Rory Byrne vs Adrian Newey

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    Today, it is widley accepted that Newey is the best designer on the grid and a genius to boot, considering the way the last two seasons have panned out, it can be quite hard to argue. But you’d have to go back to the late 90’s to find a time when this paradigm was last so universally acepted. Certainly at the end of the 2004 season Newey wasn’t even close to the most successful on the grid. Rory Byrne’s cars had just won 6 constructors and 5 drivers championships in a row, could have clean sweeped all 12 were it not for Schumachers leg. Add that to the 2 drivers and the constructors Byrne won with Schumacher at Benetton and you’ve clear statisticall superior in wins and championships.

    An yet Byrne is always the last mentioned of Ferrari’s golden quartet, and always behind Brawn, who must of course been of great assistance on the enginering side of things.

    Statistics of course are falible, there are many factors to consider, Newey has had three teams, frequently unstable and often bosses with large ego’s. Newey has sometimes seemed limited by technology, in an almost Chapmanesque mananer his cars are frequently too fast for their own good. Byrne’s cars where famously rock solid on the other hand, an the statistics will show, blindingly quick, does this make him the better designer? Or was that Brawns engineering genius? (Imagine a Brawn Newey pairing) Byrne’s championships and most of his wins where all delivered by one man in a highly stable environment, Newey has designed for a multitude of drivers and skill sets in a fairly stressed set of teams, all though really the drivers job is to adapt to the design, if a characteristic makes the car quicker.

    So the stats show Byrne ahead, and in terms of innovation you’d have to credit Newey, speed wise there has been little and lots between them at various points, but their masterpeices have been fairly dominant. Byrne seems the most reliable but he always had Brawn, however to say Newey hasn’t had some fairly serious backing would be disingenuous though.

    Thoughts? What dya think?


    I think i’ve had a similar discussion to this before. The way that it went was that Newey is the man you want when there are dramatic rule changes and Byrne is who you want when the rules remain stable and can be fine tuned.

    In these discussion the guy who designed the 05/06 renault is often overlooked too (although ironically I can’t remember his name – bob bell maybe?) as he was clearly talented!


    I think Newey has found the direction to follow. At McLaren he lost against Ferrari, but I think Byrne also found the good direction. Every car is a development from the previous one, and when the rules change drastically you never know which is best, but if your car is, then you just have to copy and improve.


    @Sw6569 – Yes it is Bob Bell.


    NO… NO


    Bob Bell did well at Renault but his car always seemed to be an alround production to me. Especially what made it really quick in 06 being the sprung mass dampers.

    Come on this discussion has legs, ;)

    first thread I started in ages.


    I quite like Newey, maybe because I like the way that he really starts out with looking at the regulations without prejudice, and then creates clever solutions around the rules.

    This can be said about Brawn too, and that is why I think Newey has the upper hand here.


    Scribe I really love this thread. I remember quite a while ago in the comments you compared the two and I’m really glad you’ve made it into a thread.

    Anyhoo, I’d say Rory. He had Ross granted but part of being the best is getting the best people around you plus his cars were also rock solid. Newey’s cars haven’t won as many titles as they should have and although every part of the car will be examinded and made as efficient as possible they break far too often.

    It’s a really tough one and for me Rory gets it but only just.

    Dan Thorn

    I’d also go for Byrne. To be able to design such dominant cars, year after year and with such fantastic reliability was outstanding. The stability of Brawn and Schumacher contributed a lot as well, but you have to do the best with what you’re given, which he did.

    Newey may be able to come up with dominiant designs also, but its often at the heavy cost of reliabilty. It’s often been said that he doesnt leave a lot of room for the driver either, and driver discomfort isnt going to help performance either.

    I’d agree with sw’s statement.


    Byrne here as well. At the end of the day his record stands for itself. Head-to-head, Byrne has beaten Newey more often than not. Newey has been successful over a longer period with more teams but that’s an accident of history; Newey probably would have retired around the same time as Byrne had Red Bull not tempted him away. Byrne meanwhile stayed loyal (take that how you wish) and it paid dividends.

    I do feel Byrne is forgotten far, far too much too.


    I reckon part of the reason for Byrne’s success is in someways part of the reason for his underappreciation. It’s funny that his last car was also Schumi’s last Ferrari, an in 2007 Brawn and Todt left their long held positions. It can’t be underestimaited quite how good the people around him where, at Benneton his cars where could enough to give Schumacher the base to do the rest, at Ferrari, the cars where communal masterpeices which where refined by group effort.

    Newey on the other hand developed quite sensational cars at Williams, an then at McLaren, before Ron Dennis started going slightly going up the tree, McLaren wasn’t the nicest place at the time let none of us forget. He then mooved to Redbull, settled in with that victory at Monza, amogst very stable regulations, apparently the cars design that year ment they worked better with the intermediates. THen in his own stable environment, put out the class of the feild twice, despite being guzumped for the title by half a billion dollars in 09. 500million really is the kitchen sink.

    Still, I’d probably go for Byrne, but include Brawn in the reckoning. In car design the statistics really do show for a lot more than when comapring drivers, as it’s usually apparent whats best to be driving.


    When Red Bull contracted Newey, Horner said that Newey was bigger than Schumacher. That’s probably the only sensible quote I read from Horner.

    By now Newey’s cars have won 7 WDC’s and Newey looks like he may yet add a few more.

    Seeing how Schumacher “won” all of his WDC’s in Byrne designed cars, I guess Byrne and Newey are equal in that respect now.

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