The Aston Martin Valkyrie is pegged as an ‘F1 car for the road’. But is it really? With a little help from Aston Martin F1’s Otmar Szafnauer, the Valkyrie Chief Engineer Fraser Dunn and a big, fat Aston Martin F1 car, Magazine’s Ollie Marriage investigates. Series 29: Geneva Online Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team?
it’s the car that started life back in 2017 as the am rb001 the brainchild of legendary f1 designer adrian newey a v12 hybrid hyper car with over a thousand horsepower and enough aero to glue itself to the ceiling it’s an aston martin valkyrie and yes we have seen it before and what we know about it already is that it is apparently the ultimate f1 car for the road but how do we prove that well look it’s aston martin’s new formula one car well here’s aston’s new f1 car but not its first back when drivers wore bow ties aston spent a year in f1 competing in five races with the best finish of sixth this was 1959. in 2021 they’ll be hoping for a lot more from drivers seb vettel and lance stroll third in the championship is the aim the team previously known as racing point and before that force india is owned by lawrence stroll lance’s dad and a major stakeholder in the aston road car business so what if anything is the overlap between f1 car and valkyrie who better to talk us through the f1 car than the ceo of aston martin f1 opmah saffnower right opmah we hear a lot about the tech transfer between formula one and road cars we’ve got the formula one car here and i know it’s 2020s formula one car rather than 2021s but what are the carryover bits between the formula one car we see there and the valkyrie we’ve got here for sure this carbon fiber monocoque that we have here is also present here it’s a little bit bigger and the shape is a little bit different but the technology definitely f1 inspired f1 inspired f1 technology in in the chassis or the monocoque as well as the the powertrain being bolted onto the monocoque and being a stress member carrying suspension loads through it the suspension is absolutely similar to this it’s uh push rods and uh wishbones which came from formula all of which came from racing cars of formula one first and now onto a road car and i’ve noticed that uh the valkyrie has uh brake ducts which are an important and integral part of a formula one car for many reasons not just to cool the brakes this valkyrie to me has probably as much formula one technology as any other road car that i know of and going forward in the future do you see formula one sort of talking and aston martin in particular talking a language between the road car between the racing car yeah absolutely you’re absolutely right i mean road car designers uh and engineers have different parameters when they’re designing and some of those definitely apply to uh to this you know we’ve had a brand new driver join us this year four-time world champion seb vettel and something we never thought of in the past was the fact that when he was at ferrari they would have the road car ergonomics designers look at his seat position what the steering wheel’s like the touch and feel the wheel how he can manipulate the different buttons the look of it so he doesn’t confuse himself from one button to the other and now that we have a relationship with aston martin the same will happen with us we will get some of the ergonomics engineers to look at how they can help us and vice versa i’m sure there are technological areas where we can help aston martin road cars and the beauty of the aston martin road cars are they’re all performant cars it’s not like being at a a ford or a chrysler where you have minivans as well as you know they’re all performing cars so the synergy is much much closer yeah and just finally it’s a big car the formula one car what sort of dimensions are we talking here 5.6 meters overall length and uh 3.7 meters of wheelbase yeah it’s a big car but you know once again um it’s all driven by performance in terms of performance what does a longer wheelbase give you because obviously less maneuverability in tight corners i guess but it’s just yeah but better better stability in others uh better aerodynamic stability and uh yeah it’s all about getting a a good balance between the front and the rear of the car and it helps in that too yeah and what’s the overall weight of the car now so the the overall weight has uh has just gone up with driver it’s uh 752 kilograms so it’s still quite a light car just a big car it’s it’s a big car uh very lightweight when compared to road cars absolutely not so light when you compare to formula one cars in in the recent past it seems like the weights always going up but uh for understandable reasons you know the the halos added a significant amount of weight and up high safety absolutely paramount in this but yeah for sure there is a lot of technology transfer from racing from formula one into road cars not all road cars but this roof car so that’s the f1 car considerably bigger several hundred kilos lighter and with half the cylinders so not that similar but from what artmar says when it comes to technology and material transfer plus aerodynamic know-how and f1 thinking these two are peas in a pod time to take that up with the chief engineer of the valkyrie fraser dunn so fraser omar has talked me through the formula one car and some tech transfers materials transfer into the road car but when i look across at it what it looks like to me is that the top surface is what i understand as a more car designed surface and the bottom surface looks like that’s what i understand is formula one would that be roughly right yes almost exactly right so um obviously the start of pretty much any car program a road car program is the definition of the surfaces the lower half of the car that was kind of adrian newey’s domain and that’s where it was all driven by the aerodynamics of the car and all the the upper surfaces were pretty much defined by the aston martin design studio there is essentially a kind of a below the line is adrian above the line