ON THE LIMIT: RED BULL ROARS THROUGH BELFAST

We sent Red Bull Reporter Ben Croucher to cover the recent Showrun in Belfast, here’s his take on formula one in Northern Ireland and DC himself…

They say F1 street circuits are all about the glitz and glamour of Monaco or the style and scenery in Valencia. But it was the vibrancy and energy of Belfast's boulevards that witnessed David Coulthard and his Red Bull light up a spectacular night in the Irish capital.

Billed as "an unforgettable display of speed," the Scottish pilot wowed the crowd with a dazzling display, performing countless 360s and driving at speeds in excess of 140mph.

Despite having 247 grands prix under his belt, Coulthard said the challenge of taking on Belfast's bumpy roads still excited him: "It's a real adrenaline rush and a big responsibility because it's a fast, powerful car and this isn't its typical terrain.

"It's actually more difficult to drive it here on the streets than it is on the racetrack. You've got to deal with the bumps and be really careful," said the Scot.

Coulthard's seismic crash through the city was the centrepiece of the F1 feast provided by Red Bull in Belfast. Fans of the sport were treated to a rare chance to see the RB5 up close and personal throughout the day in the Red Bull garage erected outside the picturesque City Hall. The buzz around Belfast was only hushed when the mechanics fired up the engine to demonstrate the ferocious roar from the Red Bull.

For many fans, it was their first glimpse of F1 machinery in the flesh, including 11-year-old Cameron McCaig. "I thought it was class. It looked really good! It's the first time I've seen a Formula One car and it's really cool."

In capturing the imagination of hundreds of youngsters, Coulthard was keen to highlight the success of Red Bull's Young Driver programme, which has helped nurture some of the world's most talented racers into F1 superstars. With the likes of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Vettel having progressed through the system, was DC jealous that similar programmes weren't about when he was trying to break into the sport?

"I'm not jealous no! Whilst you're feeling jealous, you're actually missing out on making something happen," said the BBC pundit.
"I'm old enough to look now and say that some of the younger drivers don't know how difficult it was but that's just the reality of it. The route to Formula One is more mapped out than it was. Everybody gets opportunities in life. You've just got to take it when it comes."

Coulthard said that the Red Bull City Limits event could inspire the future generation of Vettels and Webbers: "I always enjoy events like these. As a kid I would have loved to have gone out and seen a Grand Prix car in person," said the 38-year-old.

But it's not just the kids that are attracted by the lure of motorsport's elite. Even the big kids enjoy it too! "The car is bigger than I expected but the cockpit is tiny! I didn't think it was so small," remarked Anna, 24, from Belfast.

As the day was overtaken in its battle with the twilight and Belfast's lights illuminated the barren streets, over 15,000 spectators began lining the pavements in front of Belfast's iconic City Hall to catch a glimpse of the Red Bull machinery in action. Whilst the capital's cold tarmac tasted the Red Bull rubber, 10,000 miles away in the warmer climate of Melbourne, Red Bull Racing and sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso were gearing up for the second race of the 2010 season.

After an anti-climactic opening race, Coulthard is optimistic the racing will live up to the hype: "I was really excited before Bahrain, but it didn't turn out to be the best of races. I'm optimistic that the FIA and the drivers will make some improvements and make the racing better."

And Coulthard had his own suggestions to improve the on track action.

"These are fast and sophisticated cars, but the only real mistake the driver can make now is not going on the power early enough or braking too late. I think if you had a manual gearbox there's another element. I tested a DTM (German touring car) recently with a manual box and it made me realise just how big the challenge is," said the 13-time grand prix winner.

However, his biggest challenge was yet to come - pleasing the Irish fans! Some had climbed trees; some were precariously perched on lampposts, and some simply rested on their dad's shoulders. Wherever the location, the deafening punch of the Renault V8 engine could be heard for miles as Coulthard emerged from the garage to a cacophony of cheers from the appreciative audience.

He charged his Red Bull up and down the Belfast course, rupturing through red lights and entertaining the masses with a series of breathtaking manoeuvres, firmly on the limit.

After three short stints, dozens of doughnuts, thousands of priceless photographs and many a sore eardrum, Coulthard called a halt to his Irish escapade, emerging from the car and waving to his adoring tifosi in the perfect farewell.

But as he and his car assaulted the defenceless Belfast streets, you couldn't help feel your own senses were being attacked by the blistering forces emitting from the RB5.

The gorgeous bodywork sparkled with every flash of the camera, the fiery crackle of the engine echoed around the capital's man-made cauldron, the smouldering smell of burning rubber lingered in the nostrils, whilst every fan got a taste of what Red Bull Racing and Formula One is all about.

Red Bull didn't just reach the City Limits in Belfast – they smashed them!

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