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Level Up!

In a bid to hone our drivers’ reactions in the build-up to the British Grand Prix weekend we set our drivers two very different challenges, both designed to improve strength, co-ordination and timing, crucial assets in the quest for F1 glory…

Nah, just kidding, we just thought we’d give the boys a chance to raise their game in very different ways, with Daniel hitting the heights on a climbing wall, with Red Bull and England Olympic level climbing star Shauna Coxsey and Max boosting his gaming skills in the company of Red Bull and England FIFA pro Ryan ‘Hashtag Ryan’ Pessoa.

Daniel’s took on an athletic adventure as he visited the Castle Climbing Centre in Stoke Newington, London. The former Victorian Pumping station has been converted in the UK’s largest indoor climbing location, and there Daniel was put through his paces by professional rock climber and Bouldering World Cup double champion Shauna Coxsey.

“I learnt a few things!” said a beaming Daniel afterwards. “It was tough! I felt a lot of forearm pump – they were stinging, but I definitely noticed some similarities to racing: you’re looking ahead, trying to find the quickest way, or the best way. Thinking about the next move all the time.”

‘Bouldering’ – literally the sport of climbing boulders – is a stripped-back rock-climbing discipline, conducted without ropes or other equipment (except climbing shoes). It began as a training method but gradually became a competitive branch of the sport, taking place both outdoors and indoors, judged either against the clock or on the difficulty of the ascent.

Shauna taught Daniel some basic technique, including which muscle groups to use in various situations, and by the end of the session, they had a race up the wall that ended in a dead-heat – albeit a dead heat that involved Daniel going up the easiest route and Shauna the hardest… using only her hands.

“I’d never properly done climbing before – but I always enjoy doing new things because it’s also good for your brain,” said a buzzing (and slightly sore) Daniel. “Shauna taught me good basics – and I think as a coach, for my first time, she was great. I felt confidence under her guidance.”

Secondly, we decided to indulge Max’s well-known passion for football video games and sent him to London’s Shoreditch district, where in March of this year the Red Bull Gaming Sphere opened.

The UK’s largest public e-sports studio, the Sphere allows gamers to hone their gaming in a purpose-built environment, taking part in weekly tournaments, rising up competition leaderboards and getting hint and tips from gaming pros.

And as Max is an avowed FIFA addict we thought it would be cool to test his skills again one of the best in the business, Hashtag Ryan.

Over three games of the football franchise, Max acquitted himself well, but Hashtag United star Ryan, who in 2017 ranked as the number one player on Xbox, winning 159 out of 160 matches, was in a class of his own. 

“It’s cool to be here at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere. If I weren’t a Formula 1 driver I would be gaming here all day, trying to become a professional player. It was a lot of fun. I rate myself average compared to Ryan, but he’s world class,” said Max.

Ryan, meanwhile, was impressed with Max’s footballing skills. “We played three games of FIFA and of course I was expected to come out on top, which I did, thankfully. It would have been quite bad if I lost!

“Max is not bad at all. I knew that it would be tough as I heard that he plays a lot. He’s a good player. The scorelines were close considering I’m a professional and he’s a casual gamer. He put up more of a challenge than most of my friends.”

After the FIFA games it was time for Max to introduce Ryan to his world and the Austrian GP winner gave Ryan a crash course (without the crashing) of the new F1 2018 game.

“Ryan is not used to Formula 1 but he’s very keen to learn. He was listening to what I was saying and that’s always good,” said Max.

Max then took over the sim rig and immediately set a track record for Silverstone. “It should be like that, otherwise I’d better find another job!” he laughed afterwards.

Max was impressed, too, by the new F1 game, adding: “I think the car again has more of a natural feel and I think the graphics were really good. The car is better to drive. I think we can understand how the real car is driving and in the game you have to drive it in a similar way to go fast, so that’s good.”