ASTON MARTIN and Red Bull’s hypercar, the AM–RB 001, is racing towards production. With a carbonfibre tub and powered by an atmo, mid-mounted V12, it will produce 1bhp for every kilo of still-unconfirmed kerbweight.
A key part of this incredible car’s development is the working relationship between Red Bull’s legendary F1 brainiac Adrian Newey and Aston’s chief engineer Matt Becker. Becker spoke exclusively to Wheels about how the project is progressing: “It’s fascinating to work with Adrian,” he explains. “I’ll say ‘we’d have such and such on a road car’ and he’ll say ‘well, we’d have that on a race car’; we’re approaching it from completely different angles, so finding common ground is important.”
Newey and Becker had not met before visiting a supplier for the AM-RB 001, but are currently meeting approximately once each month.
Becker reveals that the pair won’t benchmark the McLaren P1, LaFerrari or Porsche 918, focusing instead on in-house targets. But an evocative drive in Newey’s 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT for a magazine shoot sparked a discussion on the driving characteristics each preferred.
“Adrian is quite old school in that he likes a lot of mechanical feedback,” reveals Becker. “I do too, but Adrian’s interpretation of that is a lot of steering and braking effort. I suspect customers will find that too much work, and I’d prefer a more natural feel.
We’ll need a compromise!”
In fact, Becker is tasked with ensuring the extreme performance targets chased by Newey and the feedback he receives from GT3 works driver Darren Turner and F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo doesn’t intimidate owners. With Aston promising “unprecedented levels of downforce in a road-legal car” and 25 slick-shod, track-only variants with performance in line with LMP1, the fear-factor is high.
“The racing drivers’ job is to give the AM-RB 001 incredible capability at the top end, and we’ll get them going up to three times the cornering performance of a typical car,” says Becker. “But it can’t be impossible to enjoy until close to the limit or owners won’t get there. My job is to make it fun for everyone.”
As part of his acclimatisation for AM-RB 001, Becker has had laps in the Aston Martin Vulcan.
“Driving the Vulcan at Spa gave me a feel for the characteristics of aerodynamics and slicks at big speeds. I need to build my neck muscles up!”
While Newey is more familiar with the AM-RB 001’s extreme performance, he’s facing a different kind of learning curve. “Adrian is free from race regulations with this car,” says Becker, “But if anything he’ll have even more road regulations to deal with. That’s his mastery, though, working within the rules.”
With first deliveries of the 150 cars commencing in 2018, you can bet Becker and Newey are working enthusiastically on it right now.
Mercedes-AMG is building its own hypercar, known as Project One, powered by an engine lifted straight from the W07 F1 car.
But AMG chief Tobias Moers remains sceptical over the figures touted by Aston Martin for the AM-RB 001.
“Impressive numbers. I’m not necessarily believing every number these people are talking about,” he said.
“4.5Gs lateral is … more than impressive.”
The German manufacturer is finalising the design of its hypercar, and is currently working on nailing a middle ground between speed and comfort.
“It’ll have air conditioning, this is mandatory. It’s still a three-pointed-star car.
Is it being a compromise between everyday useability and track driving? No I don’t think so,” said Moers.
The AMG boss remained cagey when the topic of lap times was raised.
“We are going to use some comfort elements in the car, but it’s more dedicated to performance,” Moers added.