Jamie Whincup and the Red Bull Holden Racing Team have combined to land the first blow on the streets of Newcastle, with the seven-time champion ousting Cameron Waters and teammate Shane van Gisbergen in a hotly-contested Practice 2.
Whincup launched to P1 late in the 30-minute session to set a session-best 1:10.3173s – but Waters’ #5 Monster Energy Mustang was just 0.0057s down the road, with van Gisbergen a further 0.0549s down.
The top eight were separated by a scant 0.1301s, with Practice 1 fast man Scott McLaughlin fourth in the session, just 0.0666s down on Whincup’s lap.
David Reynolds – who brought out an early red flag due to an off – was fifth in the #9 Penrite Racing ZB Commodore, ahead of Mark Winterbottom (#18 IRWIN Racing ZB Commodore), James Courtney (#22 Walkinshaw Andretti United) and Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power Racing Mustang).
Todd Hazelwood continued his strong Friday pace to drop the #35 SS Signs ZB Commodore into ninth, with Lee Holdsworth (#5 The Bottle-O Racing Mustang) rounding out the top 10.
Red Bull have beaten world records for F1 pit stops on the ground and now they have taken to changing wheels at speed while weightless.
Using the team’s first-ever F1 car, the RB1 from 2005, a pit crew set to work in the challenging and unique conditions of zero-gravity at an altitude of nearly 33,000 feet in an Ilyushin Il-76 MDK cosmonaut training plane above the skies of Russia.
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With the help of the Russian space agency at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, the mechanics, car and film crew took multiple fights in the plane’s fuselage after training across a week with filming reduced to 15 seconds per take.
“Each flight consisted of a series of parabolas, with the aircraft climbing at a 45° angle, then falling in a ballistic arc, to produce a period of weightlessness of around 22 seconds before the next climb,” explained Red Bull.
Support team chief mechanic Joe Robinson said: “It pushed us harder than I thought it would. 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.”
Red Bull’s pit crew have beaten the record for F1’s fastest pit stop on three occasions this season, most recently in last week’s Brazilian GP with a rapid time of 1.82s.
This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.