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The Mercedes-AMG One is a Formula 1 car for the road

See what it’s like to be Lewis Hamilton with this hypercar

Does this remind you of the road-going CLK-GTR? PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

It took five long years, but the Silver Arrows has finally launched its long-awaited hypercar. The Mercedes-AMG One has a 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid V6 with four electric motors producing a maximum power of 1,063hp with a top speed of 352km/h.

Designing and building a car like this is no easy feat since you can’t just take the engine from an F1 car and stuff it in the chassis of a hypercar. Race cars were designed to go fast in controlled environments, while road cars have to be reliable and dependable in a variety of driving situations.

After driving this on the racetrack, you can bring it home, too. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

The engines in F1 cars are highly specialized, made with specialized materials that cost a fortune. The high engine speed also proves a challenge for comfortable daily driving, especially with stop-go traffic.

Reliability is another issue as these engines have a limited lifespan. Just take a look at how many power units F1 teams go through in a season. All of this shows that the real engineering marvel isn’t the raw performance, but the fact Mercedes-AMG was able to get the car working normally.

Whereas an F1 car requires a team of engineers with computers to start up, the AMG One can start in one’s garage with the push of a button, which is quite an achievement in itself.

This shares the same power unit as the championship-winning W06. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

Usually, people associate the term engine with the powertrain of a vehicle. However, F1 powertrains are more than just that as there are six elements that make up the power unit. The first two elements are the engine and the turbocharger, which produces 574hp on its own.

There are two motor generator units responsible for harvesting and deploying additional energy. The motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H) deals with the heat energy from the exhaust gases from the turbocharger. In between the turbine and the compressor is an electric motor that drives the compressor at low engine speeds. This eliminates turbo lag and delivers power instantly.

When it isn’t spinning the compressor, the MGU-H can also harvest energy from the exhaust gases coming out of the turbine and store it in the lithium-ion battery or feed it to the other electric motors.

Meanwhile, the motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K) is an electric motor connected to the crankshaft via a gear train. Under deceleration, it recovers kinetic energy which can be deployed at a rate of 120kW.

Good luck managing all of those electronics. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

The lithium-ion battery is another crucial element of the power unit. The battery of the AMG One can also be found in the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance. It has a capacity of 8.4kWh translating to a range of 18.1km and can be charged through the integrated 3.7kW onboard charger, the motor generator units, and also the engine. Even with the most powerful engine and motors, it would amount to nothing without a control system.

Have you ever watched an F1 race where a driver suddenly loses power for no apparent reason, only to be told to change a couple of settings to go back to normal? Aside from regulating the power harvested/deployed by the MGUs, it is also responsible for the engine mapping and the combustion behavior.

One feature the AMG One has, which the F1 car doesn’t, is a pair of 120kW electric motors on the front axle making the vehicle all-wheel drive. Spinning up to 50,000rpm, they are connected to the front wheels via a reduction gear allowing for torque vectoring to achieve optimum power distribution. When the engine is not in use, these motors let the car function like an EV.

Select Strat 2 for hammer time. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

The AMG One has six different driving modes with four for normal driving and two for on-track action. “Race Safe” is the standard mode where the engine is only used when more power is needed. In “Race,” the engine runs continuously to ensure the battery is always fully charged. “EV” is for all-electric driving, while “Individual” lets the driver adjust the settings according to personal preference.

The fun stuff happens in the two track-only modes. “Race Plus” lowers the chassis (37mm at the front and 30mm at the rear) and enables active aerodynamics. “Strat 2” is used in qualifying when full power is needed. Unlike the F1 car, the AMG One uses a seven-speed manual transmission with hydraulically controlled shift rods and a four-disc carbon-fiber clutch.

No need to go through a detection zone to activate DRS. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

Active aerodynamics maximizes cornering speed without sacrificing top speed. The car has three aerodynamic setups to choose from depending on the driving scenario. For modes designed for the road (Race Safe, Race, EV, and Individual), the Highway setup closes the louvres, extends the active flaps on the front diffuser, and retracts the rear wing.

For track-only modes (Race Plus and Strat 2), the car turns into a different beast as downforce is maximized and the vehicle is lowered by 37mm at the front, and 30mm at the rear resulting in up to five times more downforce.

Also, just like F1 cars, the AMG One has the Drag Reduction System for the track where the rear wing flap completely retracts while the louvres are closed. This reduces downforce by around 20%, and increases top speed. DRS can be deactivated manually, but it also shuts off when braking or when lateral acceleration increases.

Nice to know there's a fire extinguisher at arm's reach. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

The interior is described as “Formula 1 for two.” Whereas Lewis Hamilton’s car is an open-wheel single-seater, the AMG One is a two-seater hypercar.

Being a road car, the interior incorporates features for daily driving. Two high-resolution 10-inch displays are used for the instrument panel and the multimedia monitor, and there are even two USB ports for external audio devices. Thankfully, not only is the AMG One spacious (relative to an F1 car), but it also has the luxury of air-conditioning.

Even F1 drivers have difficulty understanding all these settings. PHOTO FROM MERCEDES-AMG

If you still aren’t convinced that this is a Formula 1 car for the road, then look no further than the steering wheel. All these buttons and switches are responsible for functions like drive programs, traction control, DRS, and suspension settings.

Only 275 units of the Mercedes-AMG One will be made, all of which have already been sold at around $2,700,000 (P141,552,000) each. The closest ordinary folks can get to own it, is by purchasing it on Forza Horizon 5 via Xbox One or PC. If you’d like to see it in the metal, it will make its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 23-26.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.