Red Bull completes first F1 pitstop in zero gravity

Red Bull may be setting records in Formula 1 with its quick tyre changes, but it's now also become the first team to complete a pitstop in zero gravity.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit sent a crew from its live demo team to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City in Russia to undergo a week of cosmonaut training to prepare for the pitstop.

Using an Ilyushin II-76K training plane, which experiences zero gravity for around 20 seconds when it is put into a parabolic flight at 33,000 feet, the crew successfully changed tyres on an 2005 RB1.

And after a challenging time of preparation and executing the stop, the team admitted that it had been a tougher than expected experience.

"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."

The RB1 was picked because it is much smaller than the current generation of cars so was easier to use inside the tight confines of the plane.

It is also much lighter, which made it easier and more predictable to manoeuvre during the key moments when it had to be strapped down as gravity returned.

Red Bull is not the first F1 team to have put a car through zero gravity. Back in 1999, David Coulthard experienced zero gravity with a McLaren car as part of a promotion for then title sponsor West.

Gallery: Red Bull's zero-G pitstop

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Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing
Author Jonathan Noble
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