newey.

Work has effectively finished on the Williams-Renault FW19 - which is to be unveiled in January - and Newey is trying to find a way out of his Williams contract so that he can go to work for McLaren. Newey has a contract with Williams until the end of the 1999 season but is understood to want more control than Williams technical director Patrick Head is willing to give. McLaren's Ron Dennis appears to be promising Newey not only technical control of the team but also a lot more money than Williams is willing to give.

Whatever the outcome of the legal actions it is now fairly clear that Newey will not be staying at Williams. He will probably have to take time off from F1 until the dispute is settled. Williams would like to delay his arrival at McLaren for as long as possible. It is already too late for Adrian to have any effect on the McLaren-Mercedes MP4/12 and Williams would like to stop him being involved in the design of the 1998 car as well. Newey will want to be involved as early as possible in that process - and certainly no later than August 1997. If Williams can delay matters until then McLaren will have to do without Newey again. There are drawbacks to this course of action because it is very hard to stop Newey advising McLaren engineers, but at the same time Williams cannot replace Newey with a new chief designer to work on the 1998 car without risking legal action from Adrian for breach of his contract.

There is already speculation as to who will replace Newey at Williams with the names of Jordan's Gary Anderson, Tyrrell's Mike Coughlan and ex-Lotus engineer Chris Murphy being mentioned. Williams may, of course, choose to promote internally which means that chief aerodynamicist Geoff Willis is a possible Newey replacement.

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