The legendary Pau Grand Prix Formula 3 event will get a taste of the future this weekend as two cars from the FIA Formula E series grace the streets of the French circuit.
Pau first played host to a grand prix back in 1933, and has been a race for a variety of different specification cars including Formula 1 (non-championship events), F2, WTCC and International F3000.
In recent years, it has become one of the most prestigious events on the F3 circuit, joining the calendar for the FIA F3 European Championship back in 2012.
However, it will play host to two Formula E cars this weekend as Jerome d’Ambrosio, Mike Parisy and Esteban Ocon complete show-runs for the fans that have made it down to the circuit in the south of France.
It will create a three-weekend run of Formula E action for d’Ambrosio, who finished fourth at the inaugural Monaco ePrix last Saturday. The Frenchman will return to racing at the Berlin ePrix on May 23.
Ocon will step into the car fresh from his first run in a 2015-spec F1 car in Barcelona on Wednesday, when he replaced Pascal Wehrlein at Force India for a test day after the German came down with illness.
In qualifying at Pau, British youngster Jake Dennis secured pole position for all three races on Friday. However, it will only be the winner of Sunday’s race that is officially regarded as the winner of the Pau Grand Prix and will join an illustrious list of victors that includes Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham and Jim Clark.
The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.
With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.
Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.
With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!
“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.”
Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.
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