Max in Graz

Max Verstappen blasts through the cobbled streets of Graz and up the Schlossberg at the wheel of the RB7.

The Red Bull Ring is undoubtedly one of Formula One’s most picturesque circuits. Nestled high in the hills of Styria, it’s a beautiful, if somewhat rural, locale that is serene, peaceful and on a warm summer’s day provides a verdant balm for the soul.

Which means that ahead of the sound and fury of a race weekend, it can feel a little… quiet. After all, what kind of homecoming is it if you don’t go out on the town and kick up a little dust? We did just that and in the only way we know how – by firing up an RB7 and blasting it through the streets of the nearest city.

So earlier today we headed to beautiful Graz, capital of the Steiermark, where in picture-perfect weather we let Max tear up the hilly and historic cobbled streets of the city’s most famous landmark – the fortified Schloßberg hill that towers over the centre of the city.

Accompanied by Graz’s own Dr Marko, who was more than keen to bring some F1 power to his home town, and also by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon, our first stop was the city’s Karmeliterplatz, where the Red Bull crew got their first glimpse of the specially constructed track and the huge crowd surrounding it.

After some short on-stage interviews with the drivers, and a longer signing session with fans, Max headed across to the show car team’s garage where the double title-winning RB7 was ready and purring.

And while the ride height might have been set for high-altitude to cope with the bumpy cobbles, last year’s Austrian Grand Prix winner wasted no time in demonstrating the full power and ear-splitting glory of the RB7’s V8 engine as he blasted up the tree-clad hill, passing the amazing 16th-Century Uhrturm clock tower on his way to the top.

There, at the Graz Kasematten outdoor venue built inside the walls of the ancient fortifications, Max drove the RB7 straight onto the venue’s stage to the delight of the crowd. The Flying Dutchman then joined Dr Marko, the Mayor of Graz Siegfried Nagl, and Bernhard Rinner of local authority Theaterholding Graz for a brief Q&A session.

Afterwards, Max admitted that while the run had been one of the trickiest he’d done, making it to the top of the iconic hill had been a huge thrill.

This has never been done before and driving an F1 car up the side of a mountain is actually pretty cool”, he smiled. “It was a short run but a lot of fun. Apart from driving in the snow in Kitzbühel, I would say this is one of the most challenging show runs I’ve done. Driving up a mountain road is very bumpy and the car touches the ground a lot, so you have to be really careful, but it all worked out well. After winning last year’s race here I think the sport has become even bigger in Austria. It’s great to see so many passionate fans here today, and hopefully we can give them a good weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

COURTESY OF © Red Bull Media House