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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Top F1 Drivers Rip Hovercrafts Across Vegas Desert For Epic Race

Red Bull F1 Formula 1 Ricciardo Verstappen Tsunoda Perez
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool

As Formula 1 takes over Sin City for the Las Vegas Grand Prix this weekend, four famous F1 drivers teamed up to race hovercrafts in a remote Nevada desert. Max Verstappen and Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez of Red Bull Oracle faced off against Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo of AlphaTauri in an epic three-part battle across alien country.

Red Bull F1 Formula 1 Ricciardo Verstappen Tsunoda Perez
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool

The challenge was split into three events:

  • Rescue Mission
    • Teams took turns ripping through an obstacle course in pursuit of a lockbox. They raced to the lockbox at the end of the course, executed a drive switch and raced back to the start.
    • Verstappen and Checo won.
  • Crop Circles
    • Each driver had 30 seconds to complete as many “donuts” around a set of pillars as possible. Verstappen even hung his foot out of the hovercraft to get tighter and faster circles. It didn’t work.
    • Tsunoda and Ricciardo won.
  • The Final Race
    • This was a standard head-to-head race. The two teams ripped through a slalom course one driver at a time. They switched drives between the first and second laps.
    • Ricciardo narrowly beat Verstappen in the first lap. Tsunoda narrowly defeated Checo in the second.
    • Tsunoda and Ricciardo won.

By taking two out of three events, Tsunoda and Ricciardo won the entire afternoon.

Everybody had a blast, even though the hovercrafts took some getting used to!

It’s fun to be out here in the desert ahead of the Las Vegas GP. I think the hovercrafts look really cool and they were really fun to drive. They were slower than I thought they would be, but I suppose you’re floating over the ground. The challenges are fun, especially when you get to do it together as a team with Checo, also with Scuderia AlphaTauri. This series has been fun this year, we’ve driven lots of different vehicles all over the world, I think that makes it beautiful.

— Max Verstappen

Checo ate more dirt than he might have liked.

I’ve seen them, but I’ve never driven a hovercraft before, so it’s my first time…and I ended up eating a lot of sand, so I don’t need lunch for today. They collapse and go into the floor when you unbalance them, so it was quite challenging – you have to think a lot while driving them

— Sergio Pérez

Tsunoda found it especially difficult to get a hang of the vehicle.

I didn’t know how the vehicles behave. It’s actually a lot of fun, lots of drifting, but at the same time you have to control the throttle precisely to make it turn quickly. If you release too much throttle and touch too much ground, you stop. So, there’s fine tuning and that makes it difficult, but overall, it’s really, really fun.

— Yuki Tsunoda

Ricciardo loved that he and his friends were able to take a break from the race-week stress.

On a race week we have the race and that’s our primary focus, and on track everything’s so competitive, so to spend some time with not only Yuki, but Max and Checo and to be out here in the desert in an environment where we’re all just having a laugh – these are probably the best workdays we can get.

— Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull’s ‘(Un)serious Race Series’ has sent these four drivers all over the world for a variety of unique challenges: from mini jet boats in Miami, to 500-horsepower mega trucks in Austria, to Kei trucks in Japan and now Renegade Hovercrafts in Nevada. It’s pretty cool to see some of the world’s greatest drivers step out of their comfort zones and let it rip!

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