With strong winds resulting in Free Practice 2 being cancelled, the Master Class pilots only got to fly one session in the track. It was tough out there today, here's what the pilots thought:
"It was quite sporty out in the track today. It's a very demanding track, but it's simple and with it being simple it means the times will be close. Today felt very similar to Race Day last year, although there was no rain today, but the air conditions felt the same."
"Most of the pilots, including me, decided not to fly under the bridge, because it was very bumpy and it's good just to be focused on the track, which itself is difficult to fly clean in these conditions. Because of the shaking, you have to react to every movement much more than in calm wind. You have to hold the airplane much stronger, and it's much more tiring. It's simply hard work. You must be super focused and relax in every moment because the movement of the aeroplane in this kind of turbulence can cause almost 45 degrees of banking in a split second, and you have to stop it. So you really hold the airplane very strong and of course it's not easy – plus there's the concentration, the pulling and the Gs. So today in these conditions Free Practice felt really almost like a race."
"The track was really interesting today. The southerly wind really pushed us quickly along the track. It was super bumpy, but I love flying along the river with Buda on one side and Pest on the other. As always this race will be won or lost in the Vertical Turning Manoeuvres. Looking to tomorrow it would've been good to have had the second session today."
"I thought it would be much worse, but in the end I focused on clean flying and tried to focus on the track and not get disturbed by the bumps. The wind was pushing us, normally in the wrong direction and it was different to what we thought it was going to be. I'm happy, I would've flown the other flight too, but we weren't able to."
"It was really bumpy, but it's always fun to be in the track. It wasn't racing though, it was more like survival. I hit a pylon for the first time in a while, I saw it coming and kind of leaned into it. But we're looking to clean that up and be ready for tomorrow. In calm conditions it's a fairly simple track, so who flies efficiently with no penalties will do well"
"It was survival in the track today, just trying not to hit the gates. We needed to learn the track today, and if the winds were even worse in the second session we wouldn't have learned anything. Every time I fly in Budapest I feel very privileged, only a few people in the world get to say they have flown under the Chain Bridge and when I look back on my career, that's something I'll be able to say I've done."
"It was extreme out there today – very windy and very tough to keep the raceplane steady. Despite that we learned a bit about the track, it's a tight track even without the turbulence. It would've been good to get the second session, but safety comes first."
"For me I was at my limits today, with the strong tail wind and the turbulence I thought it was best to pull out of the track. I wasn't going to push. I hope the wind drops and it becomes calm, if we get good weather we'll have a good race, otherwise it'll be a lottery."
"It's really, really rough and with a smaller tail, like I have on my raceplane, when it's turbulent I have a harder time than the other guys. It was like in Vegas that year, it's so rough, you're being thrown around the plane and it's jumping around doing things you're not asking it to and it's just kind of trying to survive. I executed some of the plan I had, but I just had to forget about other parts of it because it was impossible."
"It's such a challenging race with the bridge and the wind it was tough. You have to really concentrate. Today was like being in a washing machine, it was hard to fly and I think the raceplane was controlling it more than me. I hit a pylon early on and as that was down for the remainder of my session, it was hard to fly the track accurately."
"It was very rough to the point where I wasn't trying to fly fast, I was concentrating on trying not to fall out of the track. The wind is the problem, if we can have a little less then we can get in the track and learn a little more about it. The challenge of the bridge is to get to the start gate at the right speed, as pilots we know where our wheels are – they touch the ground every time we fly – but we have to make sure the tail is safe."
"It's really bumpy and there is a lot of wind. It's already a demanding track but with the turbulence it's a very nice challenge. It's always good to fly under the Chain Bridge as it is amazing, so I'm really happy. The wind is strong today, but it should be better by Race Day, so that's a positive thing. Learning two different tracks was a challenge because the middle of the track was so different. We have these in case the water level changes and we have to fly over the bridge."
"It was fantastic to fly under the bridge, it was a dream come true. But after that I had to think and focus on the track. We know how demanding a normal track can be in the Red Bull Air Race, to have to fly under a bridge as well, it really loads your brain. My flight went well. It was bumpy and windy, which is never easy, but I didn't hit a pylon and we now have some data so I can work on my lines and improve. We will leave Budapest with something after this weekend."
François Le Vot
"I didn't have many opportunities to test the new raceplane. I made a slow entry into the track at 180kts to see how the plane would fly and react to my inputs. I was only three seconds off the pace, which is a lot closer than I could get in my old aircraft."
Tomorrow brings Qualifying and you can follow all the Air Race action right HERE.