How F1 genius Adrian Newey ‘almost bankrupted’ Aston Martin

Jamie Woodhouse
Adrian Newey arrives at the track. Barcelona, May 2022.

Red Bull's Adrian Newey arrives at the track for the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, May 2022.

While Adrian Newey has come up with a “gem of a car” in the Aston Martin Valkyrie in Christian Horner’s view, he almost left Aston Martin penniless in the process, too.

Aston Martin Lagonda and Red Bull Racing Advanced Technologies teamed up to produce this hybrid sportscar, Newey playing his part in the design phase by putting all of his extensive and wildly successful Formula 1 experience into creating what they claim will be the world’s fastest street-legal car.

The road car’s production will be limited to 150 units, though it sounds like Newey almost made it zero – but the news came through in October thatAston Martin will now be entering a track version of the Valkyrieinto the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2025, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA SportsCar Championship.

Of course a Formula 1 designer is very much focused solely on making the car go faster, how that is impacting the budget is the concern of the finance HQ, Horner joking that Newey probably does not even know where Red Bull’s is.

Nonetheless, while Horner quipped that Newey stretched the budget to the very limit, it was a mission which Horner believes has produced a stunning car, while “many lessons” were learned by Red Bull for future projects.

“It was a very different experience, because working with an OEM, even a small OEM like Aston, obviously cost is absolutely driven into anything in everything they do,” Horner told theFinancial Timesas he discussed the Valkyrie project back in May.

“And of course, we’ve got Adrian Newey, who probably doesn’t know where our finance department even is!

“He created an incredible, incredible car, that almost bankrupted Aston Martin! But I mean, it is an absolute gem of a car.

“And many lessons of course, we have a set of regulations in Formula 1, but they’re nothing like the road stipulations and regulations, so it was a huge learning exercise from that side of things.

“And yeah, it was an interesting exercise and one that the Advanced Technology side of our business learned a huge amount from, and I think will stand us in good stead for the future.”

And the next big sportscar project which Red Bull has planned, which will once more allow Newey’s creativity to roam free, is the RB17, which Horner describes as the “ultimate track car” and one that will exceed the downforce level of their Formula 1 machinery.

While ‘RB17’ is in-keeping with the naming policy for Red Bull’s Formula 1 cars, that name was never actually used by the team.

The global pandemic meant that large parts of the 2020 challengers were carried over into the following season, Red Bull therefore choosing to succeed their RB16 with the RB16B.

When the new ground-effect aerodynamics rules were introduced in 2022, Red Bull skipped ahead to RB18 for that year’s chassis.

The RB17 name will not remain absent though thanks to this new project as Red Bull let Newey “off the leash”. It may be wise to keep a close eye on the bank account then.

“After all the lessons with Valkyrie and if you like the constraints that we had with Valkyrie, we felt that there was unfinished business there,” said Horner.

“And so we announced the RB17, which was basically Adrian let off the leash to go and produce the ultimate track car with downforce that exceeds our Formula 1 car’s phenomenal power to weight ratio.

“And the plan is to produce 50 of these track-only cars, very much as a halo project, taking all of the Formula 1 DNA that Adrian has come across throughout his career and applying it to the ultimate driving experience.”


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Speaking of putting their Formula 1 experience to use elsewhere, Horner was then asked if there were any further looming Red Bull projects which he could spill the beans on.

It would seem that there are, and Horner would speak about how the Advanced Technology arm of the business is continuing to grow and explore new avenues, talking up the value of the platform which Formula 1 provides to make such opportunities happen.

“Through our Advanced Technology business we’re working on so many diverse projects,” said Horner. “We’re in America’s Cup with Alinghi. We’re making a submarine that will go down to I think 150 metres.

“We’re working on bikes, we’re in MotoGP with KTM, working on projects there, again taking knowledge and knowhow and applying it in other areas.

“这是一个激动人心的时刻为业务和team is continuing to grow, and as a marketing platform Formula 1 delivers so much. We’ve attracted some great partners with us and now we’re working with those partners and working in other areas.

“We’ve been through the world of NFTs, you name it. I mean, there’s not many things that we haven’t been involved with.”

A closer look at the Aston Martin Valkyrie

Aston Martin and Red Bull were certainly thinking go big or go home with the Valkyrie, and judging by the stats, they have very much hit the mark.

The hybrid powertrain is set to offer a whopping 1,160 horsepower, featuring a 6.5 litre naturally-aspirated V12 engine by Aston Martin-Cosworth. The electrical motor will provide 160 hp of the overall total.

That figure is set to place the Valkyrie at No.18 on the list of the most powerful production cars in the world.

One of the main rivals to the Valkyrie is the Mercedes AMG One, manufactured by the German car giant who took their Formula 1 technology and knowhow and put it into a hybrid sportscar.

Let us hope that Mercedes soon get their house back in order in the world of Formula 1, so that they once more can take the fight to Red Bull here, too, and provide a shot of excitement as Red Bull continue to run away with proceedings in F1 2023.