Motorsport champions Ricciardo and Márquez trade the track for sea for a high-speed sailing race in Barcelona with America’s Cup team Alinghi Red Bull Racing.

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Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, Alinghi Red Bull Racing was joined by two motorsports icons, 8-time Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo and 8-time MotoGP champion Marc Márquez.

Following Max Verstappen’s visit to the Base last year this week, the two racers took it a step further, not only getting the chance to foil the Swiss challenger’s two AC40 yachts but also race them on the America’s Cup venue. Swapping wheels for sails, Ricciardo and Márquez went head-to-head along Barcelona’s seafront for a friendly contest, feeling the adrenaline as they reached almost 90 km/h speeds.

Both boats were quick off the start line, but ultimately, the Australian driver got the upper hand, beating the Catalonian MotoGP champion on home ground. Márquez compared his experience in motorsports: “The speed is completely different. Maybe in kilometres per hour, it’s slower, but the feeling of the speed was super high. You don’t feel like you are flying when you’re in it. But then I saw Daniel’s boat flying by our side and realised I was too. We were foiling super smoothly.”

Alinghi Red Bull Racing has been working closely with Red Bull Advanced Technologies, the high-performance vehicle engineering division of Red Bull Racing. Despite the apparent difference between the two sports, Formula One and the America’s Cup share roots in high-performance engineering.

“The way these boats are built, and the structure feels a lot like the cockpit of a Formula One car,” Ricciardo commented. “They’re super sensitive with the wind, so aerodynamics also has some crossover. It’s a lot like what we do, with small movements, and everything needs a lot of finesse.”

The Swiss skipper, Arnaud Psarofaghis, got the two athletes up to speed before the AC40s went out. “Daniel took my seat on the boat and followed all my directions as I sent them through from the chase boat,” Psarofaghis said. “Both Marc and Daniel were dropped in the deep end today and adapted quickly. Overall, it was a super inspiring day out on the water with these guys.”

Although it was a lower-stakes race for Ricciardo ahead of the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix this Sunday, the friendly competition with his Red Bull colleague might be the perfect preparation as he gears up for the racetrack.

Daniel Ricciardo, F1 driver:

You never know what to expect when you experience something like this, but I had a lot of fun. Also, doing it with Marc was great for us to spend time together and do something like this with Alinghi Red Bull Racing. I wish the team the absolute best for the America’s Cup. It’s going to be awesome. I’ve seen everything, and we know you’ll do great, so we’ll be cheering you on.

When you come out of the water foiling, the boats go so fast, the agility and everything are precise. You also feel the wind as we do – and Marc does on his bike – but we don’t get the water that much unless it’s a wet race. So, now and then, you hit a wave and get covered with water.

Marc Márquez, MotoGP rider:

The most impressive thing is the coordination needed inside the boat. My biggest question was how they learned and understood what they needed to do. It wasn’t easy to feel what was going on inside the boat because everything was super smooth as soon as you were flying.

It would be best if you were super precise. In motorsport, if you make a mistake, you fall. But here, in a race, I imagine that if you make a small mistake, you drop the speed very quickly, and then it takes a lot of time to reach that speed again.

Arnaud Psarofaghis, Alinghi Red Bull Racing skipper:

I’m a big fan of Formula 1 and MotoGP, so it was an honour to show these guys around our Base. Daniel and Marc were interested in learning about our America’s Cup campaign, so before we got on the water, I even gave them a behind-the-scenes tour onboard our AC75, BoatOne.

We’ve been here as a team for two years, getting to know the conditions of Barcelona and how to sail these boats, so seeing both of them quickly learn the ropes was a big inspiration ahead of the racing this summer.


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