Devised by a Red Bull sports think-tank in 2002, the Red Bull Air Race had its inaugural season as a World Series in 2003. Being a visual spectacle unlike any other, it quickly garnered the interest of fans and pilots alike. Peter Besenyei of Hungary, one of the masterminds behind its inception, was appropriately the first victor.

The Red Bull Air Race World Series returned in 2004, this time throwing 11 pilots into the mix. After a tense three-race season spanning the USA, UK and Hungary, it was American Kirby Chambliss who emerged victorious, followed by Peter Besenyei in second, and Brit Steve Jones and Klaus Schrodt of Germany in joint third.

In 2005, ten hand-picked pilots competed in seven full-throttle races around the world, with stops in the UK, the USA and Europe. American Mike Mangold, a former US Air Force fighter pilot, was the dominant force in that first season, winning five of the seven races. Mangold won 36 World Championship points while Peter Besenyei took second with 32 points and American Kirby Chambliss was third with 21 points.
In 2006, eight races took place with 11 pilots competing. This year Chambliss was in a class of his own, winning four of the eight races. Chambliss won 38 World Championship points while Besenyei once again came second with 35 points and Mangold third with 30 points.
In 2007, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship was expanded to ten races with 13 pilots, including the first-ever stop in South America in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Newcomers Hannes Arch of Austria and Sergey Rakhmanin of Russia joined the championship. It was a thrilling battle for the title between Mangold and Great Britain's Paul Bonhomme with each winning three races.They finished the season with 47 points each, but Mangold clinched the title with tie-breaker countback. Besenyei was third with 31 points.
2008 was host to eight races and 12 pilots. Austria's Hannes Arch, in only his second season, became the first European to win the World Championship. Bonhomme, eager to avenge his defeat in 2007, was dominant through the first half of the season, claiming three wins. But he struggled to maintain his form in the second half of the 2008 Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Arch won only two races – Budapest and Porto – but stood on the podium in seven of the eight races to finish with 61 points to Bonhomme's 54. Chambliss claimed third place with 46 points.
In 2009, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship added four newcomers making a total of 15 pilots, including the first Asian, the first Canadian and the first Australian – Yoshi Muroya, Pete McLeod and Matt Hall respectively. Also new was Matthias Dolderer of Germany.

Arch took an early lead and held his position until the fourth race when Bonhomme moved ahead and claimed three wins overall, leading him to win his elusive first title.

2009 was, without a doubt, the most competitive season in race history, with eight of the 15 pilots getting on the podium at least once and 11 obtaining at least one top five finish.
In 2010, Bonhomme matched Mangold's record by becoming the second pilot to claim two World Champion titles. He finished each of the six races in the top three, two of which were victories. Arch came a close second having won four of the six races, but lost out to Bonhomme due to an 11th place finish in the first stage of the season in Abu Dhabi. Britain's other pro pilot, Nigel Lamb, came in third place with three runner-up placings and three fourth places.
The return in 2014 hailed a new era for the Red Bull Air Race. With the new rules and standardisations, the team dynamic was more important than ever, and tacticians were becoming a familiar presence in the hangars. When the season kicked off, Bonhomme and Arch were the favourites. But at the third race, a debut in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Britain’s Nigel Lamb claimed his first race win, and he finished second at every subsequent stop. It all came to a head in Spielberg, Austria, when the trio clashed for the overall title. Adding to Great Britain’s legacy, Lamb emerged the victor, and the winglets on his raceplane became the hot new trend in modifications. Also notable: Pete McLeod, Yoshihide Muroya and Martin Sonka claimed their first-ever Red Bull Air Race podiums.

Another 2014 highlight was the introduction of the sport’s feeder class, the Challenger Cup, created to help outstanding pilots develop Air Racing skills that could potentially earn them a place in the newly appointed Master Class World Championship. Eleven pilots took part, with six earning a place in the winner-takes-all final, where Petr Kopfstein was crowned the inaugural Challenger Cup Champion.
The 2015 season saw Japan host the Red Bull Air Race for the first time, and a crowd of 120,000 turned out to cheer the home hero Yoshihide Muroya. Former Challenger Class pilots François Le Vot (FRA) and Juan Velarde (ESP) moved up to the Master Class. And the battle for the World Championship came down to Britain's Bonhomme and Australia's Hall, as the Aussie upped his game with his inaugural race win in Spielberg, Austria. The season came to a spectacular close in Las Vegas, when Hall won the race but Bonhomme managed enough points to claim a record third World Championship title, with the Australian second overall and Austria’s Arch third. In the feeder class, French pilot Mika Brageot took the Challenger Cup.

