Despite leaving school at 16, Adrian Newey graduated from Southampton University with a first in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1980 and his thesis on ground-effect aerodynamics secured him a job with Fittipaldi Automotive. He joined March the following year, where he was involved in a number of projects including GTP, Indycar and Formula 2 as a designer and race engineer. A brief spell at FORCE was followed by a return to March as chief designer, and when the team was taken over by Leyton House he became technical director, although inconsistent results saw him fired in the summer of 1990.
In what was arguably the defining moment of his career, Newey joined Patrick Head at Williams and by 1992 had sealed the constructors' title. Between 1991 and 1997 Newey's cars won 58 grand prix, four drivers' titles and five constructors' championships. Newey's role in Williams' dominance of the 1990s cannot be underrated. The importance of a well-designed car was highlighted in 1992 when Ayrton Senna was helpless to stop Nigel Mansell winning the title in a Newey-designed Williams car.
However, in 1994 tragedy struck with the death of Ayrton Senna at Imola. Along with Frank Williams and Patrick Head, Newey stood trial for manslaughter and after a lengthy procedure he was finally acquitted of all charges in May 2005. With no prospect of promotion to technical director with Head a shareholder at Williams, Newey was forced to look elsewhere and in 1996 he joined rivals McLaren, winning two drivers titles with Mika Hakkinen. In 2001 he signed a contract with Jaguar but was convinced to stay by Ron Dennis.
After endless speculation that Newey was headed for the exit at McLaren, he joined Red Bull for the 2006 season. Though his first three years were a bit of a disappointment, 2009 proved a real breakthrough with five victories and 14 podiums, including a back-to-back one-two finishes for Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel at the British and German Grands Prix.
In 2010 Red Bull went one step further and swept to both drivers' and constructors' championship with by far the fastest car. So quick was the RB6 that it took 15 pole positions and its rivals complained on several occasions that it was illegal - although no proof was found to back their theories. 2011 didn't see the Red Bull dominance relent either as the RB7 saw reliability added to awesome speed. While Vettel said that the car wasn't as dominant as its predecessor, a record of 36 finishes from 38 starts meant that it didn't need to be. Vettel guided it to his second drivers' championship as the car delivered 12 wins and 18 poles from the 19 races.
With Newey's original 2009 design forming the basis for each folllowing car, the Red Bull dominance continued until the end of that set of regulations in 2013. During that time, Red Bull pioneered and mastered the art of manipulating exhaust gasses to increase downforce, among other innovations, and keep Vettel at the top for four consecutive seasons.
In 2014 F1 moved to a more engine-based formula, with Mercedes' V6 turbo blowing its rivals out of the water. With a temperamental and under-powered Renault under the Red Bull's engine cover, it was testimony to Newey's genius that the team still managed to finish second in the constructors' title. But, slightly disillusioned by F1's future direction, Newey had already decided to take a step back from the team at end of 2014 and he started to share his focus with other projects, including working with Sir Ben Ainslie's sailing team.
An avid sports car collector, Newey has participated in the historic Le Mans event several times and in 2006 destroyed his Ford GT40, escaping with just a cut finger. In 2010 he was gifted a Red Bull RB5 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed by his team.