Battle Royale: Aston Martin Valkyrie Vs Mercedes AMG Project ONE
The stage is set for the most advanced hypercar showdown ever but there's more at stake than just Top Trumps bragging rights.
The rule book has officially ripped to shreds, the die has been cast and the batteries have been charged. Two of the most prestigious and most powerful brands in the world have declared automotive war on each other.
Aston Martin and Mercedes have never been the type to revolutionise the industry, they leave that to the likes of VW and Bugatti, at different ends of the spectrum. This time however, they have stepped up to the mark and the results are extraordinary, possibly changing the way all cars are made and driven in the future.
The term 'supercar' is thrown about a lot but there is a different category: hypercar. For those who don't know, a hypercar is a the best of the best of supercars, take the Pagani Huayra and Ferrari La Ferrari as examples. If it were a monarchy the hypercars would be king but there is a problem within that; which one would take the crown? Aston Martin have a long history for being elite and generally a bit better than everything else, looking down their nose at Jaguar. This all seems very British and fits in perfectly with the royal analogy but even The Queen had a soft spot for Germans. Mercedes on the other hand has a total monopoly on the market from hatchbacks to Maybachs and they do it with such ease and finesse. No matter what you need there will be a Mercedes to match and they know just how to play the game. Surely that power, wealth and domination constitutes a king.
More than just pretty faces
Say Aston Martin to many millennials and they will think of Daniel Craig but Aston didn't always command cool, having humble beginnings in Newport Pagnell. They have made some of the most beautiful, beguiling cars of all time like the DBS, DB7, DB9, V8 Vantage and most recently the DB11. The David Brown marque was the epitome of class, style and quality. They made some howlers though, the Cygnet, DB5 (which was a bit crap as a car) and the original Lagonda (even though I liked the look of the Lagonda) were low points for the brand but they managed to bounce back. In racing they have a dismal record in Formula One but fared much better in Le Mans and have been on race track on and off for decades.
Mercedes-Benz is a juggernaut that can't be stopped. In the late 1800's Benz and Daimler essentially invented getting from A to B without Shergar in front of you. They have countless groundbreaking achievements under their belts, no one in their right mind can deny that. They are a bit more, for want of a better term, free and easy than Aston. They will try anything to sell units, they even made a car that resembled a fucking fish for christ sake! The 300SL Gullwing is absolutely breathtaking along with the special editions with Sterling Moss and McLaren. On the track they are the opposite of Aston, where they flipped to catastrophe in Le Mans they rose to the top in Formula One and are currently still there.
It's on the track where they do battle now.
Meet the family
The Pinnacle Of Motorsport
'F1 cars for the road', that's what every car magazine has been saying about this dynamic duo and they've hit the nail on the head. The racing influence is a lot more than just a promotional stunt to appeal to teenage boys around the globe, it's genuinely an innovation race to see who can bend the laws of physics and engineering first. Mercedes didn't have too far to go to find that competitive edge as they have their own team whereas Aston have had to find a willing partner. A chance meeting between Aston boss Andy Palmer and Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner spiralled into a blooming relationship. Horner needed to keep his Chief Technical Officer interested as the team were in a rut and designing a road car without the constraint of FIA regulations had been on Adrian Neweys' mind for a while. The deal was done in a Buckinghamshire pub over bangers and mash. Not exactly cutting edge.
Unlike Aston, Mercedes didn't boast about their hybrid hypercar. They kept their heads down and quietly added another chapter to their already infamous story. The Project ONE was derived by the very successful road car designer Gorden Wagener, who has previously worked for Volkswagen, GM and Mazda before calling Mercedes home. With no experience of creating a hypercar or trackcar, Merc have been very brave with their choice and it has definitely paid off. Down the road from Brackely in Milton Keynes/Newport Pagnell, the Valkyrie was designed by the most successful Formula One car designer of all time; Adrian Newey. Ten constructors' titles proves he knows exactly what he's doing. He's even designed a race car for Playstations' Gran Turismo but he's never made a road car. Yes, the Valkyrie is more at home on a track but it is legally roadworthy. On the design front the two almost balance out: Wagener can make road cars but never done a racer, where Newey has made racing champions but not something for the public. Personally I think it's advantage Aston at this point.
