Mercedes has just released the second shadowy teaser image of its forthcoming AMG hypercard, and given it a name: Project ONE. First teased at the 2016 Paris Motor Show with a similarly shadowy design sketch, Merc has followed that up at the 2017 Detroit Motor Show with this image. Expect more teasers at more motor shows before, we hear, Mercedes unveils the Project ONE at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn.
Don't worry though, there are now a few more details confirmed too. Mercedes reckons it's 'the most fascinating two seater that will ever hit the road', which might irk Aston Martin and Red Bull as the pair ready the AM-RB 001, but then the Project ONE will have a road-legal Formula 1 engine…
A Formula 1 engine? That's right, the turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 that's powered Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to the past three Drivers' World Titles is being re-engineered to last more than a few thousand miles and deal with being stuck in the inevitable traffic jams when you're mobbed by supercar spotters. (The Aston makes do with just, just, a bespoke naturally aspirated V12, and while there's no promise of 1000bhp, it does promise 1000bhp-per-tonne).
That V6 engine will also be boosted by a hybrid system, but unlike the Merc Formula 1 cars, it won't act on the rear axle. Instead, Mercedes-AMG promises 'a purely electric and wheel-selective front-axle drive concept'. So expect proper torque vectoring up front (it'll be fascinating to feel how the tech has developed since we experienced it on the SLS Electric Drive) and lots of petrol power going to the rear tyres.
All in Mercedes-AMG promises more than 1000bhp, and given electric motors are known for developing lots of torque too, it won't be short of a few lb ft either.
Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers at the 2017 Detroit Motor Show. He drove a prototype version of the Project ONE hypercard for the first time last week…
Why not keep it purely rear-wheel drive? To save the tyres, to save the owners, to save the traction control system working every millisecond of every day, lots of technical reasons, and probably also because Porsche's 918 Spyder proved that you can be just as quick with four driven wheels as you can two.
As for the sketch itself, the Le Mans/LMP1/sports prototype design is becoming clearer (and we see a few hints of the iconic CLK GTR too). The roof-mounted air intake is obvious, but an F1 engine needs a lot of cooling so it's flanked by two big NACA-style inlets, behind which are a myriad of vents to expel the hot air.
Running down the spine of the car is a LMP1-alike 'shark fin' wing to aid high-speed stability, but on both the new image and the original sketch (below) there's no big rear spoiler obvious. Look closely at the new image though, and is there a hint in the trailing edge of the rear bodywork of a full-width pop-up aerofoil? Or we could be wrong, and like the AM-RB 001, this Merc-AMG could be moving us into an era where all the aero works under the car, rather than over it, negating the need for big wings that create drag.
We'll discover more details in the near future, but beyond what we know already, expect a carbonfibre chassis, extreme tyres, a tight and focused cockpit, and a price tag in the many millions. As for how many will be built, we hear fewer than 300, which might seem like a lot, but then Aston has already sold every one of its 150 AM-RB 001s…
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of AMG, so launching the Project ONE later this year on home turf at the Frankfurt Motor Show will be a not-too-shabby birthday present. Whereas if we ever get to this and the AM-RB 001 together, it'll seem like all our Christmases have come at once.
Read more about the sold-out Aston Martin AM-RB 001 here: bit.ly/2iABvr8