REMEMBER WHEN you were a kid, and you’d proclaim the latest Lamborghini superior to the equivalent Ferrari without having seen, let alone driven, either? Well, despite never having laid eyes on an Aston Martin Valkyrie, I can tell you that deep into fifth gear through Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps’s legendary Eau Rouge, the car kicks so much sand in the face of a P1, the McLaren’s nothing but a mound on the beach.
This story originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Road & Track.
While we can’t yet drive the real Valkyrie, Aston invited us to try the car on a simulator at the office of Red Bull Racing—a partner on the project—north of London. The cockpit of the simulator is a genuine Red Bull F1 tub, so my feet (left on the brake, right on the gas) rest almost at eye level. “The Valkyrie’s driving position is very similar,” says Aston’s chief test driver, Chris Goodwin.
We establish a baseline by driving a model that’s said to be a composite of existing hypercars. It’s hard work, a combination of my limited knowledge of Spa and the simulator’s poor sensation of speed. An overcooked corner doesn’t feel fast, so you end up going in hot, suffering terrifying oversteer. You feel like you’re crawling up to the slower turns, but you’re still too fast, so the front end washes wide
In real life, cars like the P1 aren’t difficult to drive on track. But here, two laps in, I’ve written off $4 million in hypercars. Eventually, I put in a couple of cleanish laps. Time for the Valkyrie.
The difference is night and day; the Aston is out of this world. The 1160-hp hybridized but naturally aspirated V-12 screams up to its 11,000-rpm redline so quickly, you can’t keep up with the gearchanges. Under braking, the car sheds 50 mph as if it were losing five.
The standout point is how much easier the Valkyrie is to drive. Through the quick sections where the rival model felt as if it were wearing retreads, the Valkyrie is locked down. The car simply goes, stringing huge sequences of curves together in one graceful, flowing snake of wrist flicks.
Aston has yet to release performance numbers, but the simulated Valkyrie can see 200 mph on Spa’s main straight. But the killer number is 25. That’s how many seconds quicker the Valkyrie is compared with its composite-model rival, putting the Aston in the same performance territory as a Le Mans prototype. If the real car drives this much better and goes this much faster than the previous generation of hypercars, the Valkyrie will be the talk of the schoolyard decades after it’s gone.