Looking for the ideal racing line with a low-level flight

Aerobatic Track Preview: Dario Costa flies and F1 legend David Coulthard commentates.

The 4.318 kilometres, ten challenging turns and 65 metres elevation difference of the Red Bull Ring were taken in from a unique perspective ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix by Dario Costa, a member of the Flying Bulls and former Red Bull Air Race Pilot – with some vertical turning manoeuvres included. The Italian needed just around 60 seconds for his flight around the circuit. David Coulthard, F1 Legend and 2001 Spielberg winner – provided expert insights into the key sections of the circuit. Here is the spectacular lap of the Red Bull Ring from a bird’s-eye view:

Costa: “Like a plane on wheels!”

“There is no better location for doing this kind of flight over a racing circuit than the Red Bull Ring. The big altitude differences and the location amid this spectacular landscape makes it unique. It was the most challenging low-level flight I have ever done, I really had to fly the plane like a car to remain above the asphalt. When it comes to aerodynamics and the laws of flying, F1 has a lot to offer. The cars are almost like planes on four wheels!”

Red Bull Ring © Projekt Spielberg

Turn 1 – Niki Lauda turn.

The spacious braking zones at the Red Bull Ring give drivers the chance to make bold overtaking moves, for instance at the Nika Lauda turn right at the start, which leaves the racers having to slam into the brakes to take the 90-degree turn. The slope can cause drivers to brake too late, but if they do that, they are likely to head over the kerb. Braking too early can allow opponents to stream right past! If you can find the perfect braking point, you can exit the turn in fourth gear to keep your opponents at bay in the uphill section that follows.

Turn 2 and 3 – from low revs to top speed.

Turn 2 might look harmless but Formula 1 drivers approach it at full blast in eighth gear travelling at over 320 km/h uphill, and they then have to hoist their cars suddenly back to just 70 km/h by the apex of turn 3 with some dramatic braking. The engine drops down to the low revs of second gear. The slowest turn at the Red Bull Ring and highest point at the circuit requires another clean line in order to get up to a top speed again on the long Schönberg straight – one of the fastest sections at the Austrian Grand Prix circuit at around 330 km/h and one of three DRS zones.

Turn 4 and 5 – two right turns.

Tricky: the steep braking zone going into turn 4 leaves the rear of the car dancing nervously, as the braking pressure constantly changes. The turn itself is taken in third gear at a little over 100 km/h and is followed by short shifting up to seventh gear and an acceleration up to 270 km/h. At the apex of turn 5 it‘s all about preparing for the double left ahead.

Turn 6 and 7 – left again finally.

The tyres have had little business turning left since the start, and their temperature is therefore low. The track drops off too, and you can‘t even see the exit to the long turn 6 when you turn into it, but you know there is a perilous bed of gravel behind it. After a short acceleration there is no time to get over the giddy sensation you might be feeling as the drivers have to take on the late apex of the seventh curve blindly.

Turn 8 – accelerating up to the kerb.

The drivers only go up a gear as they change direction, but they accelerate up to 260 km/h and have to position their cars so that they don’t drift too far on the exit to the turn. The kerb can be easily clipped here.

Rindt and final turn 10 – last chance for a win.

After a short straight, the rear starts shaking again as the car approaches the Rindt turn as the drivers need all the faith they have to go into the turn with a blind exit in seventh gear at 240 km/h. Time to take one more deep breath as it goes up to the final turn of the Red Bull Ring and onto the 626-metre final straight as the third DRS zone allows you to give your all to win!

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