A lot of sport cars and supercar like to say they use Formula One technology, but the $2.7 million Mercedes-AMG ONE is the first to actually put a F1 engine into a road car. How did they do it? They wished they hadn’t!
AMG unveiled the concept version of the ONE, called the Project One, way back in 2017 at the International Motor Show in Germany. The plan was to make 275 samples, sell them for $2.7 million each, and deliver them in 2019. We’re now in 2022 and not a single car has been delivered.
Mercedes-AMG has cited various roadblocks during the development of the project, with stricter emissions laws chief among them. The engineering required to make a F1 engine reliable enough for daily road use also pushed AMG engineers to their limits. Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius said he was probably drunk when he gave the go ahead to make the car.
“The team at AMG and the High Performance Powertrain Formula 1 arm came to us about four years ago and said ‘we’ve got a great idea, let’s put a Formula 1 engine into a road car.’ I will have to go back to check the meeting minutes, but I’m sure we were drunk when we said yes.” – Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius
Drunk or not, I’m glad Källenius and his executive staff said yes because the finished product is finally here and it is amazing! The Mercedes-AMG ONE will officially be seen in action for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (June 23 – 26).
The AMG ONE brings the world’s most modern and efficient Formula 1 hybrid drive technology from the race track to the road for the first time. The performance hybrid produces 1049 hp from one combustion engine and four electric motors. Powerful enough to go from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 2.9 seconds, and continue to a top speed of 352 km/h (218 mph).
AMG ONE is the closest thing you can get to driving an actual Formula 1 car on the road. The F1 tech ranges from the carbon-fibre monocoque and carbon-fibre body to the load bearing engine/transmission unit, active aerodynamics and the push-rod suspension. With its complex technologies, the two-seater Mercedes offers even more than a Formula 1 racing car in some cases. It features the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ fully variable all-wheel drive with hybrid-driven rear axle and electrically driven front axle with torque vectoring. It can also drive purely electrically.
“With the Mercedes-AMG ONE, we have more than pushed the envelope. The immense technical challenges of making a modern Formula 1 powertrain suitable for everyday road use have undoubtedly pushed us to our limits. Over the duration of the development period, many may have thought that the project would be impossible to implement.” – Philipp Schiemer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
The Mercedes-AMG ONE uses the same 1.6 liter turbo V6 as the Mercedes F1 race car. Unlike the engine used in the race car, the AMG ONE engine is designed to run on normal premium gas and last 30,000 miles before needing a rebuild. Yes, an engine that last only 30,000 miles seem laughable but you have remember this is a full blown Formula 1 engine, not an engine used in a Toyota Camry. You also need to ask if any owner is going to even come close to putting 30,000 miles on their AMG ONE.
To achieve the 30,000 mile requirement, AMG reduced the engine redline to 11,000 RPM from 15,000 RPM of the typical F1 engine. They also reduced the idle speed to 1,280 RPM, which is very high for a street car but no where near the insane 5,000 rpm idle of a F1 race car. The last thing they needed to do was figure out how to start it. In a Formula 1 car, a team of engineers with laptops is needed to start the engine. With AMG ONE, you just need to push the START button.
The V6 engine is aided by four electric motors to bring total system power to 1049 hp. One has been integrated into the turbocharger, another has been installed directly on the combustion engine with a link to the crankcase and the two remaining motors drive the front wheels. While you can drive the AMG ONE with the electric motors only, you won’t get very far. EV only range is just 18.1 km (11.25 miles).
The AMG ONE engine makes a crazy high 359 hp per liter thanks to its F1 split turbo system. The exhaust gas turbine (in red) is at the back of the engine and the compressor turbine (in blue) is at the front. Separating the turbo allows a lower installation position and less heat build up on the compressor turbine. The exhaust and compressor turbines are connected by a common shaft. On the shaft is a 90 kW (120 hp) electric motor that drives the turbocharger shaft directly, accelerating the compressor wheel up to 100,000 rpm before the exhaust gas flow takes over. This technically makes the turbo a supercharger, but Mercedes still wants to call it a turbo. I should note that electric turbos were banned by F1 in 2021.
The electric turbo gives the AMG ONE Lightning-quick response. Mercedes-AMG claims response time is faster than a naturally aspirated V8 engine. Even when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator or brakes, the turbo is able to maintain boost pressure at all times. This ensures a continuously direct response. The turbo can add up to 3.5 bar (50 psi) of boost, which is absolutely insane for a street car. You better make sure you fill it up with only the most premium gas.
The electric turbocharger in the AMG ONE has one another advantage: it uses part of the surplus energy from the exhaust gas flow to generate electrical energy as a generator. This is either stored in the high-voltage lithium-ion battery or fed to the electric front axle or the electric motor on the combustion engine. All this adds up to a thermal efficiency of 40 per cent, making the AMG ONE the most efficient gas powered car on the road. The AMG ONE gets a combined 27 mpg, which is pretty damn good for a 1049 hp car!
The AMG ONE wouldn’t be a F1 car for the road if it didn’t have a F1 steering wheel. The steering wheel on the AMG ONE combines operating and functional elements with original race car components to ensure safe operation in extreme driving situations. The “shift light” is displayed at the top of the steering wheel rim, as is usual in racing cars. The steering wheel, which is flattened at the top and bottom and has an integrated airbag, offers further motorsport trim elements: the two integrated AMG steering wheel buttons can be used to activate various functions without having to take your hands off the wheel. For example, the drive programs, the nine-stage AMG Traction Control, the activation of the DRS or the suspension settings.
To ensure optimal rearward visibility despite the vertical wing on the rear and no rear window, the interior mirror is replaced by a LED screen. It shows real-time footage from a MirrorCam integrated into the rear. The screen housing is fully integrated into the roof and accommodates further controls.
The interior features exposed carbon fibre that delightfully contrast with the material/colour combination of the seat pans in magma grey nappa leather and black DINAMICA microfibre. With their special design, the seat inlays support air circulation at the driver’s back. Yellow contrasting topstitching adds further highlights as standard, but other colours are also available.
Like a real F1 car, the seats are non adjustable and custom fitted to the owner’s body. Driving adjustments are made by moving the steering wheel, brake and gas pedal. The seats don’t move at all.
Not For Sale In The US But Coming To the US
It’s not hard to imagine that a car that’s three years overdue went way over its development budget. Even at $2.7 million a piece, Mercedes is probably going to end up losing money on the AMG ONE. So, it’s not a surprise when Mercedes announced they were not going to go though the extra expense of certifying the car for US safety and emissions standards. This mean the AMG ONE is not legal in the US. However, I expect to see one soon at South OC Cars and Coffee.
US buyers of the AMG ONE will have to import their cars using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) Show or Display rule. This rule allows certain privately imported automobiles to be exempted from FMVSS, if the vehicle in question is deemed to meet a standard of “historical or technological significance.” The AMG ONE clearly meets the technological significance requirements. Vehicles imported using Show or Display are limited to 2,500 miles a year of driving on public roads, which is probably 10X higher than what the typical AMG ONE owner will do.
Now that the AMG ONE is in production, you might be asking how does one go about getting one. Well, you can forget about it, even if you have the $2.7 million asking price. All 275 AMG ONEs were sold out years ago.