The Aston Martin and Red Bull AM-RB 001 hypercar could be faster than a Formula 1 car around Silverstone, according to Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer.
Speaking exclusively to Autocar, Palmer revealed that the freer regulations around road car design than F1 design meant that Adrian Newey had targetted performance that could exceed that of the Red Bull F1 car.
“It’s a very edgy, spicy car,” said Palmer. “You probably wouldn’t want to take it through Hyde Park every day - it’s not that kind of car. There’s two seats and some baggage space, but you might not get the golf clubs in there. We’re saying it could be faster than an F1 car around Silverstone.”
Palmer also confirmed that the car will be a mid-engined two-seater and that some form of electrification was likely, although he hinted it is more likely to be via an F1-style energy recovery system (KERS) to give limited boosted performance than an all-electric powertrain.
“We’ll have a bespoke Aston engine,” he said. “To give us the kind of output we need it has to be a very special engine - it can’t be repurposed. We’re not commenting on the configuration beyond saying it is mid-engined and extraordinarily powerful. As you can imagine when we talk about pulling technology over from F1, you’d expect us to have some form of KERS-style electrical system.”
Andy Palmer, CEO Aston Martin, on the Red Bull hypercar deal
How did this deal come about?“We always said we wouldn’t go into F1 without authenticity, and that authenticity comes in the shape of a hypercar. I needed this car in my strategy for the second century of Aston Martin, to sit at the top of the range.
“To be our halo car it had to be something very special and to be very special it had to be mid-engined. We have never done a mid-engined car before. To move to mid-engined it had to be a car that would have no excuses - hence, the raison d’etre to make it the quickest car around a track.”
What prompted the deal with Red Bull?“Having set out to build the world’s best hypercar you then ask who will do your aero design. The natural partner was Adrian, who I knew from a previous life [through Infiniti’s sponsorship of Red Bull]. We made a connection.
“He was very excited as he’s always dreamt of doing a road car and we were very excited as he’s the most successful F1 designer out there. The relationship with Red Bull Racing came later, and in many ways, it’s part of visually cementing that relationship with Adrian.”
Where will this hypercar sit against its opposition?“It’s not for me to make comparisons, but McLaren once did an F1 and I guess it sits in that space, because of the link with a famous aero designer. There hasn’t been a car in that space until now.”
How many cars will you build, and who will buy them?“Around 99 cars is the plan, with the car on the road in 2018. The market is very broad. Take the Vulcan - some owners will race it on tracks, some will put it in a collection. We expect the same here. Vulcan customers will get preference to place orders for this car, and the rest is going to be allocated on a first come first served basis. We won’t talk about pricing yet but it’s where you’d expect a car of this nature to be, with a bit of brand equity on top.”
Do you have wider ambitions in F1?“I have spoken to Bernie but it is basically what it is - a badge on the Red Bull car to reflect the innovation partnership. Everyone knows Aston Martin around the world, but we want to educate that there’s more to us than James Bond - there’s racing heritage and craftmanship and technical expertise, and we want to use F1 to communicate this as well as the hypercar.
Why pick F1 over an increased World Endurance Championship presence?“We’re small but we’re innovative, and we’re blessed with a brand that pulls interest. Aston hasn’t been in F1 since before I was born, and it wasn’t that successful then, so to continue writing that history while keeping our roots in the world endurance championship is very exciting. And, of course, we continue to focus on our efforts with Prodrive in the World Endurance Championship - nothing touches our roots in and around Le Mans.”
Is the deal with Red Bull an equity partnership or a sponsorship one?“It’s a technical partnership. Money changes hands in so far as we have commissioned Red Bull Technology to do the engineering and we will also transaction money to get the logo on the car. So there’s that kind of relationship, but no equity transfer.”
Will AM-RB 001 be the only fruits of the partnership?“I see it as an ongoing relationship that’s about more than just a car. We have specifically talked of the AM-RB 001 as the first output of the relationship, but we are also interested in looking at things like batteries and KERS systems crossover, structural carbon design learnings, and more.”
Will it be the next James Bond car?“That’s a conversation we will have with Eon. Of course, it would be a phenomenal James Bond car, but we haven’t had the chat yet.”
Reporting: Dieter Rencken