Aston Martin dives deeper into Valkyrie
Aston Martin's upcoming Valkyrie hypercar has been hotly anticipated ever since rumours began to make the rounds of its existence. Now the company has delved into the secrets of its design a little bit more.
Valkyrie is a car designed from the out to provide the maximum in every area (except perhaps passenger comfort). According to a recent interview with Adrian Newey by Top Gear, the powerplant of Valkyrie is a 6.5-litre naturally aspiratedV12 loosely based on an old F1 design by Cosworth making somwhere around 745kW according to reports. That's before the electric motors are taken into account.
If you needed anything more to whet your appetite, Newey said that it will use a twelve-into-one exhaust system to make the engine sound like it's "revving twice as high than it actually is." It redlines at 11,000RPM.
The gearbox is also totally bespoke, designed by Newey himself. It will be built by the same folk who do the double-clutch unit for Bugatti, but have no reverse gear. Instead it will back up under electric power.
As for the immediate competition - LaFerrari, Porsche 918, McLaren P1? Newey says they are "big, clumsy and heavy." Ouch. Guess Valkyrie is going to be light and nimble, then. Apparently it will only weigh 1,000kg, so that won't be far off. Everything is still in development, so no solid numbers are being given out.
Aston also divulged a little bit about the interior and exterior design. The teardrop-shaped cockpit’s upper body surfaces and lower tub contours follow the envelope of space available between the huge full length Venturi tunnels that run either side of the cockpit floor. Drawing huge quantities of air beneath the car to feed the rear diffuser, these tunnels are the key to generating the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s extraordinary levels of downforce while keeping the upper body surfaces free from additional aerodynamic devices that would spoil the purity of the styling.
To maximise interior space the seats are mounted directly to the tub, with occupants adopting a reclined ‘feet-up’ position reminiscent of today’s Formula One and Le Mans Prototype race cars, ensuring driver and passenger are extremely safe, perfectly supported and feel completely at one with the car. A four-point harness comes as standard, while an optional six-point harness will be offered for those who intend to do more track driving.
Matt Hill, Aston Martin Creative Director of Interiors said of the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s cockpit design: “It’s been a tremendous challenge to make the interior packaging work. We’ve embraced Red Bull Racing’s Formula One ethos and approached from a different angle than conventional road car design. In this instance, we’ve started from a position where you think something is impossible and work at it until you find a way to make it work. We’ve been fighting for millimetres everywhere, but the battle has been worth it, as it’s been fantastic seeing customers try the interior buck for size. They love the ritual of getting in and how it feels to be sat behind the wheel. They’re also genuinely surprised at how the car just seems to swallow them. You really do have to sit in it to believe there is genuine space for two large adults.”
While aerodynamics and downforce are the dominant story, Aston Martin Valkyrie features some delightful details. Some of the most striking are the headlights, which take inspiration from the pure functionality of a Formula One car’s components. Aston Martin’s designers stripped things back to the bare essentials, celebrating the engineering rather than concealing it behind cladding. With the low and high beam elements attached to an intricate exposed anodised aluminium frame not only are the headlamp units a work of art, but they are 30-40 per cent lighter than the lightest series production headlamps available to Aston Martin.
The same approach has been taken with the Aston Martin ‘wings’ badge that adorns the nose. With the regular badge considered too heavy, and a simple sticker not befitting for a car of the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s quality and cutting-edge nature, the Aston Martin Design Team came up with a chemical etched aluminium badge just 70 microns thick. That’s 30 per cent thinner than a human hair, and a remarkable 99.4 per cent lighter than the regular enamel wings badge. The badge (nicknamed the ‘lacewing’) is then attached to the painted body and covered with a perfectly smooth coat of lacquer.
Aston Martin Creative Director of Exterior Design, Miles Nurnberger, said of the Aston martin Valkyrie’s design evolution: “I would say we’re around 95 per cent of the way there with the exterior design. Much of what you see is actually the structure of the car, so this had to be signed-off relatively early in the project. The remaining areas of non-structural bodywork are still subject to evolution and change as Adrian [Newey] continues to explore way of finding more downforce. The new outlets in the body are a case in point. Ordinarily the last thing we’d want to do to one of our surfaces is cut a hole in it, but these vents work the front wings so much harder that they’ve found a significant gain in front downforce. The fact that they are so effective gives them their own functional beauty, but we’ve finessed them without impacting on their functionality. That they also serve as windows through which to view the fabulous wing section front wishbones is a welcome bonus!”
In that Top Gear interview, Newey said that: “If it’s simply a racing car on the road and feels as such, I’d view that as a failure.”
Valkyrie looks like it's going to be the new benchmark, something we would dearly welcome from the Aston Martin brand. They've had such success in the typical road car market with the DB series and so on, that it makes sense to expand into the hypercar realm.
The car won't be ready for proper testing further toward 2018, so there's still a bit of waiting to go. It sounds like it's going to be worth it, though.