WATCH: New Red Bull ad features a high-speed tour of the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Some critics though have voiced concern that the speeding Formula One car put Charles Bridge at risk of damage.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 16.06.2021 12:47 (updated on 16.06.2021)

Back in April, a Formula One racing car was spotted on Charles Bridge. The seven-minute video called From Castle to Castle, an advertisement for energy beverage Red Bull, has now been released on YouTube. While most viewers are pleased with the result, the filming itself caused some controversy.

The RB7 race car, with Scottish racing champion David Coulthard at the wheel, also visits Prague Castle and the does circles around David Černý’s Head of Kafka sculpture behind the Quadrio shopping mall before leaving Prague for sites in Bohemia, Moravia. The car makes its way to Slovakia, speeding on winding roads in the Tatra mountains before ending up at Bratislava Castle Red Bull Air Race world champion Martin Šonka also appears, flying his Extra 300SR plane upside down.

Other scenes take place in a studio, with local actor Jeff Koch playing an executive pitching the idea for the ad to Coulthard and Šonka, and narrating. The spot was written and directed by Markus Krug, who is known for his involvement in One Man Show.

“The great thing about this film is that it's all real. When the aircraft is just a few metres above the RB7 and upside down, that's real, that's the skill of Martin. He's a professional right at the top of his game,” Coulthard said in a press release.

“I really enjoy the fact that I have the opportunity to showcase the Formula One car across different countries and here in the Czech Republic and Slovakia we’re on cobbled streets, dusty tracks and some beautiful scenery in the mountains. It's been incredible and From Castle to Castle has been like a journey of discovery for me, as well as a showcasing what an F1 car can do off-track,” he added.

Should Charles Bridge be rented out for risky stunts?

It shouldn’t be rented out at all. 20 %
Standard filming is fine but not stunt driving. 13 %
Approval of stunts is fine on a case-by-case basis. 60 %
Anyone who pays the fee can use the bridge. 6 %
98 readers voted on this poll. Voting is closed

At the time of the filming, some people were opposed to renting out Charles Bridge as a drag strip. The scene not only risked damage to the 14th-century stone bridge, but it also disrespected the bridge’s historical value.

Red Bull, however, claims the film not only serves as an advertisement for their products but also as promotion for tourism to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and that the use of iconic locations highlights both countries’ culture.

Charles Bridge, like many city-owned monuments, can be rented for private use, but requests aren’t always granted. Red Bull reportedly paid CZK 250,000 to use