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Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton & George Russell take flight in Barcelona with Ainslie's INEOS Britannia

by INEOS Britannia 19 Jun 21:13 BST 19 June 2024
Sir Lewis Hamilton, Sir Ben Ainslie, Toto Wolff and George Russell ready for sailing in Barcelona © Cameron Gregory

Today, Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell with Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff visited INEOS Britannia at their base in Barcelona as preparations continue ahead of the 37th America's Cup.

Hamilton, Russell and Wolff were welcomed by INEOS Britannia Team Principal and Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, along with INEOS founder, Sir Jim Ratcliffe who took them on a tour of the facilities, which included time in the team's sailing simulator, before George and Toto joined Sir Ben on the water.

George Russell then took his F1™ driving skills on water as he joined Ben Ainslie to put INEOS Britannia's America's Cup boat through its paces. While George usually searches for downforce on the track, today was all about lift as he took to the helm of 'Britannia' which flies above the water at speeds of 90+km/h. While Russell was at the wheel, Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff joined the squad of cycling sailors, known as cyclors, to help power the boat via the on-board bikes.

Sir Ben Ainslie said: "It was a privilege for all of us at INEOS Britannia to show Toto, Lewis, and George around our base here in Barcelona. They have been supporters of the project throughout, and it was therefore very fitting for us to give them a closer look at our race boat for the first time. It was great to get the guys out on the water today too; they know their way around a car but made sailing our AC75 look a touch too easy for my liking. We're always looking for new and emerging talent to take the helm, but I didn't realise we'd find it in the F1 paddock! It was a brilliant day and I look forward to supporting them all this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix."

The America's Cup is often referred to as F1™ on water, due to the huge emphasis on design and engineering to build the fastest boat. Through INEOS Sport, INEOS Britannia partnered with the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team's Applied Science division to bring together some of the best talent from the F1™ and sailing for the America's Cup. The partnership created a team of more than 100 designers and engineers who helped develop the race boat at the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 base in Brackley, Northamptonshire.

Toto commented: "Today has been an amazing experience. We've got our headquarters at Brackley where a lot of the INEOS Britannia design work takes place, but it has been brilliant to see the base here in Barcelona. This is where the action will take place later this year and the facilities the team has are excellent.

"I also thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a 'cyclor' (cycling sailor) on the team's AC75 race boat too. It is a real physical test and it's easy to forget just how athletic the team must be. We are all out-and-out racers. Whilst our core objective as a business is winning on land in F1, this is an exciting project with Sir Ben and Sir Jim, and we are delighted to be a part of it."

Lewis said: "It has been so exciting seeing the work of INEOS Britannia at the factory in Brackley over the past few years. To come here to Barcelona and see it all coming together, including the race boat for the first time, was so impressive. The technology involved is incredible and my mind is absolutely blown! I'm really excited to see how the team gets on later this year and I want to wish them the very best of luck in their pursuit of the America's Cup."

George added: "What an incredible experience! To get the opportunity to sail with Sir Ben and get a true sense of the speed and manoeuvrability of the INEOS Britannia AC75 Race Boat was amazing. It felt like we were floating through the air; it definitely got the blood pumping!

"There are many similarities between F1 and the America's Cup. They are the pinnacle of their respective sports and technical innovation is vital in both. The dedication and effort of the whole INEOS Britannia team was also clear to see, and I can't wait to watch them compete later in the year."

The America's Cup kicks off in Barcelona with the Preliminary Regatta on 22-25 August, where all six teams will race their AC75s against each other for the first time. The five challenging teams will then battle it out in The Louis Vuitton Cup (Challenger Selections Series 29 Aug - 7 Oct) to win the right to take on Defender Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton 37th America's Cup match (12-27 October).

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