Newey, long considered Formula 1’s foremost technical thinker, and Reichman, responsible for shaping the new generation of Aston Martins, have forged a fruitful working relationship. Discovering that they think along similar lines was a huge bonus for the pair as they set about creating an all-new sports car that will serve as a ‘legacy’ road car for Newey and a halo vehicle for Aston.
Comment: Why the Aston Martin Red Bull AM-RB 001 could be the car that defines a decade
Despite his career in racing, the idea of road car design has lingered in Newey’s imagination since his formative years. “My dad was a great tinkerer with cars,” he says. “He had Mini Cooper Ss, Lotus Elans, that sort of thing, and used to do all of his own maintenance. He had a little workshop where he would modify them and I used to help him.”
Newey began sketching his own cars and then “using dad’s workshop to fold up bits of aluminium and fibreglass, making my own designs”.
His final-year project at the University of Southampton explored how ground-effect aerodynamics – all the rage in Formula 1 at the time – could be applied to a road-going sports car. “I built a full-scale wind tunnel model of [my car]; that’s as far as it got, but it helped to get me my first job in motor racing,” he says.
He admits he finds the sport’s current regulations restrictive from a chassis perspective, so while he’s been immersed in Formula 1, he’s also kept an eye on road car design.
“I read Autocar and I’ve always remained interested in road cars,” he says. “I enjoy driving; my treat to myself when we won the Formula 1 championship in 2010 was to buy an Aston Martin Vantage, and I also have a DB4 GT that I use as a road car on sunny days. So I’ve always admired Aston as a brand and I’ve always been interested in sports cars, in particular small, efficient ones.”
Andy Palmer’s move from Nissan, where he had become acquainted with Newey via the Infiniti-Red Bull F1 tie-up, to become chief executive of Aston Martin presented an opportunity for the project partners to come together. But this is more than a marriage of convenience; since the project got under way in January, the design chiefs of Red Bull and Aston have found that their visions are closely aligned.
Neatly mirroring Newey’s early immersion in small, fun sports cars, Reichman’s first road car was an Austin Healey Sprite, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that the two designers have similar ideas as to what makes the perfect sports car.
Comment: Could the Aston Martin AM-RB 001 race at Le Mans?