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2019 Mercedes-AMG Project One - full details on the F1-engined hypercar

evo staff
1 Dec 2017

With a Formula 1 engine, is the Mercedes-AMG Project One set to become the new performance pinnacle?

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The Mercedes-AMG Project One that was unveiled earlier this year at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show is, in essence, a Formula 1 car modified for the road. The next-generation hypercar is due in 2019 with a price-tag of around £2m.

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.

 > Click here for our favourite cars from the 2017 Frankfurt motor show

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.

Drivetrain

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.

> Read about the Aston Martin-Red Bull 001 hypercar

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.

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 told our sister title Auto Express Mercedes-AMG would make 'Between 200 to 300' - a number that Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers has now revealed to be 275 units (see below). 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.

Tobias Moers opens up on the Project One in Geneva

Alongside the launch of the GT Concept, evo quizzed Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers on the other car we're awaiting with bated breath – the Project One hypercar.

Where does Project One sit in Mercedes-AMG's hybrid future?

'The idea of this hypercar is to give a totally different understanding of performance from anything else on the market. I’m hoping the car will open the door to discussion about the future, including for us. It’s different to anything else – on a technology and engineering level more challenging than anything I’ve done, the peak of technology today on the road.

'We have an F1 engine that is used to idling at 4500rpm, now idling at 1100rpm; it still revs to 11,000rpm in the road car. It is still a 1.6-litre F1 engine, with the original crankcase and cylinder heads. We have to change the injectors, and reduce the compression ratio a little, but that’s it. You don’t need an F1 team to get the car started: you hit the button and it fires up, on 98 octane – or maybe 95.'

How is the project progressing?

'We have a combined team with Brixworth [Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains], as we have a lot of experience on the emissions and OBD side. We’ve also just invested in a new [test] bench, and will run the first things there at the end of March. We’ve learned a lot as well! So far I’ve only driven it on the simulator – on the Nordschleife – but we’re going to be on the road with the car by October.'

Where do you see Project One in relation to its rivals?

'What is the benchmark for this segment? There is no benchmark. The Red Bull car is a totally different approach to us: it’s still a V12. Having unbelievable levels of downforce is good, but the trade-off with the tyres is you lose mechanical grip in slower corners as you have to make the tyres strong enough to take the high loads. The opportunity for us, and the only reason we have the Project One, is the chance to have a street-legal F1 powertrain.

'I wouldn’t do it with a V8 or V12: we could do it – call it "old school" –  but for us to define the future with it would not be feasible. Having the most efficient powertrain was the key for me calling Andy [Cowell – MD at Brixworth] and asking him [if it was possible] before I brought the idea to the board. The board has confidence in Andy and I, so we got the sign off. We are close now to four digits for prospects and only 275 cars – our customers want something special, they want new technology.'

Tobias Moers was speaking to Adam Towler

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