The headlines have been written, the internet forums are buzzing…and the world’s newest – and allegedly fastest – hypercar is out in the open after being unveiled with a bang, and plenty of tyre smoke from a donutting Daniel Ricciardo, in front of 1500 cheering workers at Aston Martin’s base in Gaydon. Yes, AM-RB 001 – the first road car from the pen of F1 design genius Adrian Newey – has arrived…
JUL 07th 2016
Adrian Newey – AM‑RB 001 is the World's First Ground Effect Road Car!
So what more have we learnt about the hypercar joint project between Red Bull and Aston Martin since the covers came off inside Aston’s assembly plant on Tuesday? Well, one thing is that each car, in road or track form, will cost between £2-£3m – not bad for a machine that was conceived over sausage and mash (in a pub in Woburn in January 2015). Aston boss Andy Palmer says he already has 370 serious prospects for the maximum 175 (150 for road, and 25 for track) cars that are to be built.
We also know now that while power and cubic capacity of the naturally-aspirated V12 are not yet confirmed, the car’s weight target of 1,000kg is. Which means you don’t have to be a genius to know how many horses there will be given that the avowed power-weight ratio is 1:1. That’ll be 1,000bhp then, give or take, and yes, there will be a KERS style hybrid element to the powertrain.
First development prototypes should be on the road testing next year (Dani Ricciardo says he wants to do some of the driving), and the first owners should get their cars early in 2018. The car will be badged Aston Martin and have a name starting with V… let us have your suggestions and we will forward them. For more on the car, and a picture gallery, see our coverage here.
There is of course loads more yet to know about this car, the first street-legal machine from the world’s most successful F1 designer, the first road car to have full ground-effect chassis, and not forgetting that it’s the first-ever production mid-engined Aston. There’s also the small matter of it supposedly being on the pace with an LMP1 car like the Porsche 919 that won Le Mans this year.
Only one person to speak to then… Mr AM-RB 001, Adrian Newey…
Newey on… performance
The car has been billed as F1 fast but the official line now is that the track versions, on slicks, will match the pace of an LMP1 car on a circuit. It is however unlikely to match the Bugatti Chiron’s 260mph plus top speed. Says Newey: “Top speed is not the difficult bit. It is not top speed we have chased. It is driving enjoyment. Having the quickest car possible is a different challenge. This car is also for the urban environment.”
Adrian Newey says the car has been “engineered to be entirely useable and enjoyable as a road car”. He says it will have infotainment and air-conditioning and “be a proper road car …to potter to the shops and back if you want. You don’t have to psyche yourself up to drive it. If we had provided an LMP1 car for the road with all of its discomfort we would have failed.”
“Cars have become big and clumsy,” says Red Bull’s chief technical officer. “We haven’t gone in the direction of one or two of its rivals. The P1 and LaFerrari are one a half times its weight. Light and small cars are more involving to drive. Making a car big is because you haven’t made the effort to make it small. Sat-nav doesn’t tell you when you have a narrow bit of road coming up…”
So how big is it? According to Aston design chief Marek Reichman, it’s a little longer than a V8 Vantage, slightly narrower, and a lot lower. At 39-and-a-half inches it’s actually lower than the Ford GT40 that sits in Adrian Newey’s garage (alongside a McLaren F1).
Newey on…cabin room
“It’s a bit of a Tardis inside,” he says. There are two seats side by side, and your legs go up in the manner of an F1 or LMP1 car: your ankles are higher than your hips. “Marek Reichman is 6ft 4in and he’s comfortable in it. I have to be honest though and say that luggage space isn’t huge. Just one overnight bag.”
Newey on… ground effect
Adrian says it is correct to call this the first ground effects road car. He should know. Apart from 30 years of F1 experience, when he was at uni in 1980 his final year project was on a ground-effect road car. He admits though the new car doesn’t look much like it…
But aren’t ground-effects just for the track? When do they start to work on the road? “There is no particular speed they will start to work but they will become significant around 60mph.”
Newey on… racing it
With no race category for the car the obvious place to “set a time” is the Nürburgring, but he is not keen: “Personally I am not particularly interested in the Nürburgring because no proper cars (ie, racing cars) have been around it.
“There is no race category for it at the moment but things can change.” He says he fancies a modern day equivalent of the BMW M1 Procar series from 1979.
Newey on… his next project
Design a city car in the tyre tracks of F1 ace turned supercar creator Gordon Murray, we suggest? “I enjoy design and engineering and would like to look at other areas in the future. But at the moment I have my work cut out with this. Wait and see what comes along. This in many ways is the easier car for me to do because it’s relatively closer to race car technology.”
So, the ultimate hypercar and a whole level up on amazing machines like the the McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder? That we will have to wait to see, but Adrian Newey’s boss Christian Horner is in no doubt. At the unveiling he called the car “eye-watering” (he meant it in a good way). And he added: “I am sure Ron Dennis is spitting his coffee out right now.”
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