One-of-a-kind drone outpaces Oracle Red Bull Racing’s RB20

  • Dutch drone racers worked on a drone that could follow an F1 driver for over a year.
  • The fruit of that labour is what is claimed to be the fastest drone ever following World Champion Max Verstappen around Silverstone in the wet.
  • According to former driver David Coulthard, “I’m sure in the not-too-distant future, we’re going to see this as part of our broadcast”.

This week sees the return of Formula 1 for the 2024 season but there has already been a lot of news. News of drivers switching teams, team principals being investigated and team name controversy. So today, ahead of the season starting in Bahrain on Thursday, we bring you some news to wow you.

Current constructors champions Oracle Red Bull Racing enlisted the help of Dutch Drone Gods to film a single-shot video of a drone chasing current World Driver Champion Max Verstappen around Silverstone. This is no easy feat as Formula 1 vehicles can accelerate to 300kmph in around four seconds and a drone that can match that speed for a full lap at Silverstone didn’t exist.

Further to this, the extreme braking means that often a drone will slow down to keep the car in frame only to lose it when the car accelerates.

So Dutch Drone Gods set to work and built a drone that could not only keep up with a Formula 1 car but outpace it as well.

“This is a special drone because this is the only one with a fitted camera and goes this fast. It’s fully custom-built, it’s one-of-a-kind that we have developed. It is a very challenging project to create a drone that’s fast enough to keep up and keep the car in full frame, whilst capturing the shot in an interesting way,” the drone pilot, Ralph Hogenbirk also known as Shaggy FPV, said in a press statement.

Details of the Red Bull Drone 1 seen in Silverstone, Great Britain on February 14, 2024. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool.

“This was definitely the craziest shoot I’ve done so far,” the pilot added.

The shot was captured using an FPV headset which received a low-quality image from the drone allowing Hogenbirk to navigate the twists and turns of Silverstone. To keep the car in frame, a foot pedal was used demanding extreme hand-eye coordination from the pilot so as not to ruin the shot.

The drone team ran several tests using prototypes. The Dutch Drone Gods built several iterations of the drone before enlisting the help of Red Bull’s own engineers to create the Red Bull Drone 1. To acclimatise to the pace of a Formula 1 car, test runs were conducted utilising RB8 and RB19 cars driven by reserve driver Liam Lawson and Grand Prix winner turned broadcaster David Coulthard.

“When you see the big, wide, shots you lose perspective on the speed of the car. There are so many applications to really give the fans the feeling of what it’s like to be in one of these race cars. When you have the drone up close like that then you’re immersed in the whole experience. I’m sure in the not-too-distant future, we’re going to see this as part of our broadcast,” Coulthard commented.

Unfortunately, on the day of filming, the British weather performed as expected and Silverstone was coated in water. This was likely a good chance for Red Bull to test the RB20 in the wet.

Despite the rain, the results are nothing short of spectacular.

Whether we will see drone footage in Formula 1 races anytime soon is a mystery. While there is no denying the shots are spectacular and the sense of speed is unmatched, we suspect the FIA wouldn’t be pleased to see 10 – 20 drones roaming around the circuit, potentially losing power or experiencing some other technical fault and crashing into the track.

For now, we just have some glorious footage of the RB20 racing around the track which you can watch below.

[Image – Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool]


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