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The Mercedes-AMG Project One has been on the radar now for over a year, promising to bring an F1-like driving experience to the road. Now, Mercedes has finally divulged that its F1-powered hypercar will be called the Mercedes-AMG One. The new name isn’t a huge departure from the car’s working title, Project One, that its been known as up to now.
As well as the new yet not-so-new name, Mercedes-AMG has released images of the One displaying its active aerodynamic functions. The most dramatic of which are the vents above the front wheels; four panels on each side of the car’s front clam hinge upwards to create what look like gills behind the headlights.
In all of the previous images that we’ve seen of the One, it’s had its front vents either fully retracted or only slightly protruding from bodywork. Even in the recently published shots of the car testing in the UK at Millbrook proving ground, it was in, presumably, its low-drag configuration. The latest shots show the extreme angles these vents can reach.
There’s some visible active aero at the back too, thanks to a two-piece wing. One element stretches across the entire width of the rear, while a centre section – as wide as the car’s carbonfibre engine cover – is able to rise independently of the main wing. A large diffuser wraps around the entire rear of the car and up the sides to further aid downforce. The rest of the back remains largely open to dissipate as much heat as possible.
Mercedes-AMG has revealed images of a Project One development mule testing at Millbrook proving ground, not a surprising location thanks to its close proximity to Mercedes-Petronas’ development HQ in Brackley. This next generation hypercar promises to re-establish what we think is possible in a road car, and judging by these shots it looks like the road car will remain faithful to the near-production concept revealed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.
Due to cost around GBP 2 million when it reaches customers next year, the Project One’s internals are amazingly similar to those of Lewis Hamilton’s weekend wheels. The same cannot be said for exterior though, which follows contemporary hypercar styling trends. That said, the design has been heavily influenced by the powertrain’s requirement for vast volumes of oxygen for cooling and combustion. The roof intake – channeling air straight to the engine – has been lifted from the F1 car, while further intakes found either side of the front apron also supply air to the high tech power unit. Maximising aero efficiency, three mechanised slats sit flush with the front wings and open-up to pull air out of the front arches to relieve the pressure. It’s a similar system to that found on a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Out at the back, the diffuser’s extremities wrap-around the main body on either side of the car, while the rest of the rear remains largely open to dissipate as much heat as possible. The active rear-wing extends out as well as up to achieve a greater surface area and thus, more downforce. But these details are just the tip of this technological iceberg, so keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the Mercedes-AMG Project One.
What marks out the Project One from hypercars before it is the drivetrain. Be in no doubt that the ‘Formula 1 car for the road’ tagline isn’t just marketing guff. It’s a fact. One Mercedes has been keen to emphasise in the build-up to the car’s arrival. Aft of the passenger cell you’ll find the EQ POWER+ powertrain that has propelled Mercedes to four consecutive constructors and drivers’ championships. Speaking about this application of the Formula 1 powertrain, Mercedes-AMG CEO, Tobias Moers said, ‘we are the first to make Formula 1 technology roadworthy.’
As you might expect, all-wheel drive plays a part, delivered and intelligently vectored by an electric motor in each front wheel. But let’s start with the game changer at the back. As with the current Mercedes F1 car, the rear wheels are driven by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol V6 with direct injection and, for the sake of longevity, an 11,000rpm red line – dialled down from the 13,500rpm Lewis has to play with but still vaguely nuts compared with anything even the driver of the most hyperactive hypercar is used to.
A strategically tamed WO8 motor, then? Not exactly. AMG calls it a ‘bespoke unit’ that marries elements from WO6, WO7 and WO8. The engineering is exactly the same, though. Air is fed into the engine by a combined mechanical and electrically-driven turbocharging system with the exhaust turbine located near the exhaust and the compressor near the roof-mounted air intake. They’re joined by a long shaft to which is connected an 80 kW electric motor. This primes the turbocharger to eliminate lag and, according to AMG, gift the V6 faster responses than a naturally-aspirated V8. The electric motor also recovers waste exhaust energy which can then be used to replenish the hybrid battery block or directly drive the MGUK.
It stands for Motor Generator Unit Kinetic, another electric motor positioned on the side of the crankcase and directly connected to the crankshaft. It can either drive the crankshaft, adding 120 kW to the power tally, or be driven by it. AMG claims that the combined petrol-electric elements working as a complete unit achieve an unprecedented thermal efficiency of around 40 per cent against a norm of 30-32 per cent. It’s as close as you’ll get to guilt-free 1000bhp+ motoring. Sitting behind the engine an all-new 8-speed, single clutch, transmission and, above that, the exhaust system which, unlike the F1 version, has a silencer and catalytic converter but retains the single tailpipe.
Each of the electric motors at the front axle delivers 120 kW, and each has a tiny gearbox to permit torque vectoring. The battery cells, their configuration, connectors and direct cell liquid cooling are all a direct lift from F1. However, the 800 volt high voltage system (contained in two battery housings on each side of the car) has four times the capacity used in F1. The higher voltage level reduces voltage losses, not least in the cables. It also allows significantly shorter changing times with a constant current level. Project One’s driving programs will even have an all-electric mode with just the front axle driven, giving a range of up to 25km. The most extreme ‘dynamic’ mode, on the other hand, will apparently adopt settings used in F1 to achieve the best possible lap times in qualifying.
Not strictly up for discussion on this ‘powertrain reveal’ but the suspension system will have race car style, horizontally packaged, pushrod dampers, a carbon tub, carbon ceramic brakes and, of course, active aero. But perhaps most remarkably of all, AMG reckons Project One owners will be able to drive their cars for 50,000km rather than after a brisk trip around the houses in Monaco before the first ‘revision’ is needed, which means removing the engine and transmission and taking them apart to see what’s been going on, just like a race car. But given the evidence that hypercars tend to accumulate quickly-covered miles at a leisurely rate, the 50k day can probably be put off for a couple of years at least. So thank goodness for the stress-easing effect of that 11,000rpm red line.
As Project One is still undergoing fine tuning in simulation phase, no prototypes have been built yet, save for a mule running the EQ Power+ pack. But AMG is already talking up what Project One will be capable of. For instance, it will have better traction than a Mercedes F1 car. ‘Good for perfect acceleration and record lap times, especially the Nordschleife.’ That will be something to see.
Ola Källenius said that Mercedes-AMG would make ‘Between 200 to 300’ – a number that Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers has now revealed to be 275 units. Moers has also now confirmed that the company has more than 1000 people interested in the car, effectively confirming the market for what could be one of the most dramatic hypercars ever.