Given the fine margins that separated Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton for much of the 2016 Formula 1 season, it was only fitting that the race for the drivers’ championship went down to the final lap of the season.
Despite Hamilton’s best efforts to push Rosberg back into the clutches of the oncoming Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, the Briton’s reign as F1 world champion ended on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.
Rosberg is F1’s 33rd champion, and emulates his father, Keke, who won the title back in 1982. After three years in Hamilton’s shadow, Rosberg is finally on top of the world.
Debriefing following a frantic final race of the season, Will Buxton brings you all of the news and interviews in the last edition of Paddock Pass in 2016.
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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