is aston martin’s styling obviously there is some interaction between the two and the the upper and the lower have to work together right okay and obviously adrian newey no longer involved in the car correct i assume the car had got to a certain level before the split out between red bull and aston came about yes completely i mean pretty much all the surfaces that have defined the kind of the aerodynamic performance of the car are adrian’s uh surfaces so it’s very little has really changed since since adrian’s involvement so and what was it like the first time you had to sort of go out and get in it and drive it when you first get in one of these it actually is quite a kind of a terrifying situation to find yourself because you think it’s going to be a scary car to drive but literally as soon as you start kind of getting used to it it’s actually a very intuitive and very easy car to drive and what about when you start going a bit quicker in it um it stays the same i mean ultimately we’re slowly turning on all the active systems on the car which it heavily relies on to give it its level of stability that it will eventually have when it’s fully tuned but even as a fully passive car so none of the active working the car is still very easy to drive so right i’ll take your word for it for the time because it just looks borderline terrifying to me right let’s go and have a look at the detail of it we’ll start at the obvious place the front it looks to me like you’ve got an enormous amount of air capacity going straight in the front but that top layer looks like a really thin layer if you actually compared the two cars if you were to take all the kind of the the kind of the green colored panels off that you see here you have the same nose box that you’d have on a formula one car and you’ve got the kind of the wing hung off the underside of the the nose box so the the whole kind of premise of the car is formula one aerodynamics so you need the wheel arches and you need somewhere to hang your headlights and everything and that kind of defines it as a road car but ultimately a load of the features so these cutouts here by where all the wishbones are and everything that is all a part of the aero strategy of pressure relief and getting air back up on top and this whole area here is about energizing the back end of the car and charging off towards the rear wheel and then obviously mediated between adrian and aston martin’s styling department so that they were happy he was happy with the aero a bit of conflict was that more of a battle was that a conflict and i think i think both sides would probably always see it as a kind of a positive thing because you kind of need that kind of to and fro to end up with something that works yeah and your job in that is sort of mediating to a point yeah yeah definitely exactly and just looking up the bonnet can you run with a with a vertical windscreen wiper like that um yes totally so we’ve um that that is the nominal position in the vehicle settings you can actually set it to one side or the other but in in the kind of the purest form obviously it looks a bit like an lmp car but also from the point of view of aerodynamics if you have it dressed one side or the other it will actually affect the airflow around the car not to a point that you’d actually have any issues but it’s just not the right way to be if you if you’ve got a car that’s designed around an aerodynamic ideal did you have to make that a bespoke part or have you managed to get that off the shelf from somewhere oh no that is that that wiper is completely bespoke we actually used a a supplier who um their other customer is nasa so um yeah they is the first time they they kind of we got into kind of talking about volumes and they said oh right okay well 150 is bigger than what we normally make we’re normally in in the kind of the realms of 10 parts so really so windscreen wipers for space shuttles well no they do they do all sorts of other stuff but it’s kind of yeah aerospace so wow if we look at the front wheel for instance you’ve got the brake caliper but you’ve also got what looks like a carbon frame running in there as well what’s that about even on on normal supercars you have kind of a relatively kind of uh passive air cooling so you’ll probably have up sweeps or veins that will throw the air in the general direction of the stuff that gets hot i.e the both the disc and the caliper on this car if you were to look fully inside the wheel you’ve actually got a a duct on the inside disc of the wheel like a formula one car which then forces air and then that instead of it just blowing into the wheel every single piece of air has its own vein within that duct which is either going directly to the the center of the disc going to the um the caliper and it cools all the bits at source um so it’s as efficient as possible but then on top of that all the air instead of them blowing out the front of the wheel it’s all scavenged out the inside of the wheel which means that the the air going down the car is clean because you don’t end up with a big wake coming out the front wheel and carbon carbon brakes are they it’s called ccmr it’s a constant strand ceramic composite disc it’s the kind of the latest and greatest it gives you relatively good cold performance it also gives you the refinement that you need in a road car but at the same time gives you the high performance yeah and what temperature do they like running out well that’s the beauty of these these these will be fine at kind of at room temperature they will give you that initial bite where they actually start really working is is 600 up so and what sort of breaking force can you can you generate so the moment we’re still in in the kind of development phase on on working up to kind of ultimate performance and we haven’t actually fully started resting on the brakes to be fair and actually getting those numbers because we’re looking more at the dynamic stuff at the moment from simulation the the arrow that the car makes and therefore how hard