Adrian Newey has opened up about the RB17 hypercar, and some of the planned innovations that will appear on it when it finally hits the road.
Red Bull’s chief technology officer explained that some of the biggest F1 innovations from his esteemed career will feature on the new car, with active suspension – a key feature of the title-winning Williams machines of the early 1990s – and a blown diffuser from his first title-winning Red Bulls will both be on the car.
When it all comes together, despite it being a two-seater and significantly heavier than an F1 car, Newey has set the highly ambitious target of reaching Formula 1 level lap times on this car.
Adrian Newey expands on ‘mind-blowing’ Red Bull RB17 innovations
Newey is working with many of the same team with which he designed the Aston Martin Valkyrie around a decade ago, and revealed that the naturally aspirated engine will rev all the way up to 15,000rpm, alongside a host of other features that will make it one of the fastest and most powerful cars ever built.
With the car still in development, Newey has enthused about the passion project that is taking up his other time away from the track.
“Yeah, very much so,” Newey told Red Bull’s in-house Talking Bull podcast when asked if the RB17 is being built with ‘emotion first’, despite its immense planned capabilities.
“The challenge we set us ourselves is that adaptability of the car. But then ultimately, the car, if driven by a professional driver, is capable of Formula 1 lap times.
“It’s kind of mind-blowing in a way that this car, which is a two-seater, can produce that sort of performance.
“And that’s really been achieved by the usual key parameters of focusing on weight, so it’ll be less than 900 kilos, so much lighter than any normal road car, or track car.
“But at the same time, it will have 1000 horsepower, V10, normally aspirated, so it’ll sound awesome – but we then have a 200 horsepower electric motor, and that fulfils a variety of functions.
“Obviously, it’s an extra 200 horsepower, but it also smooths out the torque, smooths out the gear change, provides reverse gear, first gear, you can move off the starting motor, all the usual sorts of multifunctions.
“It will have active suspension, which it needs to have because the downforce we’re producing to achieve those lap times is immense.
“As a number, the [weight] it produces downforce is capped at 1.7 tonnes. So downforce is capped at almost twice its weight, and that’s simply because otherwise then it overloads the tyres. But it actually gets to that figure at about 150 miles an hour, so after that it starts to bleed off. It can actually produce its own weight in downforce by 120 miles an hour.
“It’s incredibly aerodynamically efficient, and to achieve that we’ve pulled all the levers. So it has a blown diffuser, active suspension too which is multifunction.
“Again, the purpose of the active suspension, it’s to give a very stable aerodynamic platform whilst maintaining reasonably sensible spring rates, so that you don’t get thrown from bump to bump, not nearly as stiff as a current Formula 1 car or an LMP car.
“So [it’s] relatively compliant, and it also offers the ability to tune the car, both aerodynamically by adjusting the ride heights and also in terms of how you change what we call the mechanical balance, which is the balance of grip between the front axle and the rear axle.
“So you can, in that way, make it a car that as I mentioned earlier is suitable for a wide range of driver techniques, styles, abilities.”
A limited production run of 50 RB17 models are due to be put into place eventually, and when it was asked if that number was actually 49 in case Newey has already placed an order, he replied with a smile: “I may well do…”
And when jokingly asked about the subject of a staff discount, having designed the car himself, he added: “I have to negotiate on that one!”