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by Tim Beissmann

Hollywood movie star Tom Cruise has jumped behind the wheel of a Red Bull Racing Formula One car during the F1 championship’s mid-season break.

With a steely, determined under-helmet expression reminiscent of Mark Webber and a shaggy hairstyle like world champion Sebastian Vettel, the 49-year-old Mission: Impossible actor reportedly fitted right in during the one-off test day earlier this month.

Under the guidance of 13-time grand prix winner and former Red Bull driver, David Coulthard, Cruise completed 24 laps of the Willow Springs race circuit in Rosamond, California across a seven-hour session.

Cruise started the day in a passenger car with Coulthard to familiarise himself with the racing lines before jumping behind the wheel. Throughout the day the team analysed his telemetry, and between lap one and lap 24, he improved his time by 11 seconds.

Cruise, who momentarily held the fastest lap time around the Top Gear test track, hit a top speed of 291km/h in the Red Bull Racing car, just 7km/h shy of Coulthard’s top speed at the track.

“Tom’s the real deal. I was surprised that he picked it up so quickly and is such an accomplished driver,” Coulthard said.

“His recall was incredible considering how complicated driving an F1 car is. He’s a guy who really pushes the envelope in real life. This day was not green screened. He thoroughly impressed me.”

Formula One returns to the US after a four-year layoff in 2012 with the United States Grand Prix in Texas. The teams will be back in action this weekend in Belgium.




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