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Tom Cruise stars in secret Red Bull test 23 Aug 2011

Tom Cruise (USA) tests a Red Bull Formula One car, Willow Springs, California, USA, August 15,2011 Tom Cruise (USA) tests a Red Bull Formula One car, Willow Springs, California, USA, August 15,2011 Tom Cruise (USA) tests a Red Bull Formula One car, Willow Springs, California, USA, August 15,2011

Red Bull have revealed that Hollywood legend Tom Cruise recently tried out one of their Formula One cars in a specially organised test in the United States. Cruise took a break from his current film project, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, to get behind the wheel at the Willow Springs circuit in California.

Cruise’s instructor for the seven-hour session was Formula One veteran David Coulthard. They began by lapping the track together in a road car before Coulthard helped Cruise familiarise himself with the F1 machine, which was supported by a 12-person crew flown in from Red Bull’s UK factory.

After a total of 24 laps, with time out between track stints to compare his telemetry to Coulthard’s, Cruise cut his initial lap time by an impressive 11 seconds and reached a top speed of 181 mph, just 4 mph short of Coulthard.

"Tom's the real deal,” Coulthard told Red Bull’s website. “I was surprised that he picked it up so quickly and is such an accomplished driver. 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."

Cruise, a long-time motorsport fan, has driven several competition cars over the years, but this was his first F1 experience. Formula One returns to his homeland next year with a race at the all-new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.