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Adrian Newey and Gigi Dall'Igna: technology changes, genius doesn't

Both have written fundamental pages of Motosport on four and two wheels. Adrian will say goodbye to Red Bull at the end of the year, many see him at Ferrari, to save it as Dall'Igna did with Ducati

Auto - News: Adrian Newey and Gigi Dall'Igna: technology changes, genius doesn't

When one thinks of a designer in MotoGP, it is only natural that it is Gigi Dall'Igna who enters the scene overwhelmingly. If you do the same when you think of Formula 1, it is equally natural that it is Adrian Newey to fill that role. The reason is very simple and concerns the winning streaks put up by both designers and their respective vehicles that have trodden the tracks after passing through their drawing board.

Newey is the man who changed Formula One forever, he started doing it with Leyton House, and continued doing it with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull. He has always made his mark with bold ideas, often thinking so far outside the box that he left all his rivals stunned every time one of 'his' single-seaters was shown. He has seen men like Mansell, Prost, Hill, Hakkinen, Vettel and Verstappen win with his cars, just to name a few.

Dall'Igna, on the other hand, started with two-strokes, then led Aprilia to triumph in SBK with the legendary RSV4 of Biaggi and then Guintoli, and later became the man destined to make Ducati great again, succeeding in the feat thanks to Pecco Bagnaia in MotoGP and Alvaro Bautista in SBK.

Both of these men have always been able to rely on top-notch collaborators, neither of whom has ever designed every single component of a car or motorcycle. But they have both charted the direction, they have poked holes in the ever-tightening regulations, they have pushed the boundaries whenever anyone has tried to clip the wings of their minds. So we can safely say that they have a lot in common.

2024 will be Newey's last year at Red Bull Racing, the announcement had been in the air for a few days already, and the separation was made official in a joint note, specifying that the gardening leave period , i.e., the break due before being allowed to work in competing teams, will end on January 1, 2025. Perfect timing given that another technical revolution is brewing in the Circus, with new regulations that will undoubtedly change the balance in the field. So having a mind like Newey in the driver's seat will be invaluable, just as it was in 1998 when he brought McLaren back to Olympus by interpreting the new technical framework better than anyone else.

It is a challenge that Gigi Dall'Igna will also face in Ducati, as from 2027 the highly anticipated new regulations will be triggered, the details of which are not yet known, but which will certainly be aimed at scaling down the effectiveness of aerodynamics, limiting it to the maximum. An ever tighter web of rules, which will no doubt require out-of-the-box thinking to make the most of, to find the famous holes that can enable one Manufacturer to assert itself over others.

Newey will have to do the same very soon, and everyone points to Ferrari as the natural landing place for the engineer, who also has offers on his plate from Mercedes and Aston Martin, but who will probably find in Ferrari the right outlet for all his ideas. Perhaps he will also be given a chance to design a new road-going supercar, just as he did with the Valkyrie, branded Aston Martin but completely designed by Newey.

Unlike Dall'Igna when he arrived at Ducati, Newey will not find in Ferrari a team in clear trouble, but rather what can be called the first among humans after the unparalleled Red Bull that bears his signature. The mission is simple, which is to find the formula to bring the Prancing Horse back to the top of the world, with a drivers' title that has been missing since 2007, with the magical Interlagos signed by Kimi Raikkonen. He will find in his team a pair of drivers who are no laughing matter either, with Hamilton and Leclerc, two genuine phenomena. He will, in short, have the road paved from a certain point of view.

Dall'Igna came to Ducati in the post-Valentino Rossi era, when even a top five represented a success for the Italian manufacturer. In Jerez, five Ducatis finished ahead of everyone else, so we can say that the feat was accomplished abundantly and went even further, to the point of making Ducati the bugbear of everyone in both MotoGP and SBK.

Newey and Dall'Igna represent the best of the best in their respective fields, precisely because of their ability to find alternative ways. A cry for creative freedom against a system that tends to castrate the imagination of engineers more and more. Recall the words of Mauro Forghieri, another legend who took Ferrari to the top of the world for so many years and in different categories of motorsport. "Do you want to find out who is the best engineer? Let's make a regulation in which only a maximum amount of energy that can be spent in a Grand Prix is assigned, for example the tank capacity limit, and the tire sizes. Then maximum freedom and we'll see who is the best." A real utopia, let's be clear. But imagine what kind of car Newey could give birth to with such regulations? And what kind of bike would Dall'Igna give birth to if his hands were not tied?

We will never know, that much is obvious. But we all know that both would be the best in their respective fields. Perhaps by 2025 they will both be wearing red, on one side the one from Maranello and on the other the one from Borgo Panigale. Maybe it is a dream today, but let's imagine a time when there is always a red car and a red motorcycle winning in motorsport. Soon we will find out Newey's true destination, but hell... how we wish it really was Ferrari.


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