Ferrari, Williams or elsewhere: Where next for Adrian Newey?

Will Lewis Hamilton attract Adrian Newey to Ferrari? (1:45)

Nate Saunders assesses Adrian Newey's options when he leaves Red Bull in 2025. (1:45)

The future of Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey continues to dominate headlines, with multiple options open to him should he decide to stay in Formula One after the two-time defending constructors' champions announced he would leave the team in early 2025.

To many, a dream move to Ferrari seems like the best option, although Williams has emerged as a candidate, while the likes of Aston Martin, McLaren and Mercedes have been speculated as potential destinations. Newey's intentions are not fully known, but he appears happy to take his time before making a decision.

Should the 65-year-old opt against retirement, he will have no shortage of options available to him in the paddock. Which would suit him best, and which would set the stage for a page-turning chapter in his storybook F1 career?

The strongest option: Ferrari

However you look at it, this is the dreamiest of dream moves and, according to multiple ESPN sources, appears to be the strongest option. Newey has spoken about his regret at never moving to Ferrari in the past despite multiple approaches from the Italian team. Over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, video circulated on social media of a grinning Newey signing a fan's Ferrari flag before laughing and walking away. Reports have also emerged of the Neweys looking for a house somewhere in the Modena region.

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The Ferrari move would immediately tick off another bucket list item for Newey in giving him the opportunity to work with Lewis Hamilton, who he expressed regret at not building a car for in an appearance on F1's "Beyond the Grid" podcast last year. Newey would immediately be overseeing car design for Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, which is as strong a driver pairing as you could wish to have.

An added bonus would be on Ferrari's road car side. It's hard to imagine any move for Newey being only F1-related. He designed the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar in conjunction with Red Bull. Ferrari's world-renowned road cars are part of the brand's almost mythical status, and the options on that side of the company are an incredible incentive for Ferrari to include in any offer they might make.

Then there's Ferrari recent F1 past to consider. The team has not won the drivers' championship since 2007 or the constructors' championship since 2008. Team boss Frédéric Vasseur has been aggressive in building a team to end that run. Any driver-designer-team boss combo which reestablishes Ferrari as F1's dominant force will be elevated to a legendary status we haven't seen for some time. It's a tantalising prospect for all involved.

Outside bets: Williams, McLaren

Williams has emerged as a left-field option for Newey over the past few weeks, with team boss James Vowles stating on a number of occasions that he wants to bring the designer back to the team he first won a championship with. That aspect alone is what makes this move so appealing: Newey helped turn Williams into the dominant team of the early- to mid-1990s, but the team has fallen on hard times in the two and a half decades since.

If it wasn't Vowles saying it, it might be harder to buy this as an option, but his ambition and his vision for Williams is clear as day to see. Vowles has been forthright about the team's situation but wants to drag Williams' infrastructure up to the standard of its rivals on the grid. He has started applying the processes to do so and thinks the team can take a big step up the competitive order in the next two or three years. Alex Albon has already signed up to that vision until 2027 and the team now appears to be the front-runner to sign Carlos Sainz to a similarly long-term deal. Doing so would be another ringing endorsement of what Vowles is building.

If drivers can see Vowles' vision, Newey might too. Multiple sources have told ESPN that Williams is serious about bringing Newey back to the team, but this looks like a long shot while Ferrari is in play.

Should Newey decide a move to Italy isn't the right thing for him, this might just tug on the heartstrings enough to come to fruition. Reestablishing Williams as a force in F1 would arguably be a bigger achievement than bringing title success back to Ferrari, given the relative sizes of the two teams, and would be hugely popular given what Williams still means to so many fans of the sport.

There would likely be something quite personal for Newey if he made this move, too. His Williams cars won titles in 1992 with Nigel Mansell, in 1993 with Alain Prost and in 1996 with Damon Hill, but the death of Ayrton Senna while driving a Williams at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix is something he has previously admitted remains a dark cloud over his original spell with the team.

McLaren, another team Newey enjoyed championship success with in the past, remains an outside bet, as well. Social media was abuzz with the fact that McLaren CEO Zak Brown and Newey raced together at the Monaco Classic in the middle of May. Brown's name was then thrust into headlines around possible next steps when Newey's manager Eddie Jordan made an apparent slip of the tongue during a podcast for a yacht company, saying: "When we get the next deal from Zak or whoever it might be, a proper new bike will be part of the contract."

Damon Hill tweeted the obvious question afterward: "Is this a clue, a deliberate diversion, or a monumental EJ gaff?"

Newey's McLaren cars won titles in 1998 and 1999; McLaren has only won one championship without Newey in this century. Brown has meticulously rebuilt the team's technical department in recent years after several false starts, recently bringing in chief designer Rob Marshall from Red Bull. His current technical team, spearheaded by the brilliant Andreas Stella as team principal, also includes the highly rated Peter Prodromou and Neil Houldey, so it might be difficult to see where Newey would fit. That team appears to be firing on all cylinders at the moment and McLaren has made great strides toward Red Bull lately, winning the Miami Grand Prix.

What about Aston Martin or Mercedes?

There was a brief moment earlier this year when the idea of Newey moving to Aston Martin seemed like a decent possibility, but that prospect appears to have disappeared in the weeks since his departure from Red Bull was confirmed. Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll wants Newey to join his F1 team but, according to various reports, Newey has turned down at least one offer.

Like with Hamilton at Ferrari, a move to Aston Martin would have given Newey the chance to build a car for Fernando Alonso, but the two-time world champion has been increasingly dismissive of questions about whether they will work together. Alonso has started to joke that he will buy himself the Valkyrie hypercar so he can finally drive a Newey car.

But things can quickly change in Formula One, and one rejected offer rarely means much in the sport. Given the resources at Stroll's disposal and the fact he has gone all-in on building what he hopes will be championship-contending team in the next few years, the Canadian billionaire might feel confident about changing Newey's mind before he puts his signature to a rival team's contract.

As for Mercedes, it appears to be a team in desperate need of someone like Newey to steady the ship and inject some inspiration into its F1 project. The dynastic days of the past seem like a distant memory, and the team has slipped down to fourth in the competitive order this year. Hamilton is heading to Ferrari and is taking performance director Loic Serra and driver development director Jerome d'Ambrosio with him. And yet, the paddock chatter around Mercedes being in play for Newey has been almost nonexistent.

James Allison, who oversaw a lot of the team's dominant title winners, moved back last year into the role of technical director after Mike Elliott left the team. Mercedes appears to be slowly turning its attention to 2026 and is quietly confident it will be competitive again, given the early rumblings about its engine project for the new set of regulations.

In terms of the rest of the grid, there doesn't appear to be anyone with the clout to entice Newey. Renault may well look at him as a potential saviour for Alpine's flailing F1 programme, while Audi is joining in 2026 knowing it faces an uphill battle to be immediately competitive. Neither of these options have picked up much traction in the paddock rumour mill, and both might represent risky moves without much chance of upside for Newey, especially compared with options already outlined.