But pragmatic is exactly what the Project One is, at least according to Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers. Ostensibly his job is building big-engined, high-powered derivatives of regular Mercedes road cars. But in this 50th anniversary year AMG has become much more than that, Moers looking to celebrate this but also guarantee the performance division’s future. A hypercar seemed a logical step and, in conversation, Moers says it would have been easy to build one with a regular V8 or V12 and 900 “or whatever horsepower” and be done with it.
He’s looking ahead though, accepting the big internal combustion engines that have become an AMG signature have a limited lifespan. Electrification is inevitable. So, he had an idea. “I was thinking about the future of performance, something I am always talking about,” he says. Hence a call into Andy Cowell, Mercedes-AMG’s Brixworth-based head of F1 engine development. “I asked him do you think we can put your powertrain in a street legal car,” beams Moers. “He said give me two months!”
Sounds easy, right? When you begin to appreciate the complexities of a modern F1 power unit with its 1.6-litre V6, electrically powered turbocharger/generator, hybrid assistance and associated control systems you realise it’s anything but. Not that Cowell seems fazed. Chatting with him beside the Project One he reveals himself one cool customer. First question – is it really the F1 engine? “Yes!” he confirms. “Same block, same heads, everything. We’ve dropped the revs a little to 11,000 where we let the race engines go to 12,500rpm and some of the packaging is different because we have more space but it’s fundamentally the same.”
Surely a race engine needs a rebuild every few hundred miles though? “Lewis was on full throttle for 67 per cent of the race at Monza,” says Cowell, “and, yes, with that kind of use the service intervals are short. But with the amount of throttle you’ll be able to use in road driving we’ve projected about 50,000km before it will need servicing beyond oil changes and regular maintenance.”