Red Bull has completed the first ever zero gravity pitstop, transferring its record breaking talents in F1 to this new, weird and wonderful event.
With tools in hand, the Milton Keynes-based company sent a group of its most talented tyre changers in the form if its live demo team to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaught Training Center to Russia. In Star city – aptly named – the team underwent a week’s worth of training for the pitstop of their lives.
On a Ilyushin II-76K plane made to reach heights where the Earth’s gravity has a minimal effect on it, the team experienced zero gravity for about 20 seconds when they reached a height of 33,000 feet. Here, they raced to change the tyres on the 2005 RB1. This car was built originally by Jaguar, but when Red Bull bought out the company and was raced by them in 2005, with the best result being fourth under the driver David Coulthard.
David Coulthard was actually the first person to experience an F1 car in Zero gravity back in 1999during a promotion with McLaren for its title sponsor West.
Being a Jaguar-based design, it seems to be a strange car to choose for this historic event, but Red Bull chose it due to its small size being able to fit in the plane. It’s also lighter, and with a lower mass, easier to manoeuvre to strap down as the plane returned to the ground.
Once the flight was over, the team admitted that it was a lot tougher than they were expecting.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said support team chief mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realise how much you rely on gravity, when you don’t have any!
“Something as straightforward as tightening a wheelnut becomes very difficult when the car is floating, and the only control you have is through the stiffness of your ankles, tucked into floor straps.
“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo Team has ever done with a show car.”