Aston Martin is returning to Formula 1 this season with Red Bull in a partnership agreement that brings the British sportscar manufacturer back to F1, having been away since it first tested the waters in 1959 and 1960.
On the heels of the release of all new DB11, the replacement for the 13-year old DB9 coupe, Aston Martin’s innovative partnership is not a simple branding move, but instead will merge F1 design engineer Adrian Newey’s aerodynamic genius with the design heritage of Aston Martin to produce a singular hypercar that it hopes can lap tracks faster than an F1 car. Codenamed Project AM-RB 001 “Nebula”, the vehicle is scheduled to see daylight sometime in 2018.
Newey is one of the most lauded and experienced design engineers on the planet, credited with numerous aerodynamic and suspension breakthroughs with Williams F1 and McLaren before moving to Red Bull in 2006. He had lately considered leaving the sport, lamenting that F1 cars are no longer the pinnacle of automotive technology due to the many restrictions placed on them. It’s easy to speculate that Red Bull sees this partnership as a way to keep Newey, and his restless mind, from moving from Red Bull to other exploits.
From their side, Aston Martin, one of the very few independent carmakers still alive, is bestowed with a hypercar that their CEO Andy Palmer says, is “about spectacular beauty, aerodynamic efficiency, advanced technology and getting around a race track in a fast, but elegant way.”
While the first visible part of the partnership will be the appearance of Aston Martin brand identification on the side pods and nose of the RB12 for the entire 2016 season, the tantalising part of the deal will be centered on an advanced vehicle design with no design restrictions. Newey says he’s always wanted to work on an unlimited supercar…“it’s always been bubbling away, resulting in sketches and doodles over the years.”
One can imagine Newey producing an unfettered Aston Martin, incorporating 2,000, even 3,000 horsepower, with more downforce than any car in history, featuring triple blown diffusers, perhaps even a fan car like Newey’s RBX concepts. Then, taking marketing advantage of complaints that restrictions are making the F1 cars slower, the Aston Martin Red Bull “Nebula” might appear at each F1 track and demonstrate how fast auto racing could be with more freedom of design and choice.
This is his chance.
Aston Martin’s partnership will see Newey serving as the technical director while styling will be finalised by Aston Martin’s chief creative officer, Marek Reichman. Aston’s bespoke customization department, Q, will be tasked with making the vehicle road-legal.
The joint press release graphic provided reveals a sketch of bubbles and swoopy lines suggesting the companies are giving nothing away. Representatives simply say the car will feature aerodynamic lessons from F1 with the design language of an Aston. More likely, Newey’s no-limits design brief guarantees a final product sure to stun rival auto manufacturers much the same as his breakthrough F1 designs left his fellow competitors scrambling to catch up.