Everything we know about Newey’s ‘no rules’ F1-level Red Bull hypercar

Formula 1 design legend Adrian Newey has always had an affinity for projects outside of grand prix racing, getting creative with new concepts and ideas.

Everything we know about Newey’s ‘no rules’ F1-level Red Bull hypercar

The latest fruit of his labours was announced by Red Bull on Tuesday, when plans for the RB17 hypercar were revealed at its Milton Keynes headquarters in the UK.

The RB17 is set to be the first car fully produced by Red Bull, having previously worked in conjunction with Aston Martin on the Valkyrie project - and it promises some serious performance.

The Red Bull RB17 will be produced and developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, overseen by chief technical officer Newey, who said that a track car was the “obvious thing” for the group to pursue.

“If you’re going to do a track car, it’s like OK, what do you set as its attributes?” Newey said. “And the thing we decided on was Formula 1 levels of performance, but in something that is relatively comfortable, relatively easy to run, and you can drive at whatever speed you see comfortable with, up to its performance limit of Formula 1 levels.”

The idea of a blank canvas - or a blank drawing board, which Newey famously still uses for all his designs - is something that excites all designers. But the reality is such a thing rarely exists. Newey got a taste of what it is like to design a car with no limitations back in 2010, when he came up with a concept design for the Gran Turismo video game series, the Red Bull X2010. This made use of fan car technology and was a lightweight, 1,400 bhp canopied single-seater, which beat the F1 track record at Suzuka by 20 seconds during a simulator run.

Adrian Newey:

Adrian Newey: "We decided on Formula 1 levels of performance, but in something that is relatively comfortable, relatively easy to run."

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

It wasn’t quite the same approach for Newey when it came to designing the RB17 for the real world. “Of course it has physics regulations,” he said. “We need to patch in two people, and you have got to assume that at least one of those is quite tall. So you have all these constraints, we really need to use existing tyres. So we have a few constraints, you need to make sure the car is safe of course.

“But outside that, this is effectively a no rules car with the constraint of carrying two people, rather than the single person of the 2010 PlayStation car.”

The idea of a “no rules” car makes the Red Bull RB17 an exciting prospect for the automotive industry, giving a taste of F1 technology in a track car. Here is everything that we know so far about it.

When will the Red Bull RB17 enter production?

Development of the Red Bull RB17 is ongoing for Red Bull Advanced Technologies, but CEO Christian Horner said he expected it to be “up and running within 12 months”, with a view to starting deliveries of the car in 2024.

How many Red Bull RB17s will be produced?

You will have to move quickly to get your hands on a Red Bull RB17. Only 50 cars are being produced at a rate of around 15 per year, plus prototypes that will be used for development and testing.

Lucky owners of the track car will also enjoy “a close association with the Red Bull Racing team through access to simulators, vehicle program development and on-track training and experiences”, as well as factory support and maintenance tailored to each owner.

Why is it called the Red Bull RB17?

Had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic and the freeze in F1’s technical regulations, last year’s Red Bull F1 car would have been called the RB17. But when the carryover to cut costs was enforced between 2020 and 2021, Red Bull opted to call its car the RB16B.

To then keep in line with its naming lineage for the number of years it has been in F1, the 2022 car was called the RB18, meaning - initially - there was never going to be an RB17.

“With this car having true Formula 1 performance, it felt right that it fall in that lineage and have that 17 moniker,” said Horner.”

What engine will the Red Bull RB17 use?

Red Bull has opted for a twin-turbo V8 engine for the RB17, targeting an output of around 1,100 bhp. However, it is yet to make a decision on who will be producing the powertrain.

“We are now considering how we do that,” said Newey. “As you know, we now have our own in-house Red Bull Powertrains, a young company. Equally, we can look to other specialists. So we are in that process at the moment.”

How quick will the RB17 be compared to a Formula 1 car?

The push to get F1 levels of performance in the RB17 mean the same methodologies and processes will be involved in its development, as well as harnessing what technology it can.

Being in the same ballpark as F1 cars can be judged in a variety of ways, but Newey made clear the comparison would be made on lap time, which he said is “ultimately all that counts”.

“Of course, it will be circuit specific,” Newey said. “The big battle really is weight. Once you kind of do a car that’s big enough to take two people with a roof on it for practicality and safety for most people, then automatically the car becomes heavier than a Formula 1 car. It’s then doing all the other things you need to do to try and achieve that performance.”

The RB17 is Red Bull's first hypercar project since it worked with Aston Martin on the Valkyrie

The RB17 is Red Bull's first hypercar project since it worked with Aston Martin on the Valkyrie

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Will the RB17 be road-legal?

No, it won’t be. Unlike the Valkyrie, which Red Bull helped design before Aston Martin took over responsibility of the project, this will not be a road-going production car.

“It’s less central to our DNA at this stage as a company,” Newey explained. “We’re starting much more from what we know, and I think if it was a road car and designed as a road car, you’d be tied into higher numbers, which is not something we feel comfortable in doing at this point in time.”

Will Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez be involved in the car’s development?

Yes. As part of Red Bull’s push to harness all of its F1 insights for the RB17, Verstappen and Perez are set to play a part in its development, according to Horner.

“Max drove the Valkyrie on occasion, I think he’s a customer of that vehicle as well,” Horner said. “Whether they choose to buy one of these cars will be down to them, but we’ll certainly be looking to use, all the skill sets that we have in the test and development of these vehicles.”

How will the RB17 compare to the Valkyrie?

According to Newey, the RB17 will have “significantly more performance” than the Valkyrie, partly aided by the lack of constraints required to make something road-legal.

“The Valkyrie was conceived as a road car, and with that of course comes various limitations compared to when you’re purely chasing performance,” Newey said.

“I think the biggest thing of course as we said earlier is trying to keep weight down, so there’ll be lots on that. Power is almost the relatively easy bit nowadays, such is the advancement in engine technology.

“Then it’s just really making sure the aerodynamics are the other big contributor is performing well, and there’s quite a few tricks from the past that we’ll be using to achieve that.”

How much will the Red Bull RB17 cost?

£5 million. Plus VAT. So really, £6 million. Red Bull is already accepting expressions of interest for the RB17.

“I must admit, I always feel slightly embarrassed when you mention the five million pound mark,” Newey conceded. “The reality is though that, as Christian well knows, I’ll spend whatever the income is - and a bit! The building materials that go into these cars, when you start to make them to an F1 level, is frightening. Then you put in the development and testing, it’s a number that creeps up on you unfortunately.”

Horner joked: “The one department that Adrian doesn’t know where it is on the campus is the finance department! That’s never been his job to have to deal with that.”

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