One of the knocks on Formula One is that it’s the car more than the driver that wins. That the car’s technology overshadows the driver’s skill. But anyone who makes this kneejerk assessment without any passing knowledge of Formula One forgets one thing – F1 drivers are elite and can drive the wheels off just about anything.
To prove this point, Red Bull, which owns both the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri F1 teams, pitted two-time world champion Max Verstappen against Yuki Tsunoda in monster trucks. A modern F1 car has a low center of gravity, weighs about 800 kilograms, or about 1,760 pounds, and has a small 1.6-liter engine that produces around 1,000 horsepower. It uses aerodynamics for speed and goes from 0 to 100 mph and back to 0 in less than five seconds.
By comparison, a monster truck has an extremely high center of gravity, so tipping over is a serious risk. Their large V8 engines make about 500 horsepower; Each wheel weighs 700 kilograms or about 1,540 pounds. That’s not a typo – each wheel weighs slightly less than a modern F1 car.
The only aerodynamics monster trucks care about are grabbing air when they launch or jump over obstacles. Both Verstappen and Tsunoda are surprised at how loud the trucks are, how bumpy they are to drive, and how much dirt gets flung into the cab going around the track at the bottom of the Erzberg Mine in Austria.
Right off the bat, Tsunoda proves he’s quick, hustling the blue and white Ram truck around the course in 58.3 seconds. It’s an impressive time, but Verstappen is faster, turning a lap in a shade over 55 seconds. It doesn’t matter what you put the two-time world champion in; whether it’s an F1 car, monster truck, or Honda HR-V, he’s going to be fast.
In addition to standing atop the F1 world, Red Bull has mastered the art of publicity on social media. Its YouTube channel features all kinds of extreme sports and puts its F1 drivers in interesting predicaments like offroading an F1 car in Australia to herd cattle or commuting from New York to Miami.
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