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January 14, 2016 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Max Verstappen drove his F1 car on a ski slope and didn't die. [YouTube]
We see Verstappen taking his Red Bull (of course) team race car and driving it up, down, and back up a ski slope. Somehow, the mix of studded tires, snow chains, and Verstappen's natural born talent keep the kid from flying off the mountain. (The super serious 9-minute one, seen directly above, is particularly full of beautiful, mind-boggling footage.) [The Verge]
posted by Fizz (49 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Standing at the top of a black diamond slope you're going OMFGsteep-cliff, but no, 45 degrees? ah no, 30'? rarely, more like 8-10 degrees? A lot of ski slopes are pretty darned gentle, the one in the video was barely a "blue" slope. Trivial for a volvo, old rear wheel drive volvo. I'm sure after swigging several red bulls it seems intense. pretty silly.
posted by sammyo at 3:41 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Stepping away from the awesomeness of this video. I am very concerned about all those people lined up along the side of the track, why!?! My heart-rate sky-rockets whenever I see people that close to the edge. Just like in rallying race videos, I don't understand the allure. It would be full blown panic attack for me.
posted by Fizz at 3:42 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Meanwhile, NASCAR drivers remain scared to go out in the rain.
posted by TedW at 3:50 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Trivial for a volvo, old rear wheel drive volvo.

He's not driving a Volvo.
posted by edeezy at 3:53 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Verstappen's natural born talent keep the kid from flying off the mountain.

Given his father's reputation for ending up in the gravel I wouldn't say that particular ability is 'natural born'.

/s.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:53 PM on January 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


All the slow-mo effects in the video are basically trying to mask that he was going like 15mph right? Because I think this was probably a lot less impressive in person than the camerawork is making it seem. F1 cars have trouble putting down power on dry asphalt. I imagine there was beautiful noise, spinning wheels, and very little actual... motion.

It's an interesting novelty, but it's... a very strange feeling. Like here's a machine built to the extreme for a singular purpose... so let's take it into a context where it's completely and totally wrong? When other machines built to the extreme for exactly that purpose already exist?
posted by danny the boy at 4:02 PM on January 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


Stepping away from the awesomeness of this video. I am very concerned about all those people lined up along the side of the track, why!?! My heart-rate sky-rockets whenever I see people that close to the edge. Just like in rallying race videos, I don't understand the allure. It would be full blown panic attack for me.

It's freshly raked snow, the car has chains, the car only weighs 1500lbs and it has wings providing a massive amount of downforce. It should be orders of magnitude easier to control than your average front wheel drive SUV with worn all season tires that millions of idiots are out on roads with facing slush and black ice as major hazards. I'd be more worried driving down a freshly plowed freeway at speed in moderate traffic.
posted by Talez at 4:03 PM on January 14, 2016


Trivial for a volvo, old rear wheel drive volvo.

This is a car that most competent sports car enthusiasts cannot drive on a circuit. It has to go frighteningly fast just to generate enough heat in the tires to grip and steer.

I'm astonished that this was possible. I'm surprised that it wasn't just stalling all the time. I'm surprised that it could be steered at all. I'm surprised that it didn't overheat, outside temperature notwithstanding, as it didn't appear to be going very fast at all over a lot of the segment.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:03 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


the car only weighs 1500lbs and it has wings providing a massive amount of downforce

At the speed it was going, no downforce would be generated at all. The lightweight, wide-tire, rear-wheel drive, 1 inch suspension travel nature of the car is the worst configuration for this terrain that you could think of.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:07 PM on January 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah, he's really got a lot of traction for how fast he's going. I doubt there's even enough speed for the ground effects to work - I'd worry more about them getting ripped off in the snow.

