F1 News: Red Bull Is A Toxic Environment Right Now Says McLaren CEO

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has described the environment at Red Bull Racing as "pretty toxic."
Sep 8, 2023; Salinas, California, USA; McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown speaks  to announce  driver David Malukas (18) move to Arrow McLaren Racing for the 2024 season before free practice at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2023; Salinas, California, USA; McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown speaks to announce driver David Malukas (18) move to Arrow McLaren Racing for the 2024 season before free practice at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, has recently reported of a concerningly negative atmosphere at Red Bull Racing, going so far as to label it as "pretty toxic." This situation comes amid news that Adrian Newey, Red Bull's acclaimed technical guru, is planning a departure from the team in early 2025.

According to Brown, the exit of Adrian Newey marks a significant blow to Red Bull, considering his influential role and longstanding tenure at the team.

“Newey's departure is an important one, because I think a lot of people at Red Bull started working with him. I already mentioned that there were resumes circulating. That happens all the time, but you see a higher level of discomfort," Brown explained. He further suggested that Newey's decision stemmed from an unfavorable internal environment, exacerbated by earlier controversies involving team principal Christian Horner.

The shift seems to be part of a larger trend, as Red Bull reportedly faces a troubling uptick in staff turnover, with increased interest from Red Bull personnel in positions elsewhere - unsurprising considering their dominant performance over the past couple of years. Fellow F1 leadership figures, including Mercedes' Toto Wolff, have also noted a surge in applications from Red Bull employees. This scenario might impact Red Bull’s operational strength moving forward.

The challenges at Red moment extend beyond internal operations to potentially affect sponsor relationships.

“I also think that in the future it will be more difficult with sponsors, because they are going to examine carefully what they are associated with. That's a tricky situation,” Brown stated.

Adding to the complexity is the uncertain future of Max Verstappen, Red Bull's leading driver, whose continued association with the team is currently debated. “You have the whole Verstappen drama. Is he staying or is he leaving? Max has a contract, only his father is pretty outspoken,” Brown added.

Despite these challenges, Brown acknowledged the inherent strength of Red Bull as a competitive entity in Formula 1.

“Red Bull is a great racing team, but destabilized. You can see that with Newey leaving. However, you can never erase them. As I said, they are an incredible team, just by my reasoning, they are not as strong as they used to be. If I look at who has the best path of visibility and momentum right now, it's Ferrari and McLaren. Things can change quickly though, so we have to keep both feet on the ground,” he concluded.


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Alex Harrington

ALEX HARRINGTON

Alex is the editor-in-chief of F1 editorial. He fell in love with F1 at the young age of 7 after hearing the scream of naturally aspirated V10s echo through his grandparents' lounge. That year he watched as Michael Schumacher took home his fifth championship win with Ferrari, and has been unable to look away since.