Every half-decade or so, an automaker with a background in motorsport touts a new high-performance, hyper-exclusive vehicle imbued with “Formula 1 technology.” To be honest, my brain’s been kind of trained to ignore that statement when it appears in press releases. It doesn’t really mean anything anymore, now that every modern hypercar incorporates electrification in some manner. However, I’ll let Mercedes-AMG have it this time, because the production version of its Project One revealed Tuesday genuinely seems like the closest anyone has gotten, or will get, to translating modern F1 tech to the road.
I know this because I can barely understand it. At the heart of the AMG One, as it’s now called (they’ve dropped the “Project” part), is “a highly integrated and intelligently networked unit comprising one hybrid, turbocharged combustion engine with a total of four electric motors,” per Mercedes’ release. Just like in F1, the internal-combustion unit is a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6. In the AMG One, it alone is responsible for 574 horsepower. That’s a smidge over half of the car’s overall output.
And then there are the four electric motors. “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.” The one connected to the turbo is what’s called an MGU-H in F1 speak, and while it’s a part of existing F1 power units, it will actually be dropped from the rulebook for 2026 onward in the interest of mitigating development costs. From Mercedes’ release:
The high-revving power unit is boosted by a high-tech turbocharger. The exhaust gas turbine and compressor turbine are positioned at a distance from each other and connected by a shaft. This allows a lower installation position for the turbocharger. On the shaft is an approx. 90 kW electric motor. Electronically controlled, this drives the turbocharger shaft directly, accelerating the compressor wheel up to 100,000 rpm before the exhaust gas flow takes over. The Formula 1 designation for this unit is MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit Heat).
What’s more, the surplus energy generated from the MGU-H can be routed to “the high-voltage lithium-ion battery or fed to the electric front axle or the electric motor (MGU-K = Motor Generator Unit Kinetic) on the combustion engine.”
The MGU-K is, of course, the other electrical element of the power unit you tend to hear about in F1, connected to the crankshaft. In the AMG One, it contributes another 163 HP, with the capability to harvest waste energy. Coupled with the 122 HP of the MGU-H and the combined 326 HP of the two electric motors on the front axle — appropriately named the MGU-FL and -FR — the AMG One achieves its total output: 1,063 HP. (When you add those numbers up you actually get 1,185 HP, but the official value is a little more conservative than summing the max output of each component individually.)
One of the reasons it took AMG five years to drop the “Project” portion of the Project One was the European Union’s ever-tightening emissions regulations. There are those dreaded gas particulate filters enthusiasts hate so much, in addition to other hardware that cleans exhaust while ensuring Mercedes’ power targets are met:
Added to this is the very complex and effective exhaust gas cleaning system with four preheated metal catalytic converters, two ceramic catalytic converters and two petrol particulate filters. The four heating elements with a combined output of 16 kW make it possible to comply with the EU6 exhaust emission limits under real driving conditions (RDE). The exhaust gas cleaning system is also backpressure-optimised to avoid power losses. This also applies to the large rear silencer made of lightweight titanium.
In some aspects AMG One of course goes beyond what F1 allows, as with those front axle-mounted electric motors delivering all-wheel drive. The car can also be driven on electric power alone for a distance of 11 miles.
Firing it up is a whole process too: the front axle motors start first alongside the catalytic converters, which need to be preheated before the combustion engine can join the party.
Once that’s all done, there are no less than six modes for the driver to choose from that markedly transform the driving experience. In “Race Safe,” for example, the engine is only tapped when required. Two modes intended for the circuit only firm up the suspension and incorporate active aero, while the optimal one — Strat 2— sounds an awful lot like the “party mode” teams opt for in qualifying:
Race Safe: standard program with on-demand hybrid driving mode and all-electric start-up. Only when higher power is required does the combustion engine switch on.
Race: hybrid driving mode with special charging strategy. The combustion engine runs continuously and can charge the high-voltage battery more so that full electric power is always available.
EV: all-electric driving.
Race Plus (race track only): active aerodynamics, chassis lowering by 37 mm (front)/30 mm (rear), firmer chassis tuning, special performance management.
Strat 2 (race track only): active aerodynamics, even firmer suspension tuning and vehicle lowering by 37 mm (front)/30 mm (rear). Full power from all motors as in Formula 1 qualifying.
Individual: settings according to personal preferences for the road modes.
The interior reminds you of that association with F1 engineering, chiefly through that formula-style wheel and its many inputs. There’s something awfully weird about seeing machined buttons marked “DRS” and “PASS” shoulder-to-shoulder with switches for media volume and a key to summon a voice assistant.
I will never fully understand the AMG One, and that’s OK. Mercedes even refuses to provide an overall torque figure, marking “specification not possi
ble due to complex drivetrain” in its specs chart. That’s fair enough; with electrification, we’re approaching a point where numbers are a game of diminishing returns anyway. You’ll get to see the AMG One in motion for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this month.