The coolest crossover in the world of cars is that between motorsports and showrooms when manufacturers offer race tech in road-legal vehicles. At the top of this petrolhead summit are cars with integral links to F1. Mercedes has climbed these heights by finally completing the AMG One that features its championship-winning F1 engine.
The Mercedes-AMG Formula One team has dominated the turbo-hybrid era since 2014. After winning three Constructor titles in a row, the German carmaker announced that it will be putting its 2016 racing engine from the W07 into a road car. That’s the season where Mercedes won the title with the largest single championship tally ever – scoring 765 points, nearly 300 points ahead of second-place finisher Red Bull. In the wild world of driving enthusiasts, it makes complete sense to put your most successful motorsport engine in the modern era into a road car to show that you can.
Turns out there’s a good reason why other brands have not done that throughout F1 history, other than Ferrari with the F50. It’s extremely complicated to convert a racing engine into a road-legal engine that is compliant with regulations that are becoming increasingly stringent against combustion engines. So, it took the cleverest people at Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (the company that makes their F1 engines) nearly 6 years to bring the project to fruition.
Now that you’re caught up on the broad history of the Mercedes-AMG One, let’s see what the production-spec model has to offer.
The final powertrain is a work of genius
It’s called the E Performance hybrid drive that uses the F1 car’s 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine with four electric motors. The final road version of that championship-winning engine has a rev limit of 11,000 rpm while idling at around 1,250rpm. It also features four electric motors and an 8.4kWh high-performance lithium-ion battery.
The exhaust gas turbocharger is electrified with a 90kW electric motor to maintain boost pressure even at low engine speeds. It can also use surplus energy from the exhaust gas flow to generate electrical energy that can either be stored in the battery or fed to the other three motors.
The MGU-K is another key F1 tech element with an output of 120kW (163hp). This electric motor is positioned directly on the combustion engine and connected to the crankshaft for max efficiency and performance.
All the power from the engine and the MGU-K is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed sequential manual transmission. It’s got one gear less than an F1 car, and it was developed especially for the AMG One. Additional nerd detail: the transmission is integrated into the main carbon body as a load-bearing structure for increased rigidity.
The final two motors of the AMG One are on the front axle to drive the front wheels with an output of 120kW (163hp) each. Since each wheel is driven separately, it enables torque vectoring on the front axle for better driving dynamics for the AWD hybrid hypercar. These motors can also recuperate energy under braking.
The official maximum performance output of the Mercedes-AMG One is listed at 1063hp.
The boring EV bit
The AMG One is a plug-in hybrid with a charging socket on the rear left. Its liquid-cooled battery is good enough for a silent range of 18km allowing you to leave your residential space without waking the neighbours with your F1 engine.
Built for the track
The AMG One may not be a hardcore track day toy like some other hypercars with well over 1000hp, but there is no doubting its track credentials. Two key factors at play are the aerodynamic elements and the lightweight construction.
At a kerb weight of 1,695kg, the AMG One is not really a lightweight. But that’s still pretty light thanks to the carbon tub for the two-seater cabin, various carbon-fibre body panels and weight-saving designs for a myriad of mechanical components. The wheels are exclusive to the Mercedes-AMG One with a carbon-fibre partial cover shaped by aerodynamics and the most lightweight option is the set of 9-spoke magnesium forged wheels. They’re wrapped in specially developed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R M01 tyres.
It has clever suspension too with five links front and rear and two adjustable suspension struts. A clever feature of the coil-over suspension is that both push-rod spring struts are installed across the direction of travel. It still gets electronically controlled adaptive damping for various suspension settings: C (comfort), S (Sport), and S+ (Sport+). The comfiest setting is for daily driving it on normal roads like a ‘regular’ Mercedes-AMG product.
The suspension also has hydraulic adjustments and the best one is when you switch to the “Track” drive program. It lowers the AMG One by 37mm at the front axle and 30mm at the rear axle, in that order. Other things happen which we’ll discuss in the aerodynamics section next. But the drop itself is not the most impressive in its category as I feel the Ford GT still has the most visually impressive “car drop” when going from road to track mode.
Designed by airflow
The F1 connection truly deepens when we start looking into the aerodynamic abilities of the Mercedes-AMG One. There are wings, ducts, vents and louvres on every surface that would otherwise be open on a racecar. Many of them are active aero elements for broader usability. The rest of the bodywork is a symphony of smooth surfaces to ensure it doesn’t disrupt airflow that could compromise the aerodynamic performance of the car. According to the brand’s technical directors, this hypercar probably underwent more wind-tunnel testing than today’s F1 cars whose developmment is restricted by the latest regulations.
In the front, it has large openings with various sections to channel the airflow to the right areas. The outlets in the bonnet, highlighted in the contrast carbon finish, guide the hot air around the cockpit while allowing the fresh air to go over it and into the F1-derived intake on the roof. There are active flaps on the front diffuser to influence front end aerodynamics.
The most distinctive aero elements on the front of the AMG One are the active vents or louvres on the front wheel arches that stand open, especially when you put the car into Track mode. By opening these vents, they can release the turbulent air build up around the front wheels and also generate more downforce on the front axle.
