Red Bull’s Formula 1 mechanics are used to setting records. At the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, the team set the fastest ever pit stop in F1 history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds. Now, they have taken things to the next level.
The team’s mechanics have completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop. With the help of the Russian space agency Roscomos, and aboard an Ilyushin Il-76 MDK cosmonaut training plane, the team completed the task on a 2005-spec Red Bull RB1.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” says Support Team chief mechanic Joe Robinson said. “You realize 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.”
Support Team coordinator Mark Willis said: “My stomach was fine – but it felt like my head was going to explode. It took two or three runs to understand what was happening. At first, I couldn’t think straight. My brain couldn’t compute what was happening… It took two or three parabolic flights to be able to think properly again. I’ve been involved in some special events from slaloming the car in Kitzbühel, to the salt lakes of Argentina, we’ve been to some strange places and done some strange things – but ultimately this is the oddest – but also the most special because there’s simply nothing comparable. You might get a second of the effect on a rollercoaster – but to have that sensation for 20-25 seconds and to work on the car in that time, it’s out of this world.”
Main image: Denis Klero/Red Bull Content Pool