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Zetsche first CEO to fulfill oft-broken F1 promise

LUCA CIFERRI

The Mercedes Project One road car will have the same engine that Mercedes uses in its F1 racer.

September 9, 2017 06:01 CET

Luca Ciferri is associate publisher and editor of Automotive News Europe.

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Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is the first CEO I know to fulfill his promise to transfer his company’s Formula One technology to a road-ready vehicle.

It’s taken 60 years to see this happen, but the Mercedes-AMG Project One supercar, which will debut at the Frankfurt auto show, appears to be the closest thing to a F1 racecar that money can buy.

Racing business insiders tell me the production Project One’s engine will be the same 1.6-liter V-6 turbo that the Mercedes Silver Arrow has used to dominate F1 since 2014.

One major difference, however, is that the road car’s 1000-hp engine needs dealer maintenance every 1,500 km, while the racecar’s powerplant gets serviced after each race, which is about 500 km.

It’s unclear how much the 275 car enthusiasts who purchase the Project One will have to pay to tune up an engine that can push the car above 350 kph, but whatever the cost it is unlikely to scare off people who are expected to pay 2 million euros the supercar.

Hearing about the upcoming arrival of the Project One reminded me of a conversation I had with Zetsche in mid-2014. When we talked about whether Mercedes would actually put its F1 technology into a production model he told me: “There is no doubt that we are very pleased to have objectives and targets in Formula One that are much more similar to the objectives for our production cars than in the past.”

In his view, delivering high performance with fewer cylinders by relying more on turbocharging and hybrid systems worked perfectly for both Mercedes’ F1 and production cars. “Technologically, it’s a two-way street where we can learn and benefit from each other,” he said.

The Project One finally shows this is actually possible.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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