The Project ONE looks more conservative whereas the Valkyrie looks insane.
This is where the claws come out. Both have an internal combustion engine, both have electric motors, both have semi automatic gearboxes so how have they done it differently. Let's start with the dinosaur. The old school engine in the Valkyrie is also steeped in glory, a 6.5 litre Cosworth made V12. Everything about that makes me very excited, I'm still old fashioned about engines. Mercedes have decided to put more of an emphasis on the electric side seeing that as the future and fitted the Project ONE with only a 1.6 litre Mercedes twin turbo V6. The three direct drive electric motors in the Merc are impressive with the way they are all fitted in. In contrast, the Valkyrie only has one direct drive motor which seems like a bit of a token gesture to get around new rules. On both cars, the way the electric and petrol engines combine to form one glorious speed machine is staggering. You've got to applaud Mercedes and Aston/Cosworth/Red Bull for what they've come up with.
As intriguing as the mechanics of them are, all anyone whats to know is which is faster. There's only one way to say it: it's the Valkyrie! It's lighter at 1.03 tonnes and produces more horsepower giving out an eye watering 1,130hp shooting it to 60mph in 2.5 seconds. Jesus, that is unbelievable. The Project ONE is 1.3 tonnes and produces a only 1,020hp. The 0-60 time is still achingly close with just 0.1 of a second in it, the Mercedes in 2.6 seconds. The weight, or lack of, is what clinched it for the Aston and that is down to the aero. Newey created two massive Venturi tunnels, a la F1, under the Valkyrie giving the illusion the cockpit is floating on air. Although the Project ONE does have clever aero, it's not near as extreme it's rival. When it comes to aerodynamics, Colin Chapman and Adrian Newey are revolutionaries. While the Anglo-Saxon Merc could catch the Anglo-Austrian Aston to 60 over a two mile straight, like Yas Marina, the Project ONE doesn't stand a chance as it will plateau at 217mph where the bonkers Valkyrie will keep going to 250mph.
The biggest numbers attached to these cars by far is the price. You'd need to win Who Wants To Be A Millionaire three times to afford the Aston Martin Valkyrie so the Mercedes Project ONE is an absolute bargain at £2.4 million. God only knows how much the track version of the Valkyrie, the AMR Pro, will cost!
Who would you rather be?
Believe it or not there are people in the world that are wealthy enough to actually afford one of these fantastic beasts. Many are either reality TV stars that will want to be seen to be best friends with Lewis Hamilton or they're sporting legends that strive for nothing but the best and a competitive edge that seems too risky like Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull. For me, and this will ruffle a few feathers, I feel like while the Project ONE is astonishing it will be bought by the wrong type of person. It will end up in the Kardashians driveway as a status symbol and in A$AP Rocky songs not to a true car/technology lover who will cherish it and drive it like it deserves to be. The Aston on the other hand is already sold out and nearly every buyer is on the F1 grid. The Aston seems like it isn't into all that silicone, reality fakery. The only time I'm guessing you'll see it on a screen is with Bond at the wheel and if it's anything like Spectre it'll be dumped in a river.
So that's the story of the Aston Martin Valkyrie and the Mercedes Project ONE. For me (not that I'm a millionaire with any influential power, I've got about £30 to my name) the Aston Martin takes the top step. It's faster, lighter, more extreme and let's be honest having Neweys' name to it adds about half a million to the price tag. This battle isn't just down to sales, it carries on every second weekend of the Formula One season now that Aston have gotten into bed with Red Bull.
Feel free to comment and share your view, I promise I won't bite if you're a Mercedes fan. Thanks for taking the time to read this, hope you enjoyed it. Let's see what Monaco brings.