Giving Adrian Newey a clean sheet of paper and a functionally unlimited budget is sort of like giving the same to J. Robert Oppenheimer. Unsurprisingly, the results will be pretty similar: A considerable crater on the desert floor, and the sand turned into glass.
For those of you that don’t know, Newey is the head tech guy at Red Bull Racing, the F1 team funded by that anti-freeze/caffeine drink that makes you shake for the next 34 hours. Before that he was at Jaguar’s F1 team. Before that, McLaren. Before that, Williams. Before that, he designed a Leyton House March F1 car that nearly won.
Now, I’m not going to say that Newey has made a pact with devil or anything, but he is a master of the dark art of aerodynamic engineering. Gifted doesn’t begin to describe the guy’s ability. Kelly Johnson, a fellow who knew a thing or two about aerodynamic engineering, is famous for saying, “aerodynamics is easy, once you can think like air.”
Near as I can tell, Newey is air.
Look at any of the competition crushing cars he made for Red Bull or McLaren or Williams. Want an even more up to date specimen? Have a look at the AM-RB 001, the hypercar he’s designed for Aston Martin. I swear, I’ve seen more irregular-shaped dolphins. From certain angles, there seems to be more space than car. The underbody and wheel treatments alone are staggering in both beauty and aerodynamic intent.
The company says “the heart of every Aston Martin is its engine,” which Newey probably has more than a few quibbles with, but hey, the badge does say “Aston Martin” and not “Adrian Newey,” so the Gaydon, England company gets to call the shots.
In the case of the AM-RB 001, Aston pulled out all the stops and went with Cosworth to design and manufacture the AM-RB 001’s bespoke, high-revving 6.5-liter naturally aspirated V12 engine. No power specs have been given, but I’d be very surprised if the 6.5-liter Cossy put out less than 700 horsepower.
The mill is bolted to a 7-speed paddle-shift transmission, designed and manufactured by Ricardo, to Red Bull Advanced Technologies’ specification. In other words, the transmission is not going to be that much different than what Ricardo builds for Red Bull’s F1 cars.
Oh, and did I mention this thing is a hybrid? Well, it is. The AM-RB 001 lightweight hybrid battery system is supplied by Rimac. Lightweight is also the watchword for the carbon fiber chassis. The AM-RB 001’s MonoCell (that’s Aston Martin’s term for the monocoque chassis) is constructed from carbon fiber by Multimatic, long term racing supplier. Multimatic also worked with Aston Martin on projects such as the One-77 and Vulcan. All this profligate lightness is focused on the goal of a power-to-weight ratio of 1:1 – in other words, one bhp for every kilogram of weight.
You wanna stop? Say hello to Alcon and Surface Transforms, who will supply the lightweight, high performance brake calipers and carbon discs required to whoa this brute up. Bosch gets the nod to handle the control units. Engine Control Unit (ECU), Traction Control Unit (TCU), and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) are all specific to the AM-RB 001.
“Much like Formula One, designing, engineering, and building a car like the AM-RB 001 is a massive team effort. To achieve great things you need to surround yourself with the best people. Experience, creativity, energy, diligence, and perfectionism are absolute must-have qualities in every area of the project. Having great technical partners such as those working with us is both reassuring and motivating. Together we aim to produce an innovative piece of engineering art,” Newey said.
This was just before he disappeared in a puff of purplish smoke, like a fluttering of a raven’s wings.
When? Soon. How much? A lot. How many? Not many. Only 150 AM-RB 001s are planned, including all remaining prototypes, with 25 additional track-only versions. The first deliveries are expected in 2019.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.