Reigning world champion Max Verstappen and Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda went head-to-head in 900 horsepower V8 machines however, instead of duelling in F1, they travelled to the Florida Everglades for a unique hit of swamp buggy racing.
This weekend’s Miami Grand Prix is the first F1 race to ever be held in the American city with Dutchman Verstappen and Japanese driver Tsunoda heading two hours west to the city of Naples before the fifth stop of the 2022 season to enjoy a different form of high-octane competition.
Since 1949, the Florida Everglades has been home to swamp buggy racing with the F1 duo racing head-to-head in 900 horsepower V8 buggies with 68-inch wheels around a track submerged in standing water.
Verstappen and Tsunoda were joined by Supercross 250 East Champion Jett Lawrence and Tokyo skateboarding Olympian Zion Wright for a true Florida experience and showdown in the swamp.
After witnessing buggy power via a quick demo, the quartet learned how to operate them: a clutch, two gears and no brake before a practice lap and the first clash between Verstappen and American Wright.
Off the line it was all Wright, but a dramatic comeback by Verstappen clinched him the win with Tsunoda hot off the start next up causing the buggy to wheelie in the water as Lawrence immediately stalled and flooded his buggy putting Tsunoda through to the final.
Tsunoda was out front quickly – once again wheelieing his buggy – to get the jump on F1 rival Verstappen then held off the Oracle Red Bull Racing star down the final straight to close out the victory.
Verstappen, 24, said: “I was a bit shocked because I’d never seen something like it, but actually when I tried it, it was really cool. It’s pretty amazing to drive one of these.
It’s so different from what we are used to and something I’ve never seen before in my life and to jump into it for the first time and feel what the car is doing is pretty impressive. I’ve driven quite a few different types of cars, but this is another level for sure.”
Tsunoda, 21, revealed: “Swamp buggy racing was definitely the first time in my life, and I super enjoyed it – a solid day. Driving the buggy was like a jet ski; you can’t turn the car when you are full throttle, but it was easier than expected and I was able to adapt quite quickly.”