A few days before the Red Bull RB17 hypercar project came to light, it seemed a fitting time to experience chief engineer Adrian Newey’s already extant expression of Formula 1 performance in an allegedly accessible form.
I say ‘allegedly’ because the surface of the potential that exists within the preposterous 1160bhp Aston Martin Valkyrie can barely be scratched by the likes of your humble correspondent – which is why, for once, a ride rather than a drive up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed made the most sense.
The experience was over in less than 50 seconds and reminded me once again how professional racing drivers exist in another realm from the rest of us.
My chauffeur was Peter Dumbreck, who for the past two decades has raced potent GT cars all around the world, from Le Mans to Suzuka to the Nordschleife. A winner in the DTM, he’s forever remembered as the guy who survived (with barely a scratch) a flipping Mercedes-Benz CLR at Le Mans in 1999.
Today, he’s one of an increasing number of pros discovering new avenues for his skills as a developer of high-performance cars for manufacturers large and small, and he has spent past months pounding around circuits, pushing the limits of the Valkyrie to test not only its abilities but also its endurance.
Dumbreck will continue to do so until November, when the development programme is due to be wound up. The upgrades he is helping to perfect are being delivered to those fortunate customers who already have their gilded mitts on a Valkyrie, in the same way that we receive updates for our phones.