Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has elaborated in an extensive Financial Times interview on some of the ‘hobby projects’ it has offered Adrian Newey over the years to let the 64-year-old British designer go wild on cars that see him less limited than when designing a Formula 1 car. According to Horner, Aston Martin almost went under before the Valkyrie project, but Red Bull has still given Newey a new project in the form of the RB17.
Firstly, Horner looks back on the project that Red Bull took on together with Aston Martin, in the days when Aston Martin could still be found on the rear wing of the Red Bulls. ‘It was a completely different experience, because at a company that, like Aston Martin, produces its own parts for other manufacturers, everything costs money. And of course we have Adrian Newey, who probably has no idea where our finance department is at all!’ says Horner with a laugh.
The cost of the Valkyrie was high, almost too high, Horner recalls. In any case, Aston Martin still exists, and is of course now active in Formula 1 itself, and with a second place in the championship, Red Bull’s first challenger. “He built an incredible, incredible, incredible car that nearly bankrupted Aston Martin! But it’s definitely a gem of a car,” Horner believes. “Of course we have regulations in Formula 1, but that’s nothing compared to all the rules and restrictions when it comes to road cars, so we’ve learned a lot from this challenge.” It was an interesting challenge and one from which our Advanced Technology side of the business learned a lot, and I think it will serve us well going forward.”
RB17 must be able to compete with Formula 1 cars
After the Aston Martin Valkyrie, Red Bull is already working on the next project. Because the Formula 1 teams were hardly allowed to adjust the cars between 2020 and 2021, the 2021 version was named RB16B at Red Bull Racing. The 2022 car was then the RB18, leaving the RB17 free, and Red Bull is capitalizing on this by naming the next project. According to Horner, the RB17 must become the ultimate race car, which must exceed the downforce levels of the Formula 1 cars. “After all the lessons with the Valkyrie and the limitations we had with it, we felt like we had unfinished business,” Horner explains why they are now building a car that doesn’t have to meet the requirements to drive on public roads. be allowed.’
Top designer Newey can therefore go wild on the RB17 with almost no restrictions, says Horner: ‘So we announced the RB17, where we actually let Adrian (Newey, ed.) do his thing completely, and we let him build the ultimate track car with such a lot of downforce that it beats the power-to-weight ratio of our Formula 1 car. The intention is that we will build 50 of these track cars, combining all the Formula 1 DNA that Adrian has come across in his career to provide the ultimate driving experience.”