Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen has taken to a race track for the first time in an F1 car in 2022, but admittedly one with a difference.
In a spectacular display of car control, Verstappen was centre stage alongside former European Ice Racing Champion Franky Zorn in Red Bull’s latest extreme F1 car stunt at the short ice racing circuit at Zell am See Airport in Austria.
Nestled between Kitzsteinhorn Glacier and Grossglockner Mountain, the GP Ice Race circuit is renowned for amateur and professional ice races watched by thousands of spectators in winter. Verstappen certainly didn’t hold back, sliding the re-liveried 2.4L V8 2011 showcar alongside Zorn on his speedway motorbike under the winter darkness.
Although he’d never driven an F1 car on ice before, the Dutchman looked at home on the ice, with only the ultra-thin Pirelli spiked tyres for protection from the solid ice walls lining the track. “This was my first time on the ice with a Formula One car and I’ve been really looking forward to it,” admitted Verstappen.
“It was very interesting and it’s quite slippery, so you have to be careful. Everything is very cold, including the brakes, and racing cars are obviously not designed to drive on the ice, which makes it even more difficult, but it was a lot of fun.”
He also sported the number ‘1’ for the very first time, a number which hasn’t been seen in Formula 1 full-time since Sebastian Vettel’s 2014 season at Red Bull. That was incidentally Red Bull’s last year as reigning champions as Vettel captured his fourth successive title in 2013 before new regulations ended the team’s domination.
Verstappen is keen to make sure his new number stays on the front of his car in future. “How many times do you get the opportunity to swap numbers? And number one is the best number out there, so for me, it was very straightforward to pick it. Hopefully, number 33 doesn’t come back next year,” he joked.
He also spoke on the subject of the all-new RB18, Red Bull’s yet-to-be-revealed machine to compete in the 2022 season. “It looks a bit different, but at the end of the day it’s still a Formula One car. At testing we can do a lot of laps and get a lot of information about the car, which is important. I’m looking forward to it,” summed up Verstappen.
Here’s some photos and video:
The 2022 Laureus Sports nominations see three motor sport nominations once again, but two different names and categories from last year. Mercedes have been nominated for Team of the year for the second year running, with F1 also featuring on the World Sports Person of the Year category via Verstappen after the Red Bull driver took his first world championship.
The third one is from MotoGP with Marquez featuring in Comeback of the Year category. If the Dutchman were to win, he will become the fourth F1 driver to win same following in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel having landed the crown.
He did however receive a nomination in 2016 for breakthrough athlete that year but didn’t win it. For 2022, he is up against Caeleb Dressel the US swimmer, Kenyan Marathon hero Eliud Kipchoge , Tennis legend Novak Djokovic, Polish scoring supremo Robert Lewandowski and American Footballer Tom Brady.
The team category sees Mercedes up against the Men’s Argentina and Italy teams from football side coupled with Barcelona women’s football team. The other two nominations are the Chinese Olympic Diving team and NBA Champs Milwaukee Bucks. This is the German’s F1 outfit’s eighth straight nomination where they won it in 2018 to become to third team after Renault and Brawn GP to do so.
The third Motor Sport nomination is the 8-time MotoGP champion Marquez but it’s for the larger cause of his return to the sport and secure a win in the German GP in June, having being out of action since the opening race of the 2020 season. His competition is Dutch Olympic cycling heroine Annemiek Van Vlueten, Diver Tom Daley, cycling sprint legend Mark Cavendish, Skateboarder Sky Brown and US Gymnast Simone Biles.
The above is written by Danny Herbert and the below by Neil Farrell
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