Lewis Hamilton may have put one hand on his fourth Formula 1 drivers’ title by winning Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, but that did not stop the Mercedes driver from taking a moment to admire a rather special piece of jewelry that appeared on the podium at Suzuka.
Hamilton stormed to his eighth win of the season with a commanding display in Japan, extending his championship lead to 59 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with just 100 left to play for this season.
Having completed a memorable IndyCar season that saw him win the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport, Sato was on hand in Japan as an ambassador for Honda at its home grand prix.
Sato got the chance to take a run-out in Honda RA300 car that won the 1967 Italian Grand Prix on both Saturday and Sunday at Suzuka before conducting the podium interviews with the top three finishers.
Hamilton immediately was interested in Sato’s Indy 500 ring, saying: “Wow, you got some bling! Where’s this from? I love that! I need that ring!”
Sato let Hamilton try it on later in the podium ceremony, with the Briton wanting to see “if it’s worth me going and doing” the ‘500.
As impressed as he was by the ring, do not expect Hamilton to appear at the Brickyard in the future, as he has long-stated his desire to only race in F1 and quit motorsport once his time in the series is over.
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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