Last summer I got a tip-off from a friend in the F1 paddock, Dieter Rencken, that something was brewing between Aston Martin, Red Bull and Mercedes - and the outcome of the discussions could be both an Adrian Newey-designed hypercar and the Red Bull F1 team switching to Mercedes engines.
It was the afternoon after qualifying for the British Grand Prix and I was out with my kids. That afternoon I wasn’t a very good dad as I tried to ring every source I could to verify the truth of two massive stories.
It was a difficult process, but the discussions over Red Bull securing a Mercedes engine supply - and with it Aston Martin sponsorship - were the first to stack up. That night we put the story on autocar.co.uk, and both the F1 and wider world heaped derision on my shoulders as a fantasist - or, worse still to my mind, someone planting clickbait to promote their website.
What was noticeable, though, was the angry folk that rang me and told me I was wrong in the immediate aftermath started to dial back their denials within hours, while the straight-talking folk refused to deny the possibility of the deal. In the subsequent days, I wrote a blog partly explaining the deal in more detail and partly trying to convince myself the story made sense - not that it appeared to appease the doubters.
In some ways the doubters were proved right - the deal, which was discussed and progressed to a very late stage, fell apart when the F1 team bosses got the ear of their paymasters and persuaded them they didn’t want the competition. But then I’d never said it would happen - just that it could.
The rumours over Adrian Newey’s Aston Martin hypercar were harder still to pin down, especially as it appeared tied to the Red Bull and Mercedes deal in F1 happening. Then another contact got in touch and put the final piece in the story. A friend of a friend knew someone on Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team and suggested the iconic F1 designer, who had been working with the team as a consultant, had found a project even more interesting to work on.
So it is we ran the front cover story you see above, and the details of which you can read here. It was a big call by editor Matt Burt to make it the lead story, especially given the controversy over the suggestion that Red Bull was after Mercedes F1 engines was still raging, but he was adamant that if the sources were trusted, we had to back our instincts.
Today, via a circuitous route, comes the vindication, as this morning Aston and Red Bull have confirmed they are indeed building a “next generation” hypercar together, which for now is called the AM-RB 001.
Sure, there’s no Mercedes engine in the back of the F1 car, but it is carrying Aston wings. More importantly for road car fans, the much-vaunted Newey hypercar is on the way.
My kids may not thank me, but this morning I’m glad I spent that Saturday afternoon glued to the phone.