When Aston Martin and Red Bull announced a mysterious hypercar project, our interest was well and truly piqued. The thought of a road car with aerodynamics by Adrian Newey is enough to get any motorsports fan fired up, let alone one designed by Aston Martin whiz Marek Reichman. Unsurprisingly, the results of their collaboration are stunning. The AM-RB 001 mixes state-of-the-art underbody aerodynamics with a silhouette to make car lovers weak at the knees, in what promises to be one of the most innovative car designs we've seen in a long time.
Just a quick glance at the AM-RB 001's heavily sculpted flanks is enough to know this is something special, even in a world flush with remarkable cars like the McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918. Built around a carbon-fiber structure, it doesn't rely on big wings and scoops to create downforce. Instead, Adrian Newey has used a complex weave of stationary underbody components to create downforce, giving chief designer Marek Reichman free rein to make the body fit in with the classic Aston aesthetic.
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All of this complex design and forward-thinking aerodynamics is thanks, in part, to the tight restrictions placed on Formula 1 designers. For every one of Newey's innovations, there's a rule tweak or restriction to stop it giving Red Bull an advantage. Road cars aren't constrained by such draconian rules about diffusers and downforce, opening the door for one of the world's great aerodynamicists to see his wildest repressed visions come to life.
"Road cars have far less legislation to restrict the design," Newey told Gizmag earlier this year. "To have opportunities to explore lots of different areas, and try to do things perhaps a little bit differently to any other road car that's out there at the moment is fantastic."
For a project of such importance, details are a bit difficult to come by at the moment. We know power will come from a mid-mounted, naturally aspirated V12 with enough grunt to give the car a perfect 1:1 power-to-weight ratio, putting it in territory previously reserved for the unhinged Koenigsegg One:1.
We also know that power will be transmitted to the road through a clean-sheet gearbox dreamed up by Newey, but developed by the team in Red Bull's Advanced Technologies lab. Likewise, the suspension system is a unique design capable of coping with extreme aerodynamic loading at high speed, but also capable of delivering a usable on-road ride. This duality of purpose is something, according to Newey, intrinsic to the AM-RB 001.
"I knew Red Bull Racing had the ability to handle the pure performance aspects, but Aston Martin's experience of making beautiful, fast and comfortable GT cars is of great benefit to the project," he said. "I've always been adamant that the AM-RB 001 should be a true road car that's also capable of extreme performance on track, and this means it really has to be a car of two characters. That's the secret we're trying to put into this car - the technology that allows it to be docile and comfortable, but with immense outright capabilities"
This sentiment is echoed by Dr. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin's CEO and President.
"To have Aston Martin working alongside Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing and the invaluable assistance of project partner AF Racing AG is an extraordinary creative collaboration. One that unites the very best of road and race car thinking," Palmer said, speaking at the car's unveiling in London on Tuesday. "As the project gathers pace its clear the end result will be a truly history-making hypercar that sets incredible new benchmarks for packaging, efficiency and performance and an achievement that elevates Aston Martin to the very highest level."
You might have already worked this out, but we're a bit excited about the AM-RB 001. It's not often a car company starts with a completely blank page, and even less often they give one of the world's greatest designers and aerodynamicists the opportunity to sketch out his ideal road car design unburdened by the weight of restrictions and rules.
This promises to be one of the most exciting developments in the motoring world, up there with the McLaren F1 as a once-in-a-generation proposition and it's one we'll be following very closely.
Source: Aston MartinView gallery - 30 images