Adrian Newey from his first job in racing

Formula 1's best design engineer, Adrian Newey describes how he was fired from his first job in racing

My first race as an engineer at Silverstone was in 1982, a year and a half after I’d left university. I’d moved on from my first job at Fittipaldis to March, where basically I wore two hats, one as a junior draftsman in the drawing office during the week and the other as a race engineer on the March Engineering Formula 2 team. We hadn’t actually done any pre-season testing – well we had, but I hadn’t been there – so the first time I ever put on a set of headphones was for that Silverstone race. I was engineering Christian Danner. It was a very wet weekend and I had never been on that side of the pit lane before, let alone worn a set of headphones, so I was completely out of my depth. I didn’t really know what I was doing. In the race, Christian ran out of fuel. Initially, I think he thought I hadn’t put enough fuel in the car when in fact the problem was actually a fuel leak, I’m glad to say. Anyway, in the immediate aftermath, the outcome was that I was fired and Christian asked if he could have a different engineer. So that was my first experience at Silverstone!

As a driver the experience was a little more positive. My first race as a hobby driver was in my Ford GT40 in a one-hour race. You could either do it as two-driver or one-driver and I did it as a one-driver event, with a compulsory pit stop in the middle. It was the first year of Silverstone Classic and it was the main GT race for pre-‘65 cars – and I won it! So, as a driver, my debut was a bit more successful than as an engineer.

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