SailGP and Oracle Red Bull Racing hold ultimate match-up in Saint-Tropez

Two of Oracle’s most technologically advanced sports partners came together for a thrilling challenge on the waters of the French Riviera. Formula 1’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez teamed up with U.S. SailGP Team driver and fellow Red Bull athlete Jimmy Spithill to see if their talent could upset overall season leader Tom Slingsby of Australia.

Fresh off a win at his home event, Max Verstappen alternated with Sergio Pérez, taking turns onboard the U.S. team’s high-speed, hydrofoiling F50 catamaran, taking on the two-time SailGP Champion Tom Slingsby. They first let the experienced SailGP drivers go head-to-head and experience the full force of a SailGP race – with the U.S. showing early form over the Aussies – before taking the wheel and participating in time trials to see if they had what it takes to drive the F50.

The two teams came together in Saint-Tropez ahead of this weekend’s Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix and F1’s Italian Grand Prix.

SailGP Team CEO and driver Jimmy Spithill said: “I think when they were told they were going to go on the water, they didn’t expect these boats. They certainly looked at them with a little bit of shock because the boats look more like an aircraft. I think they were blown away by the technology.

“Although they are on the road and we are on the water, the one thing that we do share is how data driven both sports are and how much the athletes rely on making decisions and using that data. It is just fundamental. If you look at strategies – how we make decisions on the water, how they make decisions on a race track – we study the data hard, we use it real-time and there is a lot of it, but we are both very fortunate to have a partner like Oracle that gives us that sort of a competitive advantage.”

Max Verstappen said: “I’ve had a pretty incredible experience; I’ve never done anything like it. We do a lot of really cool things at Red Bull and this is definitely one of them. SailGP is extremely professional, and the race boats are much bigger than expected, it was impressive to see the aerodynamics and the foils. It was really interesting to listen to the whole team communicate on the boat, when I’m in the car I only communicate with one person. We also went to the Oracle Insights Center and the one thing that really interested me in SailGP is that all the data is available to everyone. And of course, in our sport, that’s not allowed and it’s not possible, but still you have so much information to make the right calls and strategy calls.”

Sergio Pérez said: “To have that opportunity to experience a new sport was incredible, it was something unique. We are doing some racing but not on the track – on the water. Like every sport when you see it from the outside it is so different when you actually jump into it. It is so impressive, I have a lot of admiration for what these guys do. I am very curious about it, how the team uses the data and of course the technology – it is great to learn about other sports.

“Our sports are similar in the way we interact with the teams and with the strategists, we have a lot more similarities in our sport than I first thought. The beauty of F1 is that you are constantly hiding your data and strategy from other teams and that information is so important to you. I find it very unique that you are able to see the data from other teams in SailGP, that is something very different from our sport.”

At the end of the day, the U.S. team’s new talent clearly gave them an advantage over the Aussies, something Jimmy Spithill’s team will aim to carry into the race weekend in Saint-Tropez, 10 – 11 September.

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