When Aston Martin and Red Bull first announced collaboration on an
ultra high-performance car
earlier this year it's fair to say that the details didn't go much beyond "cutting edge F1 technology with Aston Martin's signature sports car design." Many smelled vapour, or at least suspected any finished car would be several years away.
Now, much sooner than anticipated, the car has been unveiled - or at least something that's close to the finished version. And, although we still can't bring you numbers, for the simple fact that very few have been released, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the production AM-RB 001 is going to be the fastest car in the world. Adrian Newey, Red Bull's Chief Technology Officer and the man who started the whole project, confirms the track-only variant will be as fast as an LMP1 racer. And that its road-going sister will be only slightly slower. "There will be differences, but they will be closely related," Newey told us when we spoke to him and Aston's Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman about the car last week.
That's an astonishing claim, but one the two companies are confident on delivering with the AM-RB 001's aero-sculpted design. That means that the ultimate version of the 001 will have to be around 20 seconds a lap quicker around the full Silverstone circuit than a McLaren P1 or Porsche 918.
Much of that will be down to the extraordinary aerodynamics of the car. The central teardrop passenger compartment makes it look like a Group C racer, but we're assured this is big enough for two occupants (apparently a photograph exists of Aston CEO Andy Palmer and the 6'4" Reichman sitting next to each other in the original design buck), but the rest of the car is as much about what isn't there as what is. There's a central underfloor keel with huge channels behind the front wheels. The rear incorporates an integrated wing element - we're told the car will have active aerodynamics - and what looks like a single exhaust tailpipe at the base of the rear screen.
Power will come from a naturally-aspirated, mid-mounted V12 engine which will drive the rear wheels only, and will possibly work in conjunction with a KERS-style hybrid assistance system. "The honest truth is that we are evaluating a whole load of potential solutions," Newey said, "it's fair to say that clearly hybrids offer a lot of opportunities, it's how we use those opportunities and whether they are necessary or whether you can do it purely mechanically." Whichever solution emerges from the simulator as the quickest will be the one adopted. There are no power or weight figures, but we're betting that the engine will produce at least as much as the 800hp V12 that is fitted to the Aston Martin Vulcan and that - to deliver on the performance claim - the track-only version of the car will have to weigh around a ton.
The joint project began nearly two years ago with Newey admitting it is substantially based on work he began before the partnership with Aston and that it owes something to the radical Red Bull X-1 he designed for Gran Turismo 5. According to Marek Reichman around 100 will be built, with deliveries starting either late next year or early 2018, and the road-legal version set to probably make up about three quarters of sales. There's no official word on the price tag - if Aston thinks you're a genuine prospect you can probably find out - but our steer from the inside is that the finished car will be between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000, with the slump in the value of sterling probably pushing it towards the higher figure. Despite that, the company says it already has 350 expressions of "serious interest" with several potential buyers apparently interested in purchasing both a road and a track spec version.