Now, if you want some crazy vehicles driving on a ski slope and actually racing, I'd take a look at Red Bull Frozen Rush. 900 HP trophy trucks going at it side-by-side on a ski slope, over jumps, banging fenders. (Full race here).
posted by hackwolf at 4:08 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


At the speed it was going, no downforce would be generated at all. The lightweight, wide-tire, rear-wheel drive, 1 inch suspension travel nature of the car is the worst configuration for this terrain that you could think of.

The wide-tire with chains would probably work a lot like snowshoes though and the slope is really smooth though.
posted by Talez at 4:09 PM on January 14, 2016


Trivial for a volvo, old rear wheel drive volvo.

This is a car that most competent sports car enthusiasts cannot drive on a circuit. It has to go frighteningly fast just to generate enough heat in the tires to grip and steer.


Yeah, the brakes on this thing don't become effective until the car gets above the top speed of your "old real wheel drive volvo".
posted by sideshow at 4:13 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Those chains are amazing and if you watch the slowmo parts carefully the tires clearly do not have much grip. The car is paddlewheeling through the snow.
posted by GuyZero at 4:13 PM on January 14, 2016


I'd take a look at Red Bull Frozen Rush

Those are some straight-up Mario Cart powerslides.
posted by GuyZero at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


All the slow-mo effects in the video are basically trying to mask that he was going like 15mph right? Because I think this was probably a lot less impressive in person than the camerawork is making it seem.

Yea, you can't tell at all what's really happening through the hyper over editing. "Drove" seems like a strong word for this, he's spinning his way down an incline like riding a big wheel down a sand dune.

F1 cars work by literally generating enough heat and friction in the tires to stick to the track, and you don't get up to the speeds where down force becomes a thing without that grip on the road. With cold tires they can barely perform on a flat surface, much less on powdery snow, the chains are probably the only part of the tires generating any forward motion at all, without them he'd just be spinning in the same spot. This is beyond pointless.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Somehow I don't think it's likely that they were running ordinary F1 tires with chains on, or the kind of brake pads that need to be at 600 degrees before they start working.

It may not be the best car for driving in the snow, but I'd take it over any Volvo for crashing into a tree.
posted by sfenders at 4:20 PM on January 14, 2016


They didn't show the kids driving the sno-cats all night to prepare the smooth surface. Those kids drive slopes steeper than 45 degrees, in the dark, all alone, that require winches to go up and down. Much more impressive than someone driving back and forth on a flat surface of snow.
posted by JackFlash at 4:21 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here's a version without the distorting slo-mo. You can judge the speed a little better, he's under control, but it's not really impressive. Slap some snow tires on a school bus and it'll probably do just as well.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:36 PM on January 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


Somehow I don't think it's likely that they were running ordinary F1 tires with chains on

Yup, the video does a close-up to show some kind of custom-made F1 studded snow-tire. It looks like the snow-studs didn't do anything in the snow, so they put on some custom F1 snow-chains too.

I wonder if either of those things will ever need to be used again. By anyone. Ever. :)

I think it was going a lot faster than 15mph though. Probably got up to a pretty crazy speed for some of the passes even (though obvs not by F1 standards). It definitely seemed to start out slow and cautious but some of the later shots seemed be that kind of motorsports footage where the cars are going several times faster than they appear.

Yeah, I wouldn't be lined up against the barrier like that while someone is driving an F1 on snow. No-one has tried that, so the location of the "safe" area is what... a best guess?
posted by anonymisc at 4:42 PM on January 14, 2016


There's something about an F1 car with snow chains on that's just... pervy.
posted by selfnoise at 5:02 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Trivial for a volvo, old rear wheel drive volvo.

As much confidence as I have in old rwd Volvos, I shared a 1980-ish 240 with roommates for a winter season working the resort in Park City, and it had a hard time making it to the employee parking lot half the time, let alone driving up a ski run of any degree at all.
posted by The World Famous at 5:04 PM on January 14, 2016


Is that fast-slow-fast editing style meant to echo video games? I have been seeing it more and more often lately and I have been wondering where it comes from.

