In 2017, Mercedes’ AMG performance division first revealed art and preliminary specs for the Project One, a batshit merger of a street legal hypercar with an F1 engine. The ludicrous concept is not only really in the works, but quite possibly entering production this year.
The news comes from a new Autoweek interview with Mercedes-AMG chief technical officer Jochen Hermann who revealed, “We’re fighting for the start of production in this year.”
As reported in 2017, the now-named Mercedes-AMG One runs the same 1.6-liter V6 hybrid found between the axles in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 cars driven by reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and his departing teammate, Valtteri Bottas.
The highly complex powerplant is comprised of a turbocharged combustion engine and four independent electric motors: one for each front wheel, one linked to the crankcase, and one in the turbocharger itself. Over 1,000 horsepower will push the AMG One to 124 mph in under six seconds on the way to a top end of 217 mph.
Making an F1-based road car is obviously a massive undertaking. For starters, race engines idle at 4,000 or even 5,000 RPM. But as Road and Track previously reported, that’s far too high to pass emissions testing.
The AMG One’s engine had to be brought down to 1,200 RPM, which easier said than done. Crash and drive-by noise tests also had to be taken into consideration. Then there’s a the problem of imitating the real-time adjustments made by engineers before and during a race with software.
“It was striking to me when I visited the Formula 1 team last November, standing next to Lewis (Hamilton’s) car, and when he is coming out, there were like 10 or 12 people coming out who all ran to the car, everybody’s opening something, puts a screw driver in, puts a laptop to the car, before you can actually start the car,” Hermann explained.
“You turn the key and people expect the car to start. So we had to put software for (the equivalent of) 10 or 12 race engineers into the coding. I think that was something that was really underestimated.”
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is capturing the feel of an F1 car. So few people have even seen the inside of a cockpit, let alone piloted one with expertise. But when retired F1 veteran David Coulthard brought years of experience competing at the pinnacle of motorsport to an AMG One test drive, it’s creators’ efforts were vindicated.
“[David] got out of the car and he said, “Can you see that tear in my eye?” And I said, “Well, you know, he’s a nice guy making jokes all the time.” And he said, “No, no, literally, you guys made me 12 years younger. This feels like my Formula 1 car! The sound, vibration, everything.”
Only 275 examples of the AMG One will be sold for $2.7 million each. And when they’re gone, they’re gone.
“We are very sure, at least I can say for AMG, we will never do it again,” Hermann said. “And I’m confident that no one else will do it.”