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  • Writer's pictureDrew Bentham

World's Fastest Drone in First-Ever F1 ‘One Shot’ with Max Verstappen

Still from drone footage


The uninterrupted first-person-view (FPV) footage of Verstappen’s full lap of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit was shot with a manually piloted drone that was custom-built for this purpose. The 2024 car was brought up close and personal to viewers for the first time, marking the successful flight of a camera drone at such speed and duration, capturing high-definition video.



Verstappen checking out the new drone
I never thought I’d see a drone going that quick just for camera footage,” said Verstappen after seeing it in action on the circuit.
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 One.

Verstappen on seeing the F1 speed drone


It took over a year to create a drone that could accelerate two times faster than an F1 car, reaching 300 km/h in just 4 seconds, with a top speed of over 350 km/h. Dutch Drone Gods and pilot Ralph Hogenbirk, also known as Shaggy FPV, have been preparing for a lap behind their countryman Verstappen with multiple flight simulations, and the first concepts of the drone were drawn in their workshop located in Eindhoven, in the South of the Netherlands.


The development was accelerated by the Dutch Drone Gods' access to the expertise and processes of Red Bull Advanced Technologies, a high-performance engineering arm of the Oracle Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team. The company designed and manufactured lightweight aerodynamic fairings and structural motor mount arms, to help reduce the total mass of the drone by approximately 10%. This progress was trialled through numerous tests at Formula 1 tracks, utilising RB8 and RB19 cars driven by reserve driver Liam Lawson and 13-time Grand Prix winner turned broadcaster David Coulthard, who later went on to say,



Couthard was one of the drivers to help test the prototypes.


When you see the big, wide, shots you lose perspective on the speed of the car. There are so many applications to really give the fans the feeling of what it’s like to be in one of these race cars. When you have the drone up close like that then you’re immersed in the whole experience. I’m sure in the not-too-distant future, we’re going to see this as part of our broadcast.

The pilot controlled the drone's flight route using a radio controller, observing the flight path solely through goggles that provided a low-resolution view from the drone's vantage point. The camera angle was adjusted simultaneously with a foot pedal, requiring precision in hand-to-eye coordination to deliver a smooth close-up shot of an F1 car going over 300 km/h.


Keeping up with the Formula 1 car going at full speed presented a new challenge to overcome cornering, acceleration and deceleration forces, battery life, connectivity between the drone, receiver, and the pilot, as well as navigating over bridges and under billboards.


Challenge Information

“This is a special drone because this is the only one with a fitted camera and goes this fast. It’s fully custom-built, it’s one-of-a-kind that we have developed. 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,” commented the drone pilot Shaggy FPV. “This was definitely the craziest shoot I’ve done so far.”

Not only was it challenging for the pilot to stay close to the RB20 car, while navigating obstacles such as bridges around the circuit, but there were also significant technical hurdles for the drone to overcome. While the average consumer drones travel around 60 km/h, with an approximate battery life of 30 minutes, this new drone, designed to chase the RB20, needed to fly with the agility of an F1 car. This meant it needed big accelerations and decelerations, both of which notably diminished battery life to approximately 3 minutes. Verstappen was aware of these challenges as he watched the footage of the drone trailing behind his car.





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