Adrian Navy interview: ‘I left the hospital when surgeons said I could have brain damage’


The biggest strength of the car that won the Red Bull Championship is the brain of Adrian Navy.

Newey has been the mastermind behind some of the greatest Formula One cars in history, from the dominant era of Williams and McLaren to the current machinery of Max Verstappen.

So, when a Croatian neurosurgeon stood at the foot of a Navy bed when he fractured his skull in a cycling accident and said he had a 10% chance of brain damage, it made him think. ۔

About a year later, the 63-year-old’s gray matter is as sharp as ever. On the idea that a fatal accident might have forced him to think about taking a step back, he says: “No, I’m pretty much a pig that hasn’t changed much.”

He dismisses the accident as a stupid thing, which was unfortunate but could have been infinitely worse. Walking on a bicycle path with his wife Amanda at night, he went to either side of a group of children, but an invisible navy fell six feet down the rocky shore and beheaded him.

By morning, it was clear that something more serious was wrong. He went to the hospital and an MRI scan showed a broken skull and a bone marrow over the upper muscles of the eye.

“Three wise men appeared under my bed – a neurosurgeon, a maxillofacial boy and an anesthetist,” he recalls. “With the eye, he said they would need to work quickly or the bone would break the eye muscles and I would lose the movement of the eye.”

“Well, what’s the risk of eye damage? ‘Oh, no danger.’ Any risk of brain damage? ‘Oh, not much.’ Give me one percent. Five, maybe 10 percent. At that moment, I told my wife to get me out of there.

Former F1 color master Bernie Ecclestone, with whom he was vacationing a few days ago, found him a neurosurgeon in London, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner took him home with another friend to the UK. I operated.

This resulted in a month-long break from work, but he returned to Pittwall for the Turkish Grand Prix and competed in the last seven races of the season, which resulted in Verstappen’s first title.

Newey has worked with many great people in the history of F1, including Mika Hakkinen

/ AFP via Getty Images

Eleven drivers have won titles in the Championship of Cars and 10 Constructors designed by him. He has worked with some of the greatest drivers in history: Erton Cena, Elaine Proust, Micah Hawkins and Sebastian Vettel.

Regarding his latest title, he says: “It’s unfair to compare drivers of slightly different periods, but Max is right there. I think this image of an aggressive driver is more egg-laying. Maybe his debut in F1 He was very aggressive in the races, but last season that was unwarranted.

“She is generally very calm, very measured, she has great anxiety and is happy to work with her.”

The Navy, however, rejects the suggestion that there is anything in particular that praises the champion. He is at odds with Vettel, who has worked with all the drivers who have spent the longest time analyzing debriefs and data, as opposed to Hawkins.

“Mika didn’t say much and sometimes you have to translate it, but if you translated those 10 words correctly, they were very insightful,” he said. “Great drivers – and I would put Max in that category – know what they want from the car and know how to communicate with their race engineer what they want and how to get it.”

The Navy says there is a danger that Verstappen could run away from the championship in its current form, “which would be beautiful from our point of view.”

When I joined the Red Bull, people thought I was committing suicide.

But doesn’t a man whom Frank Williams has described as the most competitive he has ever met prefer the title races that go down the line, like last season? “From a health standpoint, I prefer easy, but more memorable are tough, especially if you’re lucky enough to get the result in the end,” he says.

Of all his periods in F1, the Red Bull has been the most satisfying. His first job on the grid was with Layton House, before they broke up. And while the McLaren and Williams eras were special, they had already formed teams. In contrast, the Red Bull was started in practice.

“When I joined the Red Bull, people thought I was committing suicide,” he says. “It was most satisfying because, with Christian, we took it from the ashes of Jaguar how we wanted it.”

For the first time, in 2010, it was at the top of the game – a position they also look at at the end of 2022.