we’re pushing it into the ground and what the brakes are capable of it should be breaking around 4g 4g wow and you can pull what three through corners is that no it’s over two over two okay huge g-forces sophisticated brake ducts a teardrop shaped passenger compartment and aerodynamics that guide every molecule of air along specific channels to enhance performance okay this is starting to sound quite a lot like an f1 car right let’s have a look further down the car and the first thing i’ve noticed is obviously you’ve got cameras mirrors on the side are they exactly as they’re going to be yup and are they going to move in and out or they just that is them in their fixed positions so um it’s it’s kind of the latest technology of kind of camera systems so it’s actually got a kind of a mechanical iris part of the reason that they’ve ended up on the car is due to again pushing for the maximum of kind of aero performance on the car so that the benefit it gives you is that you don’t end up with a load of turbulent flow down the side of the car and you’ve got it as small as possible the problem you’ve got with a road car over a formula one car is that within road cars you have a minimum mirrors head size we can replicate that inside the cabin but if you put that on the outside of the car it would have ruined adrian’s arrow so on then a much bigger bit of aero just below it you’ve got the barge board here i’m going to refer to it as a barge ball because that’s what i know them as on formula one cars do you call them the same thing um well only because they’re only ever normally seen on formula one cars and they call barge ball so yeah we ended up calling it the same thing yeah how does the air work in that area well essentially it’s if you imagine we’re trying to create a tunnel that then comes round and then feeds around the back of here and it also sets off with these these vortex generators here on the floor and the vortex generates i’m right in thinking turn the air inwards back inside the rear wheel so they’re designed to sort of create a pressure wave pushing the air back in which is exactly the same as on the formula one car isn’t it so the whole the whole kind of purpose of all the details on the floor is to to to make the diffuser work as as powerfully as possible diffuser how much downforce is the diffuser generating for you well it’s not just i mean obviously the the diffuser is part of the package so you need you need the whole car so for example the the diffuser wouldn’t be as powerful as it is if it wasn’t for the design of the front wing but the whole the whole car makes its own um weight and down force basically which is shocking yes most cars as soon as they start moving start getting lighter due to lift yeah whereas this thing when it’s making peak downforce it’s making its own weight again how much does it weight gonna have a snooze in this you’re right oh grand so if we come back and look at the rear diffuser it’s twice the size on here than it is on the formula one car is that just because you can yeah exactly that so ultimately the the restrictions that the fia put on formula one mean that they end up with a much smaller diffuser than they could if they were allowed so if they had their own way they would all look like a valkyrie essentially which is a bit mental yeah yeah but i guess as you as the car is here you’re generating a lot more downforce from your diffuser than you are from your wing correct yes that is the most powerful thing on the car obviously if you look at the size of the wing on the formula one car it’s much bigger and that would be obviously way more powerful than this but the the wing and the diffuser actually work together as well that’s another part of the whole thing because obviously that generates more pull on the underside of the car so that’s another um mechanism by which they make their smaller diffuser more powerful right i see and then i’d look at some of the details on this because obviously where you’ve got this i think i believe it’s the rear crash structure is it yes it looks exactly the same as you’ve got on the formula one card a carbon beam out the back of it yep i mean obviously there was there was a lot of formula one uh kind of engineering involvement on the program that this kind of arrived in the design and obviously you can’t you can’t end up with a big long bumper beam like you would on a normal car because of everything that we’re trying to achieve so we ended up with that and then we started kind of going through all the simulations and and you can get it through crash regulations and then you’ve got the exhaust exiting on top of it which again is a formula one thing you didn’t think about putting the exhaust in having like a blown diffuser it was discussed it was discussed early on um the only problem that we have is exactly the same issue that they had in formula one with blown diffusers which was literally after a two-hour race you’ve got to throw in the bin because you’ve burnt all the carbon so you know it is not a viable kind of proposition for a road cast but i assume you’ve got an enormous amount of heat being generated because you’ve got this panel on the back there which is not the prettiest panel at the moment i know it’s well yeah it’s a prototype version yeah but you’ve got a lot of heat so what have you had to do to like the rear wing in that area in order to allow it to cope with the heat so it comes down to materials so i’ve heard obviously i was explaining the transfer of material technologies and what have you the interesting thing is is that a lot of material technologies actually the godfather or sorry the grandfather a lot of this technology is actually aerospace some of the materials that we have in areas of the rear wing is essentially the the same stuff that they use in high temperature areas of fighter jets formula one cars nozzles of missiles so it’s it’s it’s kind of cutting edge material it’s been 26 years since the v12 competed in formula one so the engine link is tenuous at best but just look