Aston Martin has begun road-testing its answer to the McLaren Senna: the 865 kW/900 Nm Valkyrie, powered by a 6.5-litre V12 petrol-electric hybrid that revs to 11 100 rpm.
The Valkyrie (codenamed AM-RB 001) was first unveiled in July 2016, and the Gaydon-based firm confirmed the hypercar's peak outputs about 12 months ago. The newcomer is now expected to be launched in the latter half of 2020 and only 150 road-going examples will be built, all of which have already been sold for a price of approximately R50-million apiece. The road-legal versions will be followed by a run of 25 track-optimised AMR Pro cars.
Aston Martin’s chief test driver Chris Goodwin has recently driven the Valkyrie on the roads surrounding the Silverstone F1 circuit and, in coming weeks, a team of engineers from the firm, as well as Red Bull Advanced Technologies will conduct a full programme of on-road tests with the car. Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer has described the Valkyrie as “a no-excuses halo car – the most luxurious car in its class, but also the quickest and the fastest. This car will be able to lap Silverstone as quick – or quicker – than an F1 or LMP1 car.”
As in the LaFerrari, there is a naturally aspirated V12 engine at the heart of the Valkyrie. Developed in conjunction with Cosworth and Red Bull Racing F1 team, the 6.5-litre produces 746 kW at 10 500 rpm and 740 Nm at 7 000 rpm.
The engine tips the scales at a mere 206 kg, by virtue of the lightweight alloy used to mill its internal parts (the conrods are made from titanium, for example). Reports say that after the motor has clocked up 100 000 km, Cosworth needs to check its block for cracks, in addition to replacing the pistons and valves.
The V12 unit is a structural component of the car’s chassis, which supports the rear wheels and suspension. The 119 kW/280 Nm electric motor, developed in tandem with Integral Powertrain Ltd and Rimac, sits between the engine and a bespoke single-clutch automated gearbox, with an F1-inspired energy recovery system harvesting kinetic energy under braking to recharge the battery pack.
Given its combined outputs of 865 kW and 900 Nm and a lightweight body constructed mainly from carbon fibre, the Valkyrie is said to have a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio. The hypercar’s lightweight braking system was provided by Alcon and Surface Transforms, while Bosch supplies the traction control system, electronic stability programme and engine control unit.
The car’s entire exterior design was defined by the quest for aerodynamic efficiency; a pair of massive Venturi tunnels run either side of the cockpit and skirt around the engine. Along with two vents in the Valkyrie’s front splitter, Aston Martin says the tunnels provide “considerable gains” in downforce. In fact, the Valkyrie is said to generate up to 1.8 tonnes of downforce at top speed.
Inside, the seats are mounted directly to the carbon-fibre tub, with Aston expecting drivers to adopt a “reclined ‘feet up’ driving position. A 4-point harness will be fitted as standard, but a 6-point system will be optional. An F1-style screen is built into the steering wheel (there is no instrument cluster), while 2 screens linked with cameras on either side of the car act as side mirrors.
Meanwhile, the hypercar will run on magnesium alloy wheels featuring race-spec centre lock nuts (to reduce unsprung mass), shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres (20-inch at the front, 21-inch at the rear).