Red Bull Gives Aston Martin Wings

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
F1 takes to the road like never before

Red Bull Racing is one of Formula 1’s most phenomenal success stories; they entered the race as an underdog amongst the teams that had been competing for decades, most of which were actual manufacturers. Now however they’re a regular contender for the constructor’s championship, not to mention cultivating some of the best racers in F1.

The track however is a world away from the road. Not only is the level of performance more intensive, but there’s zero compromise when it comes to shaving those milliseconds of lap times. Great as that sounds to adrenaline junkies, it does mean that Red Bull are perhaps not the ideal name to create a road car you’ll actually enjoy driving. Not everyone has the kind of endurance training as Kimi Raikkonen.

Aston Martin on the other hand is quite the opposite. They’ve had their successes on the track over the years, but the modern incarnation of the esteemed British brand is that of elegant road cars. The Vulcan may have shown that they’re no strangers to uncompromising track-only performance, but it certainly wasn’t their usual line – which just goes to make the upcoming AM-RB 001 a truly remarkable project.

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The first collaboration between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin, the AM-RB 001 aims to take the quintessence of both names and combine them into a hypercar like never before – one which pushes the boundaries of not just performance but the very definition of road legal.

The guiding hands behind the project are Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer and the world’s most successful F1TM designer, Marek Reichman, Aston Martin EVP and Chief Creative Officer and David King, VP and Chief Special Operations Officer. To say that there’s experience there barely scratches the surface; these are three of the most accomplished names in automotive performance.

The basis for the car is an advanced carbon fibre chassis whose aerodynamics are the stuff of racing legends. Newey’s technological opus is able to generate more downforce than any other car currently on the road, almost in secret. Much of that force is generated through underfloor aerodynamics, something which no marque has really attempted off the track, but one which leaves the Aston Martin team free to showcase their particular talents.

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The silhouette is everything you could hope for from an Aston Martin hypercar, a more elegant, toned-down version of the Vulan’s overtly aggressive stylings. Smooth and sinuous, the AM-RB 001 is one continuous curve from front to back, pure yet breathtakingly dramatic. It may be a world away from the likes of the Vanquish, Vantage and DB series, but it’s still very much an Aston Martin.

On the technical side, not much has been revealed about the project so far; Aston Martin and Red Bull are understandably keeping their cards close to their chest this early on in the process. What we can say is that the naturally aspirated, V12 engine will apparently have the potency to achieve a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio. For ever kilo the car weighs, it will have 1 horsepower. Given that the original British hypercar, the McLaren P1 had a ratio of 1:0.647, Aston Martin’s is an intensely ambitious target.

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It’s should allow a level of performance that any track car would be proud of. There’s a downside though; it won’t be the most comfortable speed in the world for the average driver. To help cope, Newey and Red Bull Advanced Technologies have conceived a new suspension system, one capable of balancing that high speed pressure with the kind of comfort necessary for the collaborative concept to actually work.

While we currently know even less of the interiors than the technical specifications, there lies the crux of whether the AM-RB 001 will be a success or not. There’s little doubt that its performance will border insanity, especially in the 25 track-only versions that will be released. But the road is considerably different and, if the partnership is going to not feel forced, it needs to provide the kind of comfort and space that Aston Martin is associated with, one so incongruous on the track.

Balancing those road cars – the between 99 and 150 that will be built – will be the hardest aspect of the entire project, one that all three leads involved will most likely stay awake at night thinking about. If they manage that split personality without compromise however, they may have on their hands a game-changer. Let’s just hope Red Bull doesn’t give it wings; at those predicted speeds it may well leave the road entirely.

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