The video is just silly, though I was really surprised that they were using such a small helicopter to move the car. I know those cars are light, but I still would have thought you would use a bigger helicopter for safety.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:06 PM on January 14, 2016


Answers the question, "Why did you climb this mountain?"


"Because it's ThBVBVBVVVBBVVVVRVRRRRRRRREEEEEERRRRVVVVRVBVBRBVVVRBRV
posted by not_on_display at 5:09 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well that was completely pointless and stupid and awesome...
posted by the painkiller at 5:28 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


> It's an interesting novelty, but it's... a very strange feeling. Like here's a machine built to the extreme for a singular purpose..

... of advertising Red Bull.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:38 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


That's not so much driving on a ski slope with the danger of flying off the mountain as toodling around on the flatish area on top of the ski runs.
posted by ssg at 5:55 PM on January 14, 2016


I love both F1 and WRC but this unholy conjoining of the two leaves me cold as a dead herring. Feh.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:20 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


That has to be the sturdiest front wing assembly ever made. How it didn't completely shatter at some point, I have no idea.

Those custom studded Pirellis, though. Nice.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:25 PM on January 14, 2016


Other than that people should drink Red Bull, it's unclear to me what the moral lesson is here.
posted by wormwood23 at 6:45 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Slap some snow tires on a school bus and it'll probably do just as well."

Oh god, what was that horizontal driving game, about 1997, that had all manner of vehicles in a rally type race? As I recall, once course was snow, and one of the "bonus" vehicles was a school bus...
posted by notsnot at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2016


The point is to promote Max and maybe F1 to the X-Games crowd Red Bull is/was heavily involved in? How much money does Red Bull have? It must be astronomical. I wonder if they'll be able to hold on to Max?
posted by juiceCake at 7:20 PM on January 14, 2016


At the speed it was going, no downforce would be generated at all.

Absolutely right.

Yup, the video does a close-up to show some kind of custom-made F1 studded snow-tire.

They look like the standard super (very) wets with just some studs put in them, to me. I don't think they'd bother making a special tyre for this because nothing would actually 'work' anyway, so I think the 'paddle boat' analogy is about right.

I doubt there's even enough speed for the ground effects to work - I'd worry more about them getting ripped off in the snow.

There is no ground effect aero on modern F1 cars. That is a specific kind of underbody aero (with almost full length gently expanding tunnels) and this has been specifically outlawed about 30 years or so ago. In fact, it's banned in all European motorsports (outside of Le Mans, I think) and they have a flat floor for the most part, with a rear diffuser starting near the rear wheels.

That has to be the sturdiest front wing assembly ever made. How it didn't completely shatter at some point, I have no idea.

Structural carbon fibre wings are mind bendingly strong. They look fragile because they move around (but they're designed to do that) and because they get knocked off pretty easily (it seems) from the TV. It's kind of a circular bit of understanding when you realise that they're very strong, that therefore the impacts are pretty big, in which case the wings are really strong, etc.
posted by Brockles at 7:27 PM on January 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


It's interesting that until last fall they wouldn't let Max drive on the actual highways in Belgium.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:34 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


When other machines built to the extreme for exactly that purpose already exist

Quite.
posted by flabdablet at 9:17 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Max did say in the vid that he had to go really slow otherwise it was too bumpy.
posted by anadem at 9:41 PM on January 14, 2016


Well that was completely pointless and stupid and awesome...
Yeah, this. It's cool to see a company doing something just because they can. Yes, I'm deliberately ignoring that this was a shameless publicity stunt.
posted by dg at 10:29 PM on January 14, 2016


Meh. F1 cars have suspension that's adjustable in every degree. Big Balloony Tires (relative), increased ride height, softer dampers, increased negative camber.. blah blah... stupid red bull marketing stunts.
posted by Sintram at 1:16 AM on January 15, 2016


The ground effects wouldn't have even worked, driving that F1 car on a ski slope.
First world 'problems.'
posted by From Bklyn at 1:25 AM on January 15, 2016


It looks like the snow-studs didn't do anything in the snow, so they put on some custom F1 snow-chains too.

