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Alonso: Austin performance among the best of my career

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Fernando Alonso believes that his performance in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix was one of the best of his career despite finishing outside of the points.

Alonso has struggled to find any kind of form in 2015 thanks to the deficiencies of the Honda power unit in his McLaren car, scoring just 11 points.

However, damp conditions at the Circuit of The Americas throughout Sunday’s race helped to neutralize the field and limit the power advantage of the other teams, giving Alonso a more level playing field to fight on.

The Spaniard managed to fight his way up into the points, running as high as fifth before an issue on his power unit caused him to lose time in the closing stages of the race.

Alonso eventually crossed the line 11th, losing P10 and the final points-paying position on the last lap, but was delighted with his performance at COTA.

“This was one of the best races of my career,” Alonso said. “To be running one minute behind the penultimate car on lap two, and then be running as high as fifth position with ten laps remaining was quite a feat.

“After such a strong recovery, it was a shame that a mechanical issue in the closing laps put us out of the fight. That meant my feelings after the race were more sad than happy – but we can go away and continue to try to improve these issues.”

Teammate Jenson Button managed to bring home some points for McLaren, recording his best finish of the season in sixth place.

“This was a strategic race today, and, strategy-wise, we did a perfect race,” Button said. “The team should be very happy with what we achieved; we made all the right calls, but still we need to go away and look at our lack of performance.

“In the opening laps, I really enjoyed racing in the drying conditions, and I felt like I was able to make a bit of a difference.

“We got onto slicks before the others, and made the right calls, but, once it was dry and everybody knew where to brake, it became a lot more difficult for us. We just couldn’t match the others’ pace once they all found their feet.

“Nevertheless, it’s great to get some points – and I enjoyed the challenge. We just didn’t have the pace.”

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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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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