Since the first reveal of the Valkyrie hypercar back in July last year, Aston Martin, Red Bull Advanced Technologies and project partner AF Racing have collectively been working to further develop the Valkyrie’s aerodynamics, body styling and cockpit packaging.
Today Aston Martin has unveiled an updated prototype whose design is said to be very close to the production version – it’s “about 95%” complete according to the designers.
The teardrop-shaped cockpit’s upper body surfaces and lower tub contours follow the envelope of space available between the huge full length Venturi tunnels that run either side of the cockpit floor. Drawing huge quantities of air beneath the car to feed the rear diffuser, these tunnels are the key to generating the Valkyrie’s high levels of downforce while keeping the upper body surfaces free from additional aerodynamic devices that would spoil the purity of the racing-infused styling.
To maximise interior space the seats are mounted directly to the tub, with occupants adopting a reclined ‘feet-up’ position reminiscent of today’s Formula One and Le Mans Prototype race cars. A four-point harness comes as standard, while an optional six-point harness will be offered for those who intend to do more track driving.
The Aston Martin design team say they were keen to keep distractions to a minimum and focus the driver on the road ahead. To this end all switchgear is located on the steering wheel, with all the vital signs shown on a single OLED display screen. The steering wheel is also detachable, both to aid ingress and egress, and to serve as an additional security device.
Careful attention has also been paid to the glasshouse design to ensure forward and peripheral side-to-side vision is as uninterrupted as possible. To avoid any unwanted aerodynamic disturbance or stylistic ‘clutter’ traditional door mirrors have been replaced by discreetly mounted rear facing cameras in each of the Valkyrie’s flanks. These feed two displays which are positioned at the base of each A-post to mimic the view provided by conventional door mirrors. The all-enveloping bodywork and roof-mounted engine air intake means there is no rear window, negating the requirement for a rearview mirror.
“It’s been a tremendous challenge to make the interior packaging work. We’ve embraced Red Bull Racing’s Formula One ethos and approached from a different angle than conventional road car design. In this instance, we’ve started from a position where you think something is impossible and work at it until you find a way to make it work,” says Aston Martin’s creative director of interiors, Matt Hill.
While the essence of the original Valkyrie exterior design remains unchanged, Adrian Newey’s pursuit of downforce and aerodynamic efficiency has resulted in multiple detail changes to the bodywork.
One of the biggest changes in this latest model are openings in the body surface between the cockpit and front wheel arches, Adrian Newey having found that they were the key to achieving increased gains in front downforce. It was then the job of the Aston Martin design team to integrate these new apertures into the overall design and ensure they had aesthetic merit as well as aerodynamic function.
While aerodynamics and downforce are the dominant story, Valkyrie features plenty of other interesting details. These include the headlights, which take inspiration from the pure functionality of a Formula One car’s components. Aston Martin’s designers stripped things back to the bare essentials, deciding to showcase the engineering rather than concealing it behind cladding. With the low and high beam elements attached to an intricate exposed anodised aluminium frame, the headlamp units are claimed to be 30-40 per cent lighter than the lightest series production headlamps currently available to Aston Martin.
The same approach has been taken with the Aston Martin ‘wings’ badge that features on the nose. With the regular badge considered too heavy, and a simple sticker not befitting for a car of the Valkyrie’s quality, the design team came up with a chemical etched aluminium badge just 70 microns thick. That’s 30 per cent thinner than a human hair, and 99.4 per cent lighter than the regular enamel wings badge. The badge (nicknamed the ‘lacewing’) is then attached to the painted body and covered with a smooth coat of lacquer.
Further noteworthy details can be found at the rear of the car, with the centre high mounted stop light (CHMSL). Mounted on the tip of the small shark’s fin that runs down the spine of the Valkyrie’s airbox and rear bodywork, the light is just 5.5 mm wide and 9.5 mm high. Illuminated by a red LED it is the world’s smallest CHMSL and evidence of how every element of the Valkyrie is scrutinised in the pursuit of eliminating unnecessary weight and drag.
Aston Martin creative director of exterior design, Miles Nurnberger, said of the Valkyrie’s design evolution: “I would say we’re around 95 per cent of the way there with the exterior design. Much of what you see is actually the structure of the car, so this had to be signed-off relatively early in the project. The remaining areas of non-structural bodywork are still subject to evolution and change as Adrian [Newey] continues to explore way of finding more downforce. The new outlets in the body are a case in point. Ordinarily the last thing we’d want to do to one of our surfaces is cut a hole in it, but these vents work the front wings so much harder that they’ve found a significant gain in front downforce. The fact that they are so effective gives them their own functional beauty, but we’ve finessed them without impacting on their functionality. That they also serve as windows through which to view the fabulous wing section front wishbones is a welcome bonus!”