Unprecedented levels of downforce are needed if this road car is to fulfil Aston boss Andy Palmer’s promise that it will ‘lap Silverstone as fast as an F1 car’
Aston Martin and Red Bull’s £2.5m hypercar has extreme aerodynamics, light weight and more than 1000bhp
Autocar has learned that with no regulations to restrict development, several components and materials used on the £2.5 million hypercar are of far higher performance than those used on the latest F1 cars. No expense has been spared as Aston Martin’s designers and engineers work to make the Valkyrie faster around a lap than exotic alternatives like the Mercedes-AMG Project One, which also benefits from F1 tech.
Designers at the firm’s top-secret design centre at Gaydon have now completed the car’s exterior shape, which is said to be focused on aerodynamics, with only small tweaks and adjustments made for aesthetic reasons.
Although the 1000bhp-plus two-seater’s proportions have been known for many months, Newey, revered as the world’s greatest creator of F1 cars, has found further ways of increasing its aerodynamic downforce as his colleagues finessed details such as headlights, stoplights, scoops and badges.
«It’s been a learning curve for both us and Red Bull Racing,» said Libby Meigh, the Aston Martin colour and materials manager for the Valkyrie project who was at last night’s Autocar Awards event. «For us, we’ve learned so much about performance, while Red Bull has had to learn about road laws and including safety features into the car.»
Along with its road legality, the hypercar is going to need unprecedented levels of downforce if is to fulfil the promise of Aston boss Andy Palmer that it will “lap Silverstone as fast as an F1 car”. Sources at Gaydon have suggested the car will generate up to 4000lb (1816kg) of downforce at top speed.
Autocar had exclusive access to a fully detailed, full-sized model of the Valkyrie, shown to a small group of customers at the Monaco Grand Prix last year. The car, pictured here, was used as a demonstrator for prospective owners keen to try the Valkyrie’s F1-style, raised-feet driving position, and to begin deciding the specification of their cars. Meigh has met all of them, and told Autocar that their tastes and specifications have varied dramatically.
Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing expect to start making the planned run of 150 cars later this year, on a schedule to deliver the first Valkyries to customers during 2019. Jockeying for ownership has begun already: after advertisements purporting to offer Valkyrie build slots for sale, Palmer made it clear that Aston Martin would do whatever it could to resist such premium market trading.
Working together, Aston’s designers and Red Bull Racing’s Newey have made considerable changes since the first iteration of the Valkyrie was unveiled at Aston’s HQ last year. The biggest alteration is a set of new openings between the cockpit and front wheel arches, designed to increase downforce. Aston Martin’s designers have had the unusual job of incorporating these slots harmoniously into the Valkyrie’s overall styling, to ensure aesthetic quality as well as aerodynamic function.
“Much of what you see from outside is the actual structure of the car which had to be signed off quite early,» said chief designer Miles Nurnberger. «Non-structural areas were still subject to evolution as Adrian continued finding improvements.
“Ordinarily, the last thing we’d want is to cut a hole in one of our surfaces, but these new vents work the front wings so much harder that we’ve found a significant gain in front downforce. They have their own functional beauty, but we’ve finessed them without harming the way they work. They also work as windows through which owners can view our fabulous wing-section front wishbones.”
The extent to which the Valkyrie’s main proportions are shaped in the wind tunnel means it makes a complete break from supercars of the past. A low, two-seat, beetlebacked passenger pod with no rear window sits between two large, full-length venturi tunnels. They draw air from beneath the car to feed a very prominent rear diffuser. These tunnels are key to the car’s aero performance, said Aston design boss Marek Reichman, who has worked on this project side by side with Newey.
Despite their aerodynamic obsession, the Valkyrie’s creators are at pains to point out that this car is comfortable and surprisingly spacious, accommodating “a wide range of shapes and sizes”. Occupants must step over the lower aero structure to gain access through a pair of gullwing doors reminiscent of access to a Le Mans racer, but with larger openings.
“It has been a tremendous challenge making the interior packaging work,” said Aston designer Matt Hill. “We’ve embraced Red Bull’s F1 ethos and come at things from a different angle. We’ve started from a position that seemed impossible and found a way to make it work, fighting for millimetres everywhere.” The result of that work is comfortable accommodation for two fairly large adults.
“The battle has been worth it,” said Hill. “It has been fantastic watching customers trying the car for size. They love the ritual of getting in, and how it feels behind the wheel. They’re genuinely surprised at how the car seems to swallow them.”
Valkyrie owners will be able to have tailored seats made, if they desire, moulded directly to the car’s carbonfibre tub. Aston is pleased with early reactions to the race-style feet-up driving position, which creates a sense of occasion and allows occupants to be reclined further than normal to create head room. A fourpoint harness is standard.
The Valkyrie’s interior treatment reflects the keenness of Aston’s designers to reduce driver distractions. The traditional exterior mirrors are replaced by rearfacing left- and right-hand cameras, whose reduced …read more