At the season’s close, icon Peter Besenyei announced his retirement, capping a career spanning 10 seasons, eight race wins and the sport’s initial title. Bonhomme also retired as the most successful pilot in the history of the sport with his 19 race wins and three titles.
The departure of Bonhomme and Besenyei threw the World Championship wide open, and the title has changed hands in every season since.

Matthias Dolderer was first to leap into the gap, dominating 2016 to become the first German World Champion, as well as the first pilot ever to win the title with a race to spare. He clinched the trophy at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosted the Red Bull Air Race for the first time, with Hall again on the overall podium in second, and Arch in third.

The season opened with two more graduates of the Challenger Class promoted to the Master Class – Czech pilot Petr Kopfstein and Slovenia's Peter Podlunsek – whilst the season finale witnessed the retirement of Nigel Lamb after 64 races. Florian Bergér took the Challenger Cup, making the season a German double.
In an exhilarating 2017 campaign, two more former Challenger Cup pilots moved up for their first full season in the World Championship – Mika Brageot of France and Chile’s Cristian Bolton. A new rivlary intensified throughout the season between Sonka and Muroya, while Chambliss won two stops – including Kazan, the first race in Russia. Pete McLeod of Canada also enjoyed a quartet of podium finishes throughout the year.

At the season finale in Indianapolis, the opening round saw Sonka and Muroya go head to head. Muroya won the heat despite a penalty, but Sonka progressed as the fastest loser, and eventually both made it to the Final 4. Flying the last run of the season, Sonka couldn’t match a track record set by Muroya, and Asia celebrated its first World Championship, with Sonka second and McLeod rounding out the overall podium in third. Florian Bergér became the first pilot to claim back-to-back titles in the Challenger Cup.
The 2018 season was one of the tightest in the World Championship's history. Among those shaking things up was Ben Murphy, who finished seventh overall and delivered the best ever rookie campaign of any Challenger Class graduate. Going into the final race, just seven points separated the three pilots at head of the standings: America's Michael Goulian, the Czech Republic’s Sonka, and Australia’s Hall. For the second year in a row, the World Championship title came down to the final run of the last race, and this time, Sonka clinched the title, beating runner-up Hall by just 0.304s as Goulian finished third overall. Luke Czepiela became the first Polish pilot to take a Red Bull Air Race title, when he became Challenger Cup champion.
2019 was to be the final Red Bull Air Race season and was truncated to just four races – but every one of those races were packed with amazing high-G action and nail-biting finishes.

For the first time since 2010, World Championship points for Qualifying were back. The top three pilots in Qualifying we all awarded points. Three points for topping the Qualifying timesheet, two for second, and one point for third.

Yoshihide Muroya came storming out of the blocks and took the maximum 28 points in the first race by winning Qualifying and the Final 4. Martin Sonka was second and Michael Goulian third – with the podium looking very similar to the year before. Matt Hall was fifth in Abu Dhabi due to an engine issue, but from the start this season was set to be a battle.

Race two in Kazan saw Muroya take his second win of the season. Hall was second, and Sonka third. Goulian could only make 10th and with such a short season, it ended a realistic chance of the American taking a title.

Race three saw a new venue at Hungary’s Lake Balaton. Hall took the win, Ben Murphy claimed his first career podium in second, and Pete McLeod was third, with Sonka fourth. After two fantastic results, Muroya had a difficult run in the Round of 14 and finished down in 12th with only two points.

Going into the season finale, Sonka was leading the World Championship by four points ahead of Hall, and 10 points ahead of Muroya. Sonka added two more points when he finished second in Qualifying, but a disaster on Race Day saw him finish in 13th, ending ehis chance of claiming back-to-back titles.

It was just Muroya and Hall left to battle it out. Both went through to the Final 4, setting up a thrilling finale. For Hall to be crowned World Champion he needed to finish third, if Muroya won the race. Muroya went out and set a blistering time of 58.630s. Hall had to finish faster than McLeod, who had set a time of 1:04.028. Hall did just enough to claim that third place, meaning that although Muroya took the race win, Hall was finally crowned the Red Bull Air Race World Champion by just one point!