The AM-RB 001 has been revealed, so we chat to Red Bull's racing tech chief, Adrian Newey about what to expect from the new hypercar.
How versatile do you want this car to be?
“My view on that harks back to what I learned from my father, who was a vet. He had a Mini Cooper and a Lotus Elan, and he used them for everything, farm visits included. So I grew up with the idea that a performance car should also be capable of taking its owner to the shops or the theatre and be comfortable doing it. So our car will combine two technologies: it will be docile, but extremely quick. The synergies with Aston Martin are obvious.”
But it’ll have its own engine and chassis?
“Of course. The engine is a very compact, bespoke, naturally aspirated V12. And the car itself will have quite a lot of downforce. But it’ll be a small car by modern standards, so getting the occupants comfortable in a very small package and allowing them to get in and out easily is one of our challenges.”
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How about the transmission?
“That’s one of our major research areas. We don’t much like the current trends of double-clutch gearboxes; they weigh 150kg and they’re very bulky, which doesn’t suit the concept. So we’re seeing what we can do about that. Packaging the powertrain and its cooling gear has taken a few iterations; I’m working on the Mk6 right now.”
Don’t you feel a supercar needs to be a certain size, a certain scale, to be imposing to its buyers?
“I totally disagree with that. This car will be small, but I believe it will still have plenty of ‘wow’.” In a high-downforce road car, how do you provide spring rates that can handle the load at speed yet deliver comfort going slower?
“We have an answer, but you’ll have to wait for that one. We’re still heavily in the research stage, and we’ve been into quite a few new areas. The exact spec is still pretty fluid and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible. That’s the beauty of engineering today: you can do a lot with simulation with no cost other than time. When you come to make the hardware, it can be right first time.”
Who will buy this car? Rich people, clearly, but what will its special appeal be?
“They’ll be people who love driving. This won’t be the kind of supercar that owners have to psyche themselves up to drive. I also hope they’ll appreciate that cars can be aesthetically great. Beauty with function is the essence of what we’ll be offering.”
Are you enjoying working with Marek Reichman to create a car whose purpose is partly beauty?
“It’s very satisfying. At school, I was better at art than science, so the whole process is great. And F1 cars aren’t particularly good-looking. Their proportions really went wrong when they were given long wheelbases and narrow tracks. In the beginning, I drew my idea for the car without reference to road car regulations, and it turned out to be a pretty good way of doing it.”