Red Bull is dominating Formula 1. But internally, the team is navigating turmoil.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Eras of dominance are a common occurrence in Formula 1. But it’s very uncommon to see a driver and team win so much on track while simultaneously navigating so much turmoil off track.

Yet that’s the story of Red Bull Racing this season.

Max Verstappen won the “sprint” race Saturday as he pursues five out of six victories this season at Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix. But the defending champion’s on-track brilliance is being overshadowed — again — by the team’s off-track drama and controversies.

The talk of the paddock all weekend has been Red Bull’s legendary chief technical officer Adrian Newey’s shocking announcement on Wednesday that he’ll leave the team early next year after building all seven of its title-winning cars. That news unfolded against a backdrop of a power struggle among the team’s top brass and after the company investigated and dismissed allegations of bad behavior against team principal Christian Horner.

Christian Horner.
Christian Horner in Miami on FridayMark Thompson / Getty Images

“In all my years of Formula 1, there have always been teams that have been dominant for a certain period. It doesn’t last forever. When I came in, it was McLaren and then soon thereafter it was Michael Schumacher with Ferrari. And then after that, it was Red Bull. And then Mercedes. And now Red Bull again. So that happens,” Otmar Szafnauer, the former team principal of Alpine until last year, told NBC News. “I’ve never seen controversy like we’ve seen now during a period of domination. So I think that that’s unique.”

After the sprint, Verstappen said he wants stability off track.

“I’m here to just race and try to win. And of course, it’s important to feel good and have a stable environment. We’re working on that. And I’m sure that we can get that,” Verstappen told NBC News at a press conference. “I’ve been literally answering these questions from March? Feb? End of Feb? I don’t even know what to say anymore about it. We just try to focus as a team on the performance of the car. And so far it hasn’t impacted that, and I’m very happy for that.”

Newey’s exit dominated conversations at the press conferences with drivers and team bosses. Is this the beginning of the end of Red Bull’s reign? Will it push Verstappen to leave? Who will hire Newey, and will it catapult them to the top? Will the 65-year-old Newey even stay in Formula 1 or sail off into retirement?

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton said with a sly grin he would “very much” like Ferrari to hire Newey as the British driver leaves Mercedes next year to join the Italian team.

“If I was to do a list of people that I’d love to work with, he would absolutely be at the top of it,” Hamilton told reporters Thursday, two days before Newey was spotted on the starting grid eyeing up Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, while swarmed by photographers.

Zak Brown, the American CEO of McLaren, said Friday it was just the start of Red Bull’s problems.

“Six months ago, I would have been surprised. I think given everything that’s gone on since the start of the year — and knowing Adrian pretty well, and he’s a very high-integrity individual, I’m not surprised he’s moving on. The stuff that’s going on there is a bit destabilizing,” Brown said. “It’s probably the first domino to fall. My guess is not the last based on the resumes that are flying around.”

Brown added that “we’ve seen an increase in CVs coming our way from” Red Bull staffers who want to leave the team.

‘An opportune moment’

For all the drama that has surrounded Red Bull since the death of Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz in 2022, the team had kept its core leadership intact: Horner, influential adviser Helmut Marko and Newey.

But that stability has now been disrupted.

“To win in Formula 1, you need to put all the pieces together,” Szafnauer said — the right driver, team, engine and car design. “I wouldn’t like to lose one of the elements.”

In a statement, Newey called it “an opportune moment to hand that baton over to others and to seek new challenges for myself.”

What Newey has done is unprecedented: build title-winning cars for three different teams — Williams, McLaren and Red Bull — over three decades of evolving regulations. Red Bull said he’ll exit in “the first quarter of 2025” after 19 years with the team — and earlier than his contract was slated to expire.

“I would have preferred Adrian to stay,” Verstappen said. “Of course, I’m sad that he is leaving.”

Adrian Newey, Max Verstappen and Christian Horner.
Adrian Newey, who announced on Wednesday his departure from Red Bull, with Max Verstappen and Christian Horner Clive Mason / Getty Images file

But he said Red Bull isn’t a one-man team and that the role of Newey, for all his “incredible” talents, has evolved over time. “I also really trust in the technical team we have at the moment.”

Would he also consider leaving Red Bull for other opportunities?

“Not for the moment,” Verstappen said.

Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, whose contract expires after this year, said he didn’t expect more departures from the team.

“I don’t think so. I think everyone is fully committed to the team. We’re having a tremendous season once again. The future looks bright in the team,” he said. “It’s normal that you have this sort of movement within some people but I think the organization remains really strong. And I don’t see any more changes in that regard.”

Red Bull’s internal drama provided a stark contract to the weekend’s kickoff Friday at “sprint” qualifying, when Verstappen put his car on pole position yet again — to the Dutch driver’s own surprise.

“LOL. What happened to the others?” he quipped on team radio when told about his triumph, adding that his lap was “terrible.”