Aston Martin has shown the seriousness of its intent to challenge the likes of Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] and McLaren Automotive when it comes to building the fastest, most technologically-advanced road cars, by announcing a technical partnership with the Red Bull Racing Formula One team.
Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer made the announcement today at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, currently underway in Melbourne. The moment represented the first time the Aston Martin name was referenced in grand prix racing since 1960. Red Bull’s F1 car for the new season, the RB12, will even wear Aston Martin’s winged logo.
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But this isn’t a bit of marketing spin like Red Bull’s previous partnership with Infiniti. As part of the deal, Red Bull's Chief Technical Officer, renowned race car designer Adrian Newey, will help develop a new hypercar for Aston Martin. Newey will work closely with Aston Martin design boss Marek Reichman on the new car, codenamed Project AM-RB 001. It will blend Aston Martin’s signature style with cutting edge F1 technology, Aston Martin promises.
“Formula One offers the ultimate global stage to build wider awareness of the Aston Martin brand,” Palmer said. “However, this partnership will deliver even more than that when the hypercar that Aston Martin and Adrian Newey are in the process of developing hits the road.”
Red Bull Racing RB12 2016 Formula One car
Exactly what technologies will be transferred over from F1 remains to be seen, though Palmer hinted at some of the possibilities. He explained that at Red Bull you have some of the world’s best aerodynamicists and composite experts. In particular, you have Newey, an expert at aerodynamics and someone who has always wanted to design the ultimate road car.
“From the age of six I have had two goals in life—to be involved in the design of racing cars, and to be involved in the design of a supercar,” Newey said. “Whilst the former ambition went on to form my career to date, the latter has always bubbled away, resulting in countless sketches and doodles over the years.”
Newey led the design of Red Bull’s four championship-winning F1 cars (2010-2013), though in recent years he’s taken on more of a consulting role than leading the design. Unconstrained by the strict regulations of F1, it will be interesting to see what kind of car he and the rest of the Project AM-RB 001 team come up with.
Not much is known about the car, though we can confirm that development work has already been underway for some time. Palmer hinted that it will feature a mid-engine layout and some form of hybrid technology.
It will have an extremely limited production run, possibly as low as 100 cars, and there will be a dedicated track program built around it, similar to what Aston Martin has done with its current Vulcan model. Unlike the Vulcan, owners of the AM-RB 001 will be able to drive their car on the street.
A mock-up will be shown to potential customers in the coming months. A debut, however, is likely to be more than a year away still. Hopefully some prototypes will turn up before then.
Back in the 1980s, Gordon Murray, working for the McLaren F1 team at the time, came up with the F1 road car, one of the greatest supercars of all time. It looks like history is about to be repeated.