Thursday, September 14, 2017

Formula 1-Inspired Supercar Badness: The Mercedes-AMG Project ONE

Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz



Formula 1 aficionados in recent seasons have been witnessing a renaissance of the Silver Arrows in a manner not seen since the 1950s. Returning to the series as a constructor in 2010, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula 1 team hit a masterful stride in the prestigious open wheel racing tour in 2014 when a new series mandate for a hybrid gasoline/electric powerplant came to fruition. As of September 12th of 2017, the Mercedes-AMG team has taken victory in 60 of the 72 events since the current hybrid power unit specifications came into effect.

As is the case with any automaker who uses motorsports to define their brand, Mercedes-Benz’s performance division naturally wants to directly transfer success on the track to the street. A single-passenger, open-wheel race car designed to run a main feature race no longer than two hours is starkly different from a production vehicle seemingly limits the amount of technology that could be shared. Unveiled for the 2017 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz undertook one of the more aggressive efforts to transfer current Formula 1 technology to a street-legal car. Classified under Project ONE, a 217-mile per hour Mercedes-AMG supercar is engineered to provide a sense of performance reminiscent to what drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas experience.


Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz



Featuring an electric/gasoline plug-in hybrid system constructed within a two-passenger show car, the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE major hint at Formula 1 inspiration is its power. Matching the displacement size as the turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine used in the Mercedes-AMG W08 EQ Power+ race car competing on the 2017 grand prix circuit, a direct-injected V-6 powerplant is billed as a high-revving, advanced engine. Designed to reach 11,000 rpms, the turbocharged six-cylinder used in the Project ONE concept is paired with a quartet of electric motors. Two 120-kilowatt electric motors are located on the front axle while the other two are found linked to the engine’s crankshaft and the final 120-kilowatt attached to the turbocharger unit. Achieving a maximum system performance of 1,000 horsepower, the electric/gasoline hybrid system is designed to function in a highly efficient fashion. Operating with similar lithium-ion battery technology as the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 car, the component to the 800-volt EQ Power+ drive system touts improved everyday practicality and plug-in hybrid functionality. An electric-only driving range of 25 kilometers is also possible with the Project ONE show car.

The power unit for the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE insures fast and furious momentum for the hypercar through the use of a special 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system. Acceleration from 0 to 200 kilometers per hour is performed in roughly estimated pace of 6 seconds. Power delivery is managed through an automated 8-speed AMG Speedshift manual transmission.


Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz

 

The Frankfurt show car incorporates a color scheme similar to the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 race cars with silver and black accompanied by Petronas green paintbrush streaks along the sides. Like a Formula 1 car, carbon fiber construction is key to the composition of the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE. The lightweight monocoque is coupled with body panels conveying aerodynamic balance with a carefully-shaped front and rear as well as strength with large fenders. A two-section diffuser and grand prix car-inspired exhaust outlet is found at the rear. The front of the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE is defined by a sleek fascia comprised of massive air intakes and flat LED headlights. A large air scoop is also present on the roof serving as a functional intake as well as another grand prix car design trait.

Along with promoting Mercedes-Benz’s modern Formula 1 proficiency, this hypercar also serves as an anniversary marker for AMG. Originally operating outside of the German automaker, the entity now known as Mercedes-AMG was established in 1967 as a speed shop motivated in drawing race-bred performance touches from vehicles. AMG has been fully-integrated into Mercedes-Benz since 2005. The AMG nameplate is worn with as much prominence as Mercedes-Benz’s star badge on the front of the Project ONE.


Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz



Closer towards the ground, the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE concept car rides on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Forged aluminum 19-inch front wheels and 20-inch rear wheels include a carbon fiber semi-cover facilitating optimum airflow. Heavy-duty, high endurance AMG Carbon Ceramic braking is designed to perform under some of the most extreme driving conditions. Vehicle handling is accomplished mainly through an adjustable multi-link suspension system with a full array of electronic driving aids such as AMG’s three-stage ESP (Electronic Stability Program).

Billed as “Formula 1 for two” by Mercedes-Benz, the Project ONE show car two-seat interior is infused with functionality, technology and even practicality. Interior styling is refreshingly unique drawing some from the cockpit of an open-wheel racer. One most noticeable detail is the flowing seating positions where buckets are integrated into the vehicle’s monocoque in a supportive manner towards the occupants’ feet. Behind the seats, in-cabin storage compartments are suited for accommodating small items.


Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz



The wing-like dashboard design is actual a structural element inside the Project ONE hypercar concept. Visual readouts are located within a pair of 10-inch high-resolution displays with one located directly in front of the driver and the second within the center of the dash. A Formula 1-style steering wheel possesses a wide array of vehicle controls at the fingertips of the driver. Along with adjustments for the suspension and driving modes, a LED shift indicator incorporated on the steering wheel adds a dynamic sensation for the handler. Air conditioning, power windows and Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND infotainment system are all standard equipment on the Project ONE.

Premiering as a show car at the 2017 auto show in Frankfurt, the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE’s production reality appears to be somewhat possible if the German auto brand will want to sell a super-exotic, high-priced supercar. Mercedes-Benz has been more transparent in their intentions of transferring the technology of the Project ONE into future production cars.

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