Mercedes-AMG ‘Project One’ hypercar set for September launch
AMG is set to be 50 this year, and the company’s celebrations will peak with the reveal of the highly anticipated 1,000bhp-plus Project One hypercar at the Frankfurt motor show this September.
The CEO of Daimler Dr Zetsche said of the forthcoming ‘hypercar’: “The hypercar will be the missing link legitimising the integration of AMG with the Formula One team. It will be limited production, and ideally we want it to be sold out before the first one is delivered. It’s the first street legal car with a Formula One engine, and will be perceived as the ultimate sports car. We have relatively strong indications that this could be an achievable target.”
Project One will be utilising the same hybrid powertrain as the current, totally dominant Mercedes F1 car, with necessary alterations for road use. A teaser glimpse of the new car was seen at the CES exhibition in Las Vegas earlier this year, Mercedes has now also released the first official image of the car, which shows a roof-mounted central air intake, large vents and cooling slats on the rear, plus an ultra-wide rear track. In addition to this, it will also feature a central fin, which will provide a sizable amount of aerodynamic downforce for a road car.
Interestingly, the new AMG raises the bar for high-end, high-performance cars to a level above current offerings such as the McLaren P1, LaFerrari, Porsche 918, and the Bugatti Chiron. As a fascinating side battle to their dualling on the Formula One circuits around the world, both Mercedes and Red Bull are now vying with each other to produce the most authentic F1-influenced road car. Project One goes head to head with the Adrian Newey designed Aston Martin AM-RB001 – announced last summer. AMG boss Tobias Moers points out that there are significant differences, saying: “Five years ago the brand was not capable of doing [a hypercar]. Now we are,
“It was very clear to us that it could not be a V8 or V12 hybrid car. It should be something really special. Who else, other than us, could try to bring a Formula One engine to the street? I called Andy [Cowell, MD of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains] and said, ‘have a think about it. Can you do it?’ He said, ‘give me two months’. He came back and said, ‘yep, we can do it.’
“The feasibility study started at the end of October 2015, and that lasted until the end of February last year. Then we had a clear understanding of how we could achieve it. Where are we up to? The exterior design is frozen. We’re currently finalising the interior. We fired up the first engine last year.”
“To me, there is no sense in having a V8 or V12, it should be something more sophisticated regarding efficiency and driveability. That’s why we’re going to use the 1.6-litre V6, with the split turbine, with the electric motor on the crank, and the all-wheel drive application. Everything we learnt from the SLS e-drive will also feature on this car… when you talk about torque vectoring and four motors on each wheel, we learned a lot from that car, about how to tune the systems for the ultimate driving dynamics. Now we’re going to apply all of that to Project One.”
Moers was not giving too much away with regards to the car’s overall design, but did say that “we need space for cooling, for radiators. Maybe some of the others don’t, but we do…” He also confirmed that Project One will feature a bespoke gearbox, and that the battery will be a different type to that used in the Formula One car.
“We’ve entered a closed loop with Andy on the load spec we’re applying to the car. We’ve taken what we’ve learned on the Black Series cars and the GT R and applied that to the F1 endurance simulation. On a street car the demands are different for sure, so yes, it’s something to think about, but it’s not the biggest task. Making the engine street legal is tougher – turning the revs down to idle speed, for example. The F1 engine idles at 4,000rpm, it’ll be 1,200 or so on this car.”