Yeah, as soon as I saw the studs, I thought "Why'd they bother to do that?" Studs are helpful on ice, but don't add much of any traction on snow. The chains would have worked just as well without the studs.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:04 AM on January 15, 2016


In fact, it's banned in all European motorsports (outside of Le Mans, I think) and they have a flat floor for the most part, with a rear diffuser starting near the rear wheels.

Not strictly true - a bunch of one-make open-wheel racing series make extensive use of ground effects. Formula Ford cars have very little other aero, for example.
posted by Dysk at 5:58 AM on January 15, 2016


Judging by the fact that the tires appear to be making minimal contact with the snow, I'd guess this car has an underplate that essentially makes it a sled with the chained tires providing enough forward driving force to keep it sliding. With the right grooves in the sled plate you could keep it stable and steerable, but it's more snowmobile than car.
posted by rocket88 at 7:55 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was wondering about the studs, and how long they would last on the average "packed powder" (for non-skiers, think lumps of snow hard as ice, roughly broken up and groomed into a skiable mix, but which turns back into solid ice as the day goes on) ski slope. The switch to chain was good, and it would make sense that they took off the studded tires first, but I saw the wear on the tires under the chains and first thought "well, those studs didn't last long."
posted by Blackanvil at 7:55 AM on January 15, 2016


Trivial for a volvo, old rear wheel drive volvo.

Are you kidding? I had a '91 240 wagon and that thing fishtailed at the first snowflake.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:41 AM on January 15, 2016


I was underwhelmed by how not really awesome this was.
posted by Chuffy at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Formula Ford cars have very little other aero

I'm going to have to question that, I'm afraid. Can you cite an example of a car using ground effect? With specific images/descriptions of the underfloor aero? The only single make series I know that uses it are IMSA Prototype Lites and Indy Lites, neither of which are Euro legal to race.

The last time I saw a Formula Ford, there was no aero at all on an F1600, and predominately flat floors and the only aero is the front and rear wings and a very basic diffuser on an F2000. Now, it has been a few years since I have seen either up close in Europe, but certainly the Canadian and US series do not at all have any ground effect, but I haven't seen a modern European spec one, but would be very surprised if that has changed in such a fundamental way to the series ethos and the entire direction of Euro aero regs for decades.

Again, ground effect is a very specific style of aero. It is not wings and flat floors (not even diffusers are considered ground effect). There is some aero effect from the ground in a flat floor car due to its angle of attack (usually somewhere between 0.2-0.5 degrees nose down) but this is not 'ground effect' itself.
posted by Brockles at 9:06 PM on January 15, 2016


Edited to the max! A greater challenge may have been to drive it in afternoon rush hour.
posted by bz at 11:42 PM on January 15, 2016


I'm going to have to question that, I'm afraid. Can you cite an example of a car using ground effect? With specific images/descriptions of the underfloor aero? The only single make series I know that uses it are IMSA Prototype Lites and Indy Lites, neither of which are Euro legal to race.

I can't find any pictures of Formula Ford underbodies at all at the moment sadly, but I am pretty sure they use (standardised) simple ground effect tunnels. I can definitely find a reference for GP2, though: "Engines which provide over 612bhp, plus ground effects and proper slick tyres make the GP2 cars powerful and tricky beasts to handle."
posted by Dysk at 5:01 AM on January 16, 2016


(On further investigation, it seems the Formula Ford thing is moot, since it's been replaced - over here in the UK, at least - by the MSA Formula Ford/F4, which is pretty different. Still Ford EcoBoost engines, but front and rear wings for aero now.)
posted by Dysk at 5:08 AM on January 16, 2016


Thanks for the explanation on ground effect, Brockles. I was (lazily) thinking that was a more general term than it was.
posted by hackwolf at 1:46 PM on January 16, 2016


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