Can the World's Fastest Camera Drone Keep Up With Max Verstappen in a Red Bull F1 Car?

Max Verstappen checks out the world's fastest camera drone 8 photos
Photo: Red Bull | YouTube
Max Verstappen checks out the world's fastest camera droneDavid Coulthard races the world's fastest camera droneDavid Coulthard races the world's fastest camera droneMax Verstappen races the world's fastest camera droneMax Verstappen races the world's fastest camera droneMax Verstappen races the world's fastest camera droneMax Verstappen checks out the world's fastest camera drone
Meet the world's fastest camera drone ever made. It is capable of keeping up with a Formula 1 car over a full lap at Silverstone. But can it be as fast as three-time World Champion Max Verstappen driving the brand-new RB20?
The F1 season is starting this upcoming weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the race scheduled for Saturday instead of the usual Sunday. This year might bring major changes in the way we look at Formula 1 as Red Bull is working on a new way to show viewers shots from the racetrack. The F1 team partnered up with Dutch Drone Gods (DDG) to create the world's fastest camera drone, capable of following an F1 car over a full lap.

The camera drone has been tested at Silverstone in the United Kingdom. The 3.6-mile (5.8-kilometer) track is not far from the headquarters of rival team Mercedes-AMG Petronas. It is also Mercedes’ testing ground, where Lewis Hamilton and George Russsell lap the track to make sure their racing cars have the best of settings.

The average drone speed is 45 mph (75 kph), while the legal limit, according to the Flight Aviation Administration (FAA), is around 100 mph (161 kph). But there is no way such a drone would be able to keep up with the three-time F1 World Championship title holder, Max Verstappen. During a race, the Dutch racing driver can hit speeds of around 217 mph (350 kph).

This means that DDG needed to rethink the entire design of the drone that would allow it to go as fast as a Formula 1 or even faster if the team wanted to snap shots of the car from the front. Therefore, Red Bull Advanced Technologies gave Ralph Hogenbirk – aka Shaggy – a helping hand, and together, they built the fastest camera drone ever made. It doesn't really look like a drone anymore, but it is shaped like a rocket.

Not only does the drone accelerate like a Formula 1 car, but it also decelerates like one in corners, which puts a lot of strain on its propeller. The team had to eliminate the risk of the drone bursting up in flames at any time because of the immense strain on its system.

Ralph Hogenbirk made his camera drone accelerate from 62 to 186 mph (100 to 300 kph) in just 2 seconds flat, which generates 6G at maximum land. To make it that fast, he had to reduce weight down to a kilogram (2.20 pounds). Ralph controls the drone with the help of a remote control and a foot pedal while staying out of the air turbulences and vortexes that the F1 car creates around it.

To test the capabilities of the drone, the team put former racing driver David Coulthard in a Red Bull car and let him race against the drone. The drone prototype number 1 managed to beat him in a straight line.

Prototype number 2 races reserve driver Liam Lawson. But the team failed to follow the exact route of the F1 car and had to bring it home. The reason why it happened? They just lost signal. On a second attempt, the drone managed to follow Liam to the finish line.

And then they had to race Max in its new RB20, the car that he will drive this season. This time, it's not a prototype, but the Drone 1. They were hoping for a dry lap, but both driver and drone have to face the rain at Silverstone. Everyone seems to be holding their breath until racing car and camera drone cross the finish line.

"It gives a different perspective to watching Formula 1," says Max Verstappen, impressed by the speed of the drone and the high quality of the video that it shot while lapping the Silverstone. Max is sure that this drone will help those watching the races on TV understand how fast an F1 car is actually going.

However, the fastest drone in the world, which is, though, not capable of filming, is the XLR V3 Red, which hit 224 mph (360 kph). The drone was a custom build made by USA engineer Ryan Lademann.

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