Watch This Red Bull Racing F1 Car Tackle A Swiss Mountain Pass
The worst tool for the job, or the best tool?
Like a ferocious animal raised in captivity, an F1 car is completely unequipped to survive on the less-than-perfect roads of the real world. But fortunately for us, that didn't stop Red Bull Racing from sending Formula E champion and Scuderia Torro Rosso reserve driver Sébastien Buemi up a twisty, treacherous mountain pass in their F1-championship-winning RB8 car.
Of course, calling it a car is like calling the space shuttle a glider. F1 race cars are purpose-built machines, made specifically for the high-speed demands of a smooth, flowing track. Everything about it—aerodynamics, engine, suspension—is designed to work best at high speed during a race, not an improvised hillclimb on a cobblestone-paved road. The RB8, driven to 2012 World Championship title by Sebastian Vettel, hails from the final age of naturally-aspirated V-8 engines, in this case a 2.4-liter Renault unit revving to 18,000 RPM.
Having worked as a test driver for Red Bull Racing during that season, Buemi is probably very familiar with the RB8. But chances are he's never driven it on a road like the Tremolastrasse, a 19th century route that snakes up a mountain in southern Switzerland to connect the town of Airolo to the Gotthard Pass. It's 7.9 miles of rough cobblestones heading up to a summit of over 6,000 feet. If the climb wasn't treacherous enough in a rear-wheel-drive race car, the cobblestones are usually slick with melting snow during the summer.
All that combines for one heck of a sketchy climb, but Buemi holds it together as the RB8 skitters and jumps over the massively imperfect road surface. He makes it to the top unscathed, letting that glorious V-8 wail as he celebrates with some tasty donuts.
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