As the world of professional motorsport progresses more and more into the world of futuristic gadgets and gizmos, the cars begin to look less like something you’d expect to pass on the motorway, and more like something you’d expect to see on the runway. But how do they compare to one of the world’s most powerful fighter jets?
Audi driver André Lotterer, a three-time Le Mans winner, and Geri Krähenbühl, the Eurofighter Typhoon’s chief test pilot, met to compare machines. Krähenbühl trained at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and is one of only a handful of people in the world qualified to fly the Messerschmitt ME262 – the world’s first production fighter jet. Sitting inside the Audi R18, he said: ‘I was a bit shocked by how little you can see out of it. I also found all the buttons pretty confusing. The clutch and a few other switches are intuitive, even for me, but the rest of the operating logic is extremely unfamiliar to me.’
Lotterer, who set the fastest lap record at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2015, was similarly confused in the cockpit of the jet: ‘Obviously the sheer extent of the instruments and possibilities are fascinating. You can hardly compare a car, which moves in two dimensions, to an aircraft that moves in three dimensions. Perhaps people who already have a pilot’s licence would be able to grasp the operating logic faster. I don’t have one, so a jet cockpit is something entirely new to me.’ The entire interview, plus in-depth information about the spectacular Audi R18, can be found on Encounter, The Audi Technology Magazine.
The two vehicles don’t appear to have all that much in common, other than the equally confusing controls. ‘The aerodynamics of a race car are entirely focused on ensuring it doesn’t take off, while, in flying, we want to get off the ground as quickly as possible,’ said Krähenbühl, pointing out the fundamental difference between the two machines. One thing everyone can agree on, though, is how fast they can both move; the Eurofighter and the R18 take off, as Krähenbühl puts it, ‘like a bat outa hell.’
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