APRIL 28, 1997
Newey joins McLaren
AS we predicted in June last year Adrian Newey is to join McLaren, becoming technical director of the team on August 1. Neither Williams nor McLaren will make further comment but it seems fairly clear that McLaren will have had to pay a sizable sum in compensation to Williams to convince Frank to agree to release Newey from the contract with Williams which ran until the end of 1999.
"I really enjoyed my time with Williams," said Newey. "Together we had a lot of success and I still get on very well with Frank (Williams). I am basically very glad that we did not end up in court. I think it would have been a shame if we had ended up battling each other across a courtroom."
Newey admits that the starting date in August will make it very difficult for him to have much of an input in the 1998 McLaren-Mercedes.
"It is going to be difficult. Normally if there were no regulation changes the start of August would be leaving it late but it would be possible. You could do it by building on the data you have from previous cars. But next year's regulations are probably the biggest shake-up we have had for a very long time in F1 - probably bigger even than the stepped bottom rules which came in at the beginning of 1995. If you have a major rule change like that you need to start the research earlier than normal because you cannot use the previous car as the reference point. In that sense August 1 is a problem. It is much later than would be ideal but it is just a matter of getting on with it. I am sure the McLaren engineers will have done research work and I will have to work with them."
McLaren's Ron Dennis hopes that recruiting Newey will return McLaren to the winning ways of the late 1980s. Since Honda quit F1 at the end of 1992, McLaren has struggled with Ford, Peugeot and Mercedes engines, failing to win a race until David Coulthard's fortunate victory in Melbourne. The arrival of Newey will introduce new ideas at McLaren but one of the major problems is that McLaren needs to upgrade its facilities to be able to compete with Williams and the team's new factory will not be up and running before the year 2000.
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