AMG Project One could claim Nurburgring lap time record, says AMG boss

Jonathon Ramsey

Speaking to Autocar, typically understated AMG head honcho Tobias Moers said it's "reasonable to speculate" that the Mercedes-AMG Project One would take the absolute lap record at the Nürburgring. That means he's not talking about beating the 6:47.25 lap the Porsche 911 GT2 RS set last September. Nor is he talking about the 6:43.22 lap the McLaren P1 XP1 LM Prototype set in May 2017. Apparently Moers means beating one of two lap records set 35 years ago, both of them by Stefan Bellof in a Rothmans Porsche 956.

During qualifying for the 1983 Nürburgring 1000 KM, Bellof ran the 20.832-kilometer Nordschleife in 6:11.13. In the race that weekend, Bellof clocked a 6:25.91. Moers wouldn't divulge anything else about the Project One 'Ring attempt, but Autocar says AMG has studied both of Bellof's lap records in detail, and the biggest challenge to making the dream come true is "finding the right driver."

The Porsche 956 and the AMG Project One have a few things in common. The Project One exists as a result of Formula 1, Porsche used a 956 chassis as testbed for the TAG-branded F1 engine that would power McLaren to three F1 Driver's Championships and two Constructors Championships. The 956 and Project One specialize in aero; the 956 was one of the first Group C racers to employ ground effects aero, the even sleeker Project One will generate aero downforce equal to half the car's body weight. Regarding technology transfer from racing to road cars, the 1982 Porsche 956 switched to digital fuel injection that used less fuel but maintained horsepower and increased torque, and the 1983 Porsche 956 was the first race car to use a double-clutch transmission. The Project One represents the wholesale transfer of F1 tech to road use.

Where the two differ greatly are amenities and power. The 956 needed "the strength of a bear and a lot of courage" to drive, and Bellof's 956 made around 630 hp in its most powerful guise from a 2.5-liter, twin-turbo V6. Moers said the 1.6-liter V6 hybrid power unit in the Project One is already showing 1,000 horsepower on the dyno, and will probably come in somewhere closer to 1,100 hp by the time customers take delivery.

That sounds like plenty of firepower to lay on the target, but there's a reason Bellof's record has stood for so long that some believe it won't ever be broken. The 956 was so fast that when Bellof's teammate, Derek Bell, ran a practice lap with camera equipment for a TV segment, Bell did a 6:47 — and got passed by a screaming Jacky Ickx on a qualifying lap in another 956. No one's been within 30 seconds of Bellof's qualifying time since 1983.

If AMG does find "the right driver" and the Project One is the right car, said driver will not only cut a fat hunk of time off the nearest comparable benchmark, that of the McLaren P1 Prototype, he (or she) will shame everything else out there. In a car with an airbag, infotainment system, and a phone charger. Stay tuned.

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AMG Project One could claim Nurburgring lap time record, says AMG boss originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Mar 2018 13:35:00 EST.