at what we have here a compact lightweight six and a half litre naturally aspirated v12 designed by cosworth developing a thousand horsepower and revving to over eleven thousand and it sounds well get a load of this what strikes me when i first look into it is the tightness of the packaging in there is astonishing what have you got going on where what’s going on up here so that’s uh what we call the bootstrap reservoir so that’s part of the hydraulic system so one hydraulic system runs all of the all the systems on the car yes exactly and that’s so it’s active aero the active suspension and also the the gearbox controls so when it changes gear it uses that system with with both the the shift and also the clutch actuation and where does the air cut so the air comes in down here for the for the engine for the cooling cooling yeah cooling comes in on those intakes on the side though and then the radiators sit here on both sides of the car and then that literally blows through a void which is closed by this panel and the underside of the floor and then literally all the cooling air comes out of these two holes either side engine air comes in on top up here yep exactly like you would have on a formula one car and down through yes so this this is essentially your air filter it doesn’t look like a normal air filter no this is a complete again it’s kind of pushing the boundaries on things but when you’re driving the car in the rain you’ll end up with a load of water coming down there and it’s going to end up on your filter so this is actually a hydrophobic film that is also a filter so any water lands on here and then drains down that hole there so that that is literally that little membrane is all the air filter you’ve got for the engine correct oh that’s quite trick isn’t it and the water all runs off in there the air goes into the engine goes bang generates a lot of power simple and where does your hybrid system sit does it sit between engine and gearbox the battery um lives pretty much just behind the seats kind of lives with the fuel tank the motor sits in between the engine and the gearbox it’s not a hybrid system like the formula one cars is a hybrid system the the way that we’re actually deploying power is very much similar to what they use on a formula so how are you using the power so obviously we the car has no reverse gear that is is provided by the the e-motor pull away or kind of just the initial pull away to give you the hygiene factor is is by the e-motor but we also use the e-motor for uh the actual gear shift but the thing that’s similar is the the car essentially has a an ers button in the car so when you want another 150 horsepower above the 1000 that you’ve already got you just hit the button you’re off right then the final area we need to take a look at is the cabin one leg two leg it’s a long way down but my feet aren’t going down my feet are staying really high let’s just pull that down get the full experience that’s all right right steering wheel i’ve gotten caught on cables this is um quite interesting and very cool you can hold the steering wheel at any angle you can put it on like that and then you turn it to there and it’s locked on properly really nice and simple it feels like being in an lmp car it doesn’t feel like a road car at all your feet are really high and you’ve just got your backside really low and then you’re looking out and i’ve got this really long windscreen that sort of tucks away from me very high wheel arches either side so it feels really restrictive you’ve got the screens here for the mirrors and this screen which is actually going to be up on the roof for the production cars and i should explain actually that the reason there’s a lot of cables and kill switches and all the rest of it in there in here is that this is a development car it’s the one that’s done a load of mars it looks very pretty outside in here it’s full of data loggers steering wheel is mostly intuitive actually you’ve got all sort of regular buttons for nose lift and launch control and so on to switch on the ignition you push this button here the lights come on the screen lights up and the most important bit the rev counter doesn’t redline till eleven thousand these paddles which have a fantastic action do actually come from an f1 car they won’t tell me which one however but the overall experience of being in here is you’re just aware of of the whole thing feeling like you’re in the nose cone of something you know the way these sides come in so when you’ve got a passenger in here and you’re both crammed in and you’ve got no sort of binocular area between you it’s going to be really tight it feels fantastic and different but can’t really see much places to store wallets and phones and keys at the moment right fraser’s gone opmah’s gone as well there’s a formula one car over there i think i’m gonna have to see if i can have a sit in that f1 baby oh better take the steering wheel off i hope yeah it works like a normal one let’s put that up there very carefully right what do we think that looks all right i’m not sure i’m gonna fit through this once you’re in you’re in right let’s get the steering wheel on it feed it through the halo i hope it works just like a normal one let’s see if this pushes on not easy to line up there we go wow i mean sitting in an f1 car it’s really cool i mean the halo doesn’t really get in the way too much i’m amazed by what if this little piece of perspex is it’s all jagged must be something to do with breaking up the airflow and then the steering wheel you just you just don’t know where to begin with the steering wheel but the driving position it’s quite a lot like the valkyrie i mean i think i’ve got more elbow room in here than i had in that i mean what it must feel like trying to go fast and i have no idea and i will never have any idea because i’ll never drive one of these that though i know it’s been delayed i know it’s been delayed for quite a long time but we’ll be driving it this august and that is something to be really excited about you