Red Bull RB17 will be a natural rival for Aston Martin Valkyrie, AMG One and GMA T50
Adrian Newey follows up Aston Martin Valkyrie with jaw-dropping, £5m V8 hybrid to be built by Red Bull
Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT) is in the advanced stages of developing a mild-hybrid 1250bhp V8 hypercar due for delivery in 2025, as detailed to Autocar by Christian Horner, CEO of Red Bull Racing and its Advanced Technologies offshoot.
The car has been designed with a minimum of compromises and is aimed primarily at track-day applications, but Horner said the closed-roof vehicle – rendered here by Autocar using a silhouette sketch supplied by the firm – could be made road legal should owners wish to convert them to meet local traffic regulations.
A limited production run of 50 units, built at the rate of 15 per year, is planned. Most of them are already spoken for.
Horner described the vehicle as “Adrian Newey unleashed”, adding that the Formula 1 superstar designer had long wished to build a car unfettered by sporting regulations or road car legislation, hence RBAT’s latest in-house project, initially codenamed ‘Eta’.
The car is formally known as RB17 – a tag that fills a gap in Red Bull’s F1 car naming strategy after that number was skipped due to changes to regulations under Covid, with RB16B, which Max Verstappen drove to last year’s drivers’ title, an evolution of the 2020 car, and RB18 this season’s car.
The RB17 is a natural progression from the Newey-designed road-going Aston Martin Valkyrie, currently in the early stages of delivery to customers after a lengthy gestation.
Asked how the RB17 came about, Horner told Autocar: “Adrian wanted to do a car [for us] back in 2014, and at that point in time, we found a route through that by doing all the design work for the Valkyrie in partnership with Aston Martin.
“Valkyrie is a stunning vehicle and I’m sure it will be a great success, but you’re always learning, whether in Formula 1 or on the advanced technologies side.
“[RBAT] has now existed for close to eight years and there’s an awful lot of knowledge that has been built up in that time. With the budget cap era [in F1], if you want to retain resources there have to be projects that can justify their existence. This is a perfect project utilising the skill sets that we have, so it will complement our Formula 1 activities rather than distract from them.”
According to RBAT technical director Rob Gray, the hypercar will be predominantly manufactured in-house, with items such as glass and gear clusters outsourced.
Gray said: “There’s a lot in common between this car and the Formula 1 car in terms of the general engineering principles used to design it. Most of this car, the core, we are capable of building in-house. That’s why we have such a low volume target.
“We know how to build low-volume vehicles. We don’t want to do mass production.”
Gray added that the hybrid unit’s power contribution will be “significant”, indicating that regenerated energy will run to around 150bhp. “We want to use the hybrid to complement the internal combustion engine, rather than dominate it.”
Horner said: “It will sound fantastic, like a track car should.” He declined to reveal powertrain details but said the power unit will be produced to “our specification by a third party”, not by the nascent Red Bull Powertrains division, currently gearing up for a post-2025 F1 power unit.
Asked if the RB17 was the first step towards Red Bull becoming a fully fledged road car manufacturer, Horner said: “It’s the start of a journey. It’s an interesting starting point for us. You can never say ‘never’, but certainly this is a halo project for us.”
As the most innovative F1 designer of his generation – one with 10 constructor championship titles across three teams to his name – Newey introduced various novelties to the sport.
Asked if the RB17 will feature Newey specialities such as a ‘blown diffuser’, Gray said: “We internally sometimes refer to [the RB17] as ‘Adrian’s greatest hits’. There’s a lot of things that people will recognise… He’s constantly innovated on [this] vehicle and he’s involved in pretty much every aspect of design and engineering.
“Everyone looks at Adrian as an aerodynamicist by trade, but he’s also involved in everything from wheels, tyres, suspension, brakes, all the way through to engine.”
In a subsequent interview Newey expanded on the list, telling Autocar, “It will be a skirted car, so flexible skirts – because we can – and clearly large ground effect tunnels, active suspension as it could be driven on circuits that aren’t as smooth as [F1 tracks] and we’re trying to avoid having very stiff suspension.“It will also have exhaust blowing, all the tricks that we’ve learned [in F1], in other words.”
Newey further clarified that the power unit will be twin-turbo V8, with the energy recovery system primarily providing a torque “fill” and reducing throttle lag under acceleration.
“[ERS] also helps in other areas, which I don’t really want to go into at the moment,” he smiled enigmatically.
Newey said the power unit will be a twin-turbo V8, with the energy recovery system (ERS) primarily providing torque fill and reducing throttle lag under acceleration. “[ERS] also helps in other areas, which I don’t really want to go into at the moment,” he said, smiling.
Horner estimates that the car will cost around £5 million plus applicable taxes.
When F1 winners spawn hypercars
Rory Byrne, the engineer behind seven constructor titles, provided aerodynamic, composites and packaging expertise for the 950bhp Ferrari LaFerrari hybrid. Some 710 were built between 2013 and 2016.
Newey’s first hypercar effort was the 1160bhp Aston Martin Valkyrie, above, now being delivered. But the road version was ultimately too sanitised for his liking, hence the RB17. What next?