ASTON Martin will build its first ‘hypercar’ due to arrive in showrooms in 2018.
Announced at ahead of this weekend’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, ‘Project AM-RB 001’ will be built, designed and engineered in collaboration with the Red Bull Racing Formula One team and legendary engineer, Adrian Newey.
It also means that Aston’s wings will adorn the race cars of Aussie Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Daniil Kvyat at this weekend’s season opener. It’s the first time Aston Martin has been involved in F1 since 1960.
“The rub off of Red Bull will be very good for our brand,” said Aston chief executive Andy Palmer (pictured below, right, with Red Bull Racing boss Cristian Horner). “It solves a big question for us … it gives us the solution of what the top of our range looks like. We needed an iconic supercar or hypercar.
“We needed something very special which encapsulated the values of Aston, which are power, beauty and soul, but also with absolutely no excuses, particularly on the power side.”
Only 100 cars will be built in what will be the first mid-engined Aston Martin. A sketch released last night shows little of what Aston’s halo model will look like. The price is yet to be determined, although it’s rumoured to be as much as $3.8 million, and we don’t know what will be under the bonnet, most likely a KERS-powered V12.
“What we conceived is a car that is as fast, if not faster than an F1 car around a track,” Palmer said. “When you image that, you start to think about who you’d like to design this wonderful piece of history, and you go to the best – and the best is Adrian [Newey].”
Red Bull Racing’s legendary aerodynamicist, Adrian Newey, is part of what both Palmer and Red Bull racing Boss Cristian Horner call a ‘natural fit’.
The tie-up with Aston also offers Red Bull, and Newey, opportunities to expand their knowledge base. “We’re responsible for the package of the car; the overall layout; the dynamics of the car,” said Newey. “And then really it’s working with Marek [Reichman, Aston designer] and his team on the upper surface styling, the interior obviously, and then all the bits and pieces we don’t really have experience of – door shuts and windscreen wipers and all those sorts of things.”
For Newey (right), it’s the culmination of a childhood dream. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for very many years – [aged] six [it] was more the racing, but certainly from the teenage years being involved in designing a sports car, road car… I’ve been doodling various sketches over the years, and this is the confirmation of it.”
It’s ‘very different’ to the challenges Newey faced – and repeatedly exceeded – in the heat of Formula One competition. “Road car regulations are a hell of a lot more open than Formula One regulations, so there’s far more opportunity to do different things than there is in Formula One now,” he admits.
“Yes, Formula One’s still great, but I promised myself that I would not spend my whole career solely in motor racing,” Newey said when asked if he is still motivated by motor racing. The Brit also insisted that he is not quitting F1, and that the hypercar is a ‘dual role’ that allows him in both road and race realms.
Red Bull Racing boss Cristian Horner (below), who was joined by Red Bull supremo Helmut Marko as well as his star drivers at the event, joked that the team had had ‘worse company cars’ than its new Astons. “It’s two iconic brands,” he said. “Red Bull and Aston Martin are two of the most iconic brands in the world, and I think that Red Bull Racing as a Formula One Team in its own right has achieved some remarkable things over the last 10 years … this is the natural evolution for Red Bull as a technology company.
It’s s serious shot in the arm for Aston, which has seen an increase in backing from its investors as Palmer, who joined as chief executive in 2014, cemented a five-pillar strategy which he calls ‘Second Century’ for the 103-year-old company.
That includes a crossover, as well as Daimler increasing its stake, suring up its V8 engine supply and technical hardware for Aston. The British company also announced a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 to power its new generation of sports cars, spearheaded by the DB11 revealed earlier this month at the Geneva motor show.
“Who knows where this is going to lead to,” said Horner. “It’s going to start with this project and we will see how the relationship develops from there. “