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?