Formula 1 and IndyCar legend Juan Pablo Montoya achieves 41.96 second time from standstill to 400km/h and back to standstill – and Bugatti promises more records to come

Bugatti Chiron: 0-400-0 km/h in 42 seconds!
Bugatti Chiron: 0-400-0 km/h in 42 seconds!

A Bugatti Chiron has achieved a record-breaking 0-400-0 km/h time of just 41.96 seconds, the fastest time ever reached and officially measured for this driving manoeuvre for a production vehicle throughout the world.

The record-breaking drive took place at the Volkswagen Group’s Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany with Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, two-time winner of the Indy 500 and three-time winner of the Daytona 24 Hours, behind the wheel.

Montoya, who wore his everyday clothes rather than race suit and crash helmet for the record attempt, said afterwards, ‘When you are driving the Chiron for the first time and taking it easy, you cannot imagine how powerful it is. But as soon as you open the throttle, you hear the turbochargers pull up and all this torque comes in, and it just does not stop. It is like a linear power curve to happiness.

‘The Chiron is so incredibly fast it takes your breath away. And its braking is at least as impressive… the car is just so stable and consistent. I feel honoured to be part of this project.’

Bugatti released a description of the run, repeated here in full: ‘Using the Top Speed Key which is typical of Bugatti, Montoya activates the Top Speed mode, which allows a Chiron to drive faster than 380 km/h. A signal is heard. He places his left foot firmly on the brake pedal. Montoya engages first gear and then activates the Launch Control. The digital display beside the speedometer acknowledges the command received and the 1500 horses wake up. On your marks!

‘Montoya presses the accelerator to the limit with his right foot. The 8 litre W16 engine runs up to 2800rpm. The powerful turbochargers speed up and there is no doubt that this car is straining at the leash. Get set! Montoya releases the brake pedal. Go! The four wheels of the Chiron receive equal power and grip the tarmac with full force. The car shoots forward, developing maximum torque. The traction control prevents the wheels from spinning. In combination with ESC (Electronic Stability Control), it catapults the Chiron forward, keeping it firmly on track. Full acceleration. The time is running. The world flies past.

‘The incredible acceleration of the Chiron, its absolutely linear power curve and the enormous torque especially in the low engine speed range are the result of the two-stage turbocharging system developed by Bugatti especially for this vehicle. This is one of the outstanding technical features of the Chiron powertrain. To ensure maximum acceleration from a standing start without any “turbo lag”, the Chiron initially moves off with two turbochargers in operation. The other two units are activated from about 3800rpm.

‘The new high-performance tyres, once again developed by Bugatti together with its strategic tyre partner Michelin, now face extreme loading. At a speed of 400 km/h, centrifugal force converts one gram of rubber into 3600 grams. A tyre valve that only weighs 18.3 grams when stationary develops a hefty force of approximately 45 kilograms at that speed.

‘Only 32.6 seconds and just 2621 metres later, the Chiron reaches the 400 km/h mark. With extremely fast reactions, Juan Pablo Montoya steps firmly on the brakes. Only 0.8 seconds after operation of the brakes, the rear wing, with a width of 1.50 metres, moves up to an angle of 49 degrees, forming an air brake that decelerates the Chiron extremely effectively. In the Top Speed mode at 400 km/h, the airbrake boosts the aerodynamic downforce on the rear axle by about 900 kg. That corresponds to the kerb weight of a Golf II. During full braking with a Chiron from 400 km/h, the force on vehicle and driver is about 2g, similar to that experienced during the launch of a space shuttle.

‘The brakes of the Chiron, with their special carbon ceramic brake discs (diameter of 420mm at the front, 400mm at the rear) and brake calipers developed especially for Bugatti with eight titanium pistons on each wheel at the front and six at the rear, develop absolutely peak performance. After an incredible 9.3 seconds and 491 metres, the Chiron comes to a halt.’

In 2018, Bugatti plans to set a new world speed record in excess of the top speed of 431.072 km/h recorded with the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport in 2010. ‘I hope Bugatti will invite me to their world record run with the Chiron. At any rate, I’m saving the date in my calendar,’ says Juan Pablo Montoya.

Gallery: Bugatti Chiron: 0-400-0 km/h in 42 seconds!