Red Bull F1 designer Adrian Newey set to make history
One of the greatest accomplishments in motor racing history will most likely be achieved on Sunday and the statisticians of the autosport world appear to have missed it. Currently, three men have designed cars that have won seven world F1 constructors titles. Last year Red Bull's Adrian Newey joined Colin Chapman and Rory Byrne with his seventh title (Williams FW14B of 1992, Williams FW15C of 1993, Williams FW16 of 1994, Williams FW18 of of 1996, Williams FW19 of 1997 and McLaren MP4/13).
On Sunday, Red Bull needs to score just one point more than McLaren for Newey to take his eighth title with the 2011 Red Bull RB7. Two of the top four designers in F1 history are British, and two hail from South Africa.
The other two men to have designed seven world F1 constructors title winners are South African Rory Byrne and British designer Colin Chapman.
Chapman was the founder of Lotus Cars, a Formula One legacy so popular that it has been in dispute of recent times. Under Chapman, Team Lotus won seven Formula One Constructors' titles (1963 Lotus Climax, 1965 Lotus Climax, 1968 Lotus Ford, 1970 Lotus Ford, 1972 Lotus Ford, 1973 Lotus Ford and 1978 Lotus Ford. His cars also won six Drivers' Championships in the hands of Jim Clark (2), Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi (2). Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982.
Rory Byrne was the designer of the Benetton B195 which won the constructors title in 1995 at which point he went into retirement, having achieved his primary goal. Michael Schumacher lured Byrne out of retirement two years later and Byrne penned the cars behind the Ferrari dynasty which took constructors titles in 1999 (F399), 2000 (F1-2000), 2001 (F2001), 2002, (F2002), 2003 (F2003) and 2004 (F2004). Michael Schumacher drove Byrne's cars to seven drivers titles.
Fourth on the all-time designers list is Professor Gordon Murray whose cars won 22 Grands Prix for Brabham between 1973 and 1985, then four consecutive Constructors' and Drivers' Championships for McLaren.
Newey-designed cars have also now won eight Formula One World Drivers' Championships: 1992 (Mansell), 1993 (Prost), 1996 (Hill), 1997 (Villeneuve), 1998 & 1999 (Hakkinen), 2010 & 2011 (Vettel).
By my reckoning, that makes Newey the clear F1 designer of all time, and he's unlikely to be challenged any time soon as Gordon Murray is now designing road cars and Rory Byrne is in retirement.