Eventually, most of Aston's models will have F1-derived technology.
Aston Martin has announced that the Valhalla supercar will benefit significantly from the assistance of the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 team (AMF1). At the core of this partnership between the road-legal vehicles and its most hardcore racers is the consulting arm of the F1 team, Aston Martin Performance Technologies (AMPT)
AMPT is located at the brand-new state-of-the-art Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team Technology Campus, built right next to the famous Silverstone track in the UK. This next-level facility is obviously equipped with all the latest technology. Still, Aston says the Valhalla will benefit from the F1 team's experience in three key areas: Dynamics, aerodynamics, and materials.
AMF1's race-proven methodologies, expertise, and technologies will also be used to develop future models, of which there will be many.
While the Valhalla may be Aston Martin's first series production mid-engine supercar, cross-pollination between brands and their F1 teams is hardly a new concept. The Aston Martin Valkyrie was designed by Adrian Newey of Red Bull when Aston was still partnered with the Flying Bulls, and Mercedes-AMG actually built a car powered by an F1 engine, while multiple road cars have benefited from simple branding exercises.
Aston Martin is taking a new approach, however, and the continued support from AMPT will have a drastic impact on Valhalla and all future products.
We all know Aston Martin knows how to make a luxury grand tourer, but its sports and supercar efforts have yet to earn the same sort of reputation as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche.
Naturally, AMF1 will use its drivers to help develop its cars. Aston's press release states that Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll will add a "new intensity to the calibration of the car." But F1 drivers being involved in car development dates back a few decades.
The F1 team's involvement stretches far beyond strapping Fernando Alonso into the seat and sending him around Silverstone. Aston Martin has revealed that 90% of the Valhalla's dynamic characteristics and vehicle set-up was done digitally on the F1 team's driving simulator. Only the final development phase will be completed in the real world, on the road and track. Now, these aren't your run-of-the-mill driving simulators you can purchase online. They're accurate enough to predict a lap time around a circuit, which is how Daniel Ricciardo got his job back earlier this year.
In addition to driver input and access to the simulator, AMPT has also lent a helping hand in the cockpit ergonomic department. The seating position has been optimized to provide race car levels of control. The Valhalla has a false floor underneath the driver's heels to raise the position of their feet. The bucket seat can also be reclined to a greater angle to get a position similar to the AMR23 race car.
This is beneficial for two reasons. First, Aston Martin can keep the roofline as low as possible, benefiting packaging and aerodynamics, and second, it increases driver engagement.
If you've ever seen the seating position in an F1 car, you'll know that the drivers do their job almost lying down. In addition to placing your body perfectly to cope with the additional G forces, this driving position exposes more of your body to the car, which means you'll feel more. According to Ferrari, touch is one of the most important interactions between man and car, so it's working on a patent to give your butt more feedback. Aston is taking this concept to an entirely new level.
We're now in the era of the turbo-hybrid ground-effect Formula 1 car, and so far, four manufacturers have nailed the brief: Red Bull and Aston Martin among them. Not only can Aston draw on this, but on the Adrian Newey Valkyrie design that, according to Aston engineers, "looks like an F1 car from below."
Aston says a "quick look at the underbody of the AMR23 and the underbody of Valhalla, where most of its downforce is generated, illustrates how much F1 technology has gone into the new supercar." Aston Martin didn't share images of the floor for obvious reasons, but it's clear there's a sharing of philosophy between the two cars.
The most important aerodynamic design ethos Aston Martin is implementing is to look at every part of the exterior as a possible element that can create downforce and minimize drag.
The Valhalla is lucky that its exterior is not as heavily regulated as an F1 car's. That means it can have fully active trick aerodynamic features, which results in 1,323 pounds of downforce at 150 mph. And that's without sticking an obnoxiously large rear wing on the back. The Valhalla can also constantly balance the amount of grip front to rear or reduce it as much as possible for a top-speed run.
The Valhalla also has a DRS-like hidden front wing, which can either reduce drag in an open position or generate downforce directly ahead of the front wheels. The rear wing's angle can also be adjusted, depending on what the driver wants the car to do. It's also equipped with mini diffusers ahead of the rear wheels, meant to pull even more air from underneath the car, sucking it down even more.
Perhaps most important of all is having access to the minds and tools of the AMF1 team. The Valhalla was designed using the same Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel testing available to the F1 team.
Aston Martin has been using carbon fiber for many years, so they can learn nothing from the F1 team, right? The 999 Valhallas that will be built will use a carbon fiber monocoque, which is also not a new concept. But AMF1 can teach the road car department a lot about safety. Access to the F1 team's hardware and software means Aston Martin can identify vulnerabilities before the inevitable homologation crash tests. Aston claims the Valhalla will have best-in-class dynamic and structural attributes and outstanding safety.
The monocoque, designed and engineered by AMPT, will be super strong thanks to upper and lower sections molded from carbon fiber made via proprietary technology using resin-transfer-molding (RTM) and F1-derived autoclave tech.
While the Valhalla was originally slated to use an in-house-developed V6, ex-boss Tobias Moers vetoed that in favor of an AMG-sourced V8. But since the man who designed the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 now works for Aston, he could perfect his creation, and the flat-plane V8 is now claimed to be the most advanced and highest-performing V8 ever fitted to an Aston Martin.
Like an F1 car, electric motors feature, with three e-motors aiding the powertrain in creating 998 horsepower.
Unlike an F1 car, however, the Valhalla is all-wheel drive, with two electric motors providing active torque vectoring on the front axle.
The first Valhalla prototype will hit the road later this year, and the car will enter production in 2024. That's the first indication of how much AMF1 has helped the Valhalla because we usually spot prototype cars at least two to three years before a car actually enters production. Since most of the development was done in the simulator, the Valhalla can get to its lucky owners much sooner.
"The knowledge and experience of the AMF1 team personnel at Aston Martin Performance Technologies combined with the skills and know-how of our road car development teams has enabled us to bring direct F1 learnings to sports car development," said Carlo Della Casa, Aston Martin Product Development Director. "Our target for Valhalla is to produce a supercar that will set best-in-class standards for performance, dynamics, and driving pleasure. Valhalla will use active technologies to reduce the gap between the 'Gentlemen driver' and the professional one on track. Having open access to the knowledge within the AMF1 team has been a huge advantage for us as we develop this incredible car."