I don’t know about you but since the news that Red Bull’s F1 design guru Adrian Newey was teaming up with Aston Martin for a ‘new project’, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for what kind of machine the two could produce together. Despite the lengthy wait, nothing could quite prepare any of us for what we saw when the AM-RB 001 prototype was showcased in early July.
Once launched the codename will be changed to something more elegant (and probably beginning with a ‘V’) but no doubt the bold body shapes that make it the eye catching will remain. It’s a little Marmite (personally I love it) however every carbon fibre-formed surface has been meticulously sculpted on CAE software to produce a car that meets Newey’s intense focus on aerodynamics.
Whilst most of the technical details haven’t been revealed, this blog post aims to cover some of the aerodynamic features of the car’s body, shrink-wrapped around the mid-mounted naturally aspirated V12 engine at its core. Although Swedish car company Koenigsegg have already achieved this, Aston Martin and Newey also target a 1:1 ratio for the 2018 launch – that is one bhp per one kilo of weight.
The aerodynamic features of this car – even compared to existing hypercars such as the McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari – are remarkable. Unlike a conventional hypercar car where the driver sits virtually on the ground, the core of the AM-RB has been removed to create a venturi tunnel for air to pass right through. The advantages of doing this were explored when Nissan entered Le Mans last year, see my analysis of their car entry here.
The front splitter resembles more of a wing than anything else, with each of its two elements arcing to meet the footplate at its extremities. This is almost identical to what the Red Bull F1 team have been doing for some time as a way to generate vortices around the front tyre. However, the wing on the AM-RB sits within the front wheel track so the vortex generated will instead offset turbulence generated by the front tyre away from the completely smooth underbody to produce a greater venturi effect.
Both the edges of the splitter and the sides of the car feature the arched footplate geometry that we see frequently in motorsport. As the air progresses along the ‘tunnel’ it speeds up, creating a pressure difference that causes airflow to migrate from the top of the plate to the lower edge. This in turn generates vortices that are aimed at controlling tyre wake, hence why this bodywork is seen ahead of both the front and rear wheels of the car.
Air intakes sprout from the elegant doors, the flow that feeds them passing through the inside of the car via large turning vanes – the kind you see hanging beneath the chassis of an F1 car but much bigger – behind the front wheels.
At the rear, the centre of the car has been pulled out and upwards to complete the venturi tunnel, with curved end fences concealing the inside face of the rear tyres and carbon bodywork covering the half shafts and differential for maximum efficiency. A minimal twin element rear wing lies along the top, lipped at the middle, to further entice airflow out from beneath.
Quite how many of these features will exist on the road going version of the car is unclear but I sincerely hope it’s all of them.