Matt Watson drove the Mercedes-AMG One for the first time on the Nurburgring. Beyond the joy of driving a street car with a F1 engine as Watson put it, he was faced with a technical problem. Mercedes engineers explain what happened.
The start button is like in AMG models. The car starts in EV mode powered by the two front engines of 163 HP each. And then the V6 engine starts. Matt Watson follows Bernd Schneider, former DTM grand champion in the Mercedes-AMG GT black series in front.
The brakes feel more like a street car, even though it’s both a street and race car. The engine is absolutely gorgeous, it responds so spontaneously because the electrically driven turbine reacts instantly. The car feels light and very stable. This first lap was in Hybrid mode where the suspension is quite soft and supple for this kind of car.
Now the settings change. Put it in Strat2 mode or Qualifying mode, which is pretty much all out. It’s harder to get in and out of than the Aston Martin Valkyrie. Matt Watson couldn’t find the air conditioning and didn’t do voice control either but both exist. The air-conditioning menu is hidden in the multimedia system.
At 10:20 Bernd Schneider gets behind the wheel in Race mode. When the battery is too full sometimes the engine stops, but during this lap the engine stopped again even though the battery was no longer full. The battery also charges from the thermal engine if you keep the V6 engine speed up to 6000 rpm. This is the fastest way to charge the battery. In Strat 2 (Qualifying) mode with a charged battery you can complete 2 laps. That’s 2 laps of the Nurburgring GP circuit and not the 20 km long loop. In Race mode the system should manage the battery power all the time.
“We wanted to do 2 laps but the engine stopped at the end of the first lap”, said Matt.
Here is the explanation from Mercedes-AMG One chief engineer”: “If the battery is too full, the F1 MGU-K unit is not designed to be at zero torque for the combustion engine, so there is always energy you have to harvest because the engine MGU-K has to harvest around 50 Nm”. When the battery is full then you have the problem that the energy generated by the MGU-K unit you canot distribute anymore. And Matt Watson jokes saying that he understood that Bernd was not quick enough.
Then Matt Watson gets behind the wheel and the problem occurs again. The chief engineer at Mercedes says it’s probably a software error this time, inherent in a pre-production car. However, Matt manages to complete two laps while also testing the DRS system.
And here is his conclusion:
“People who want to experience an F1 engine but don’t have the skills to drive an F1 car will absolutely love this car.”
“It is actually comfortable, you do have air conditioning and everything a traditional Mercedes offers: multimedia system, the seats are comfortable . Ok, it’s a bit noisy, but you can only use the electric motor for 12 miles. I’m amazed how Mercedes managed to install an f1 engine in a road car. It took 5 years to build it for 2.275 mil euros plus VAT. There will be 275 happy people who will buy this car and will be able to drive an F1 engined car daily which you cannot do for example with an Aston Martin Valkyrie.