Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2024

Video: World’s fastest drone chases Verstappen’s RB20 around Silverstone

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Red Bull have revealed stunning new footage of Max Verstappen in action at Silverstone in their latest car.

They employed a team of elite drone builders to create a bespoke drone capable of pursuing the RB20 around one of the quickest circuits on the Formula 1 calendar.

Pilot Ralph Hogenbirk flew the drone, which is capable of up to 350kph, during Red Bull’s filming day at Silverstone earlier this month. The machine can accelerate twice as fast as an F1 car, hitting 300kph in four seconds.

“I never thought I’d see a drone going that quick just for camera footage,” said Verstappen.

“I didn’t know it was following me whilst driving in the wet, and it was very close to me in some places. I was really surprised at how quickly it could keep up, and also how close it could get in the corners. It gives a bit of a different perspective to watching Formula 1.”

In order to achieve such performance, the drone’s battery life had to be cut to just three minutes.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2024
The drone pursued Verstappen’s factory-fresh RB20
“This is a special drone because this is the only one with a fitted camera and goes this fast,” explained Hogenbirk, of constructors Dutch Racing Gods. He controlled the drone using live images relayed to a headset, with hand controls to manoeuvre it and a separate foot pedal to adjust the camera angle.

“It’s fully custom-built, it’s one-of-a-kind that we have developed,” he said. “It is a very challenging project to create a drone that’s fast enough to keep up and keep the car in full frame, whilst capturing the shot in an interesting way.

“This was definitely the craziest shoot I’ve done so far.”

While rain affected Red Bull’s filming day, Hogenbirk also shot footage of reserve driver Liam Lawson in action at the track in dry weather at the wheel of last year’s RB19.

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Video: Drone footage of Verstappen’s RB20

Pictures: Red Bull film RB20 using drone

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Video: World’s fastest camera drone versus F1 car

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Video: World’s fastest drone chases Verstappen’s RB20 around Silverstone”

  1. absolutely stunning; I loved it.

    PS you can also clearly see that a lot of the spray comes from the floor. Thus wheel covers won’t help all that much.

    1. I would love to have footage like this following the 3 top drivers in qualifying or the race simultaneously.

    2. The last thing I want to see in F1 would be wheel covers, but you can clearly see around 50% of the spray comes from the wheels. Especially at high speeds, when visibility is especially important.
      That being said, I don’t think there is any possible way to get rid of the spray coming from the tires. You could encapsulate them entirely, leaving just the small contact patch near the tarmac, but they are still gonna push water out of their way and it has to go somewhere. Even if they manage to capture it all and divert it all somewhere, it is still gonna end up in the airstream and pushed up in the air.

  2. If that thing was on Horner’s desk, it clears up the origin of the complaint against him ;)

  3. I love that the video gave us a small amount of insight into creating the drone.

    The shots are also great: it would be amazing if they could clear this for live races from a safety perspective. (Easier said than done with spectators… but someday!)

  4. The Roman Empire used to pull distraction stunts like this when the Caesar was embattled in the scandal of the day. This is the modern day equivalent and my eyes are firmly on Horner’s downfall.

    1. @jazz so when they started designing the thing a year ago they already knew about Horner?

      1. @fer-no65 I’m gonna say yeah, with tongue firmly pushed in cheek! They know what the sly dog’s like, it was probably an even bet!!

  5. WOW! that’s spectacular!

    On one hand it’s sad it rained because the car could go faster but on the other hand getting to see all that spray and the car moving so violently in the slow corners was even more spectacular.

  6. Incredible just incredible I watched it 3 times.

  7. The sense of speed you got for the Liam Lawson lap was amazing

    1. Somehow a long shot of a Pirelli or Aramco bridge in the background doesn’t capture the immense energy of these cars when they go, and stop.

  8. stunning, in that footage in the wet you get a real sense of the skill involved in making sure the car doesn’t flying off the track!

  9. That longer Youtube video on high resolution was truly amazing. I wish the Dutch Racing Gods all the best, they have really raised the bar. Next time, how about Spa, or even better yet Monaco!

  10. How’s the skill of the drone driver! Wow
    No easy feat driving anything that fast while dodging bridges, walls and watching the driver via a screen!. Hats off.

    1. I would love to see it used in WRC, that would be something.

  11. I’d happily watch single-lap qualifying if it was covered like this. Not sure the drones, and particularly the poor old pilot, are quite ready for 20 of them though!

  12. Okay. Starting at 1:08 in the video is either completely enhanced or the perfect place to put the microphone to pick up the sound of these cars! If it’s real, can someone please send that clip to the audio team for race weekends!

    1. The X (Twitter) video that Keith posted.

  13. So are we going to get 22 (ooops, I mean 20 – Sorry Andretti – maybe they can use your for the safety and medical cars) of these circulating the track during a GP?

    1. I don’t think that even Bernie would go for guided missiles during a gp.

  14. Nice to see a custom made 3D printed drone, he truly must feel like flying. Totally immersed in flying the drone FPV. Soo fast and nimble.

    Again leave it to the Dutch!

    Hats off Ralph Hogenbrik & Dutch Drone Gods

  15. Coventry Climax
    28th February 2024, 14:51

    The DDG have done a great job, I must say, and the footage is very nice indeed.
    For it to change the way people watch F1 though, like Verstappen mentions? That would require either sufficent battery power to last for longer shots, or multiple drones.
    LiPo’s (Lithium Polymere) are the battery type currently in use for RC (radio control) planes and drones and such. They are relatively light with a high energy density, but still too heavy for prolonged speeds like these. They take quite long to recharge too, so that would likely mean having multiple drones; a sufficient number to be able to film the required time, with them taking off and landing in sequence, with some filming while others are maybe being serviced to receive freshly charged batteries.
    For high speeds, they require high voltage, which is achieved by having multiple cells in series, called 1S, 2S, 3S, etc., for the number of cells in series. I suspect these speeds require at least 4S, but 6S would not surprise me. With a nominal 3.7V per cell, that means they run on 14.8 Volts for 4S, or 22.2 Volts for 6S. Compare that to having four or six gastanks, providing fuel simultaneously: Lots of power just happens to require a lot of fuel. The size of the tank is expressed in mAh, same as for your phone or camera. Having 4 of them in series with sufficient ‘contents’ makes them quite heavy quite quickly.
    And then there’s the safety aspect; there’s always a change of failure, either mechanical or pilot error, and as an F1 driver, you do not want one of those to crash into you at those speeds. And it’s not just the weight: Those batteries are prone to catch fire or even explode when damaged, e.g. in a crash. Look up ‘LiPo fire’ on youtube for examples.

    From an aero engineering’s energy point of view, a drone may not be a good choice, as part of the power or thrust is directed downwards to keep the thing in the air. For an airplane or jet, the thrust is mainly used for propulsion forward and the wing design converts the speed to lift. Energetically, that’s much more efficient, though possibly not as quick to change direction. Although thrust vectoring in fighter jets does an amazing job. The RC world uses ‘ducted fans’ as equivalents of jet engines, basically that’s a small propellor within a tubular housing.

    1. Coventry Climax
      28th February 2024, 15:31

      3:35 gives an interesting screenshot for the prototype drone:
      4 minutes of battery being switched on (‘armed’, which is not the same as flight time)
      242 km/h topspeed
      24,23 Volt (that’s 6S. The 3.7 per cell is nominal, meaning it’s more when fully charged, and less when running empty)
      264 Ampere maximum asked from the battery
      1430 mah used

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