There are air curtains on either end of the side skirts that channel air. The elements behind the front wheels guide the air down the sides and towards the underbody and rear diffuser.
While the air intake is one of the star design features on the roof of the AMG One, it transitions into another F1-derived aero feature: a vertical shark fin. This fin helps improve cornering stability by preventing cross-flow and/or a break in airflow at the rear.
The true ‘star’ of the show is the F1 engine that is hidden under two carbon-fibre covers flanking the shark fin structure. These removable covers feature large NACA air intakes for guiding airflow into the radiators positioned just below the power unit. Under them, you can also see bits of the clever suspension and some shiny gold for dealing with the heat.
Lastly, we come to the most significant bit of aero on any track-focused hypercar. At first, it is surprising to see that it does not get a crazy fixed wing like the McLaren Senna or the AMG GT Black Series. There’s just the raised tail-end of the sculpted bodywork. But once you put it into Track mode, the active rear spoiler deploys like a katana presenting itself to a samurai, ready to slice air itself. It spans the width of the car and has a secondary adjustable flap for even more downforce.
Slight misdirection on the last para there as the aero wizardry continues below the rear spoiler as well. The AMG One has a two-part rear diffuser with longitudinal fins and openings for air ducts integrated into the underbody design. In the middle is the large F1-like central exhaust which is assisted by two small exhaust tips underneath. Most of the rear bodywork under the tri-sectioned taillights is just mesh for airflow while the diffuser and stuff are carbon fibre.
When all aero elements are deployed in Track mode, the total downforce increases by up to five times compared to the AMG One in regular road mode.
It has a DRS function
Yep. The AMG One has a Drag Reduction System (DRS) that can be activated via a button on the steering wheel. With DRS mode engaged, the rear wing flap retracts and the louvres are closed. It reduces downforce by around 20% and accelerates faster. Like an F1 car, you can deactivate DRS manually or have it deactivate automatically when braking.
What about the styling?
The AMG One has debuted in a livery based on the F1 car with the silver paint, exposed carbon fibre in black, Petronas blue highlights, and a collage of Mercedes stars towards the rear. It has also been shown in a red and black livery which looks more interesting, but I think we are yet to see the ideal colour that suits the Mercedes hypercar.
The only details which we didn’t discuss in the aerodynamics section were the lights. The taillamps look pretty cool with the diamond-shaped light signature but the headlamps look kind of tame for a car this intense. The design itself is not bad but it looks more Mercedes road car than a race car. It has no rear windscreen but it does get conventional wing mirrors that stick out a long way away from the core body.
Mercedes has given the AMG One butterfly doors for upping the cool quotient. The partial covers for the wheels look cool too, but it’d be interesting to see how other designs would look on the AMG One.
A surprisingly comfortable interior
Track-focused hypercars tend to have quite extreme interiors, as seen in the Aston Martin Valkyrie and even the McLaren Senna. But this is a Mercedes hypercar so it still has a series of comforts to make it easier to live with. The sculpted seat with comfortable padding is fixed in place and you can mechanically adjust the pedal box while the steering wheel column is electrically adjustable. The backrests do have some range of movement in the form of two positions: 25- and 30-degrees.
There’s a lot of visible carbon fibre around the cabin of the AMG One, especially the central console that houses the engine start-stop button illuminated in red. There’s a storage compartment between the seats which can house a fire extinguisher.
It also gets comforts like climate control, USB ports and an audio system. Like other Mercedes AMG products, it features two high-resolution 10-inch displays for the instrument cluster and a touchscreen infotainment system with model-specific visuals. In place of a normal rearview mirror, you get another display for the camera feed of the rear view.
A proper racing steering wheel
Many hypercars boast minimalistic carbon fibre steering wheels inspired by motorsports, but the AMG One steering wheel offers a balance between F1 and road cars. The shape and grip are quite similar to a racing steering wheel complemented by the shift lights on the top with coloured buttons for flashing the lights, one for engaging neutral and a pass button for some sort of all-out qualifying mode.
It gets the previous-gen AMG steering mounted controls which is a good thing because they have actual buttons instead of a haptic touch interface. Mercedes even fitted it with a pit limiter function with dedicated buttons for it. The drive mode selector is a dial on the bottom right section of the steering wheel while the bottom left corner gets hot keys for adjusting the suspension and traction control modes. There is a conventional stalk behind the wheel for wipers and indicators.
I think other performance brands can learn something about extremely sporty steering wheel designs from the AMG One. On the other hand, you have the likes of the GMA T.50 which offers a link to motorsports by way of minimalism and physical controls. Which steering wheel designs tickle your fancy? Let us know in the comments below.
All sold out
Considering pre-orders for the AMG One have been open for a few years and Mercedes is still unbeaten as an F1 Constructor Champion of the turbo-hybrid era, it surprises no one that all units have been sold. Only 275 units will be built with a starting price of around $3 million. Two well-known figures certainly are getting one of these: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. It’ll be interesting to see which other motorsport icon has managed to get their hands on one of these special machines. Customer deliveries are slated to begin by the end of 2022.
This production-spec Mercedes-AMG One will make its dynamic debut at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed as part of AMG’s 55th-anniversary celebrations.
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