There are supercar reveals, and then there are moments like this: Mercedes-AMG’s Formula One car for the road. You’re looking at the Project One, complete with its Lewis Hamilton-approved V6 turbo hybrid F1 engine. This is AMG’s attempt to blow the hypercar competition to pieces. Are you watching, Holy Trinity?
Numbers first. Mercedes’ official stats on the Project One are noticeably ambiguous. It’s confirmed the engine is indeed a 1.6-litre that happily revs to 11,000rpm (stunted from the F1 car’s 15k redline for servicing and usability reasons). But in terms of power, we’re merely told the total output from the hybrid set-up exceeds 1000bhp, while the top speed is ‘beyond 350kph
AMG’s still playing its hand close to its chest. Mind you, this is still the Frankfurt ‘show car’. AMG continues to hone this thing behind the scenes. Yet it’s still confident enough to claim the Project One will launch from 0-200kph in under six seconds. A Bugatti Chiron conservatively claims 6.5 seconds. Insert your chosen expletive here.
The Project One must be among the most challenging car set-up exercises ever undertaken. The turbocharged V6 engine itself has an electric motor built into its turbocharger for eliminating turbo lag, while another 120kW e-motor works on the crankshaft. Then another two 50,000rpm, 120kW electric motors independently drive each of the front wheels, allowing torque-vectoring, lightning-quick launches. Those front motors also allow a zero-emission EV mode, during which your AMG hypercar becomes front-wheel drive (like the EV mode in a BMW i8).
Engage the engine and drive is shuffled through an eight-speed automated manual gearbox with paddles on the F1-style steering wheel. Inside, AMG promises we’ll find find two seats, much carbon, a couple of ten-inch screens for data and mode readouts, and not a great deal else. There’s no back window, for instance.
AMG says the turbo V6 engine has superior throttle response to a naturally aspirated V8, because the turbo’s exhaust gas and compressor turbines work on the F1-type energy system called Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H). That’s the fourth electric machine on the car. When the engine isn’t at full power, the turbo drives a generator mounted on the turbo’s shaft. Floor the throttle and the generator reverses into a motor, spinning up the turbo for instant response.
Stamp on the carbon brakes and AMG reckons 80 per cent of the force can be entrusted to power recuperation, juicing the battery for the next straight. It’s this ultra-efficient = hyper fast philosophy that’s put AMG unassailably ahead in Formula One since the sport went turbo-hybrid in 2014. And now it’s in a road car. Gulp.
The batteries themselves and their cooling system are identical to Lewis and Valtteri’s weekend mount. They live behind the front axle for optimal weight balance, and run a heady 800V system, which allows half the current for the same power as the usual 400V, meaning they can use thinner cables, and a virtuous circle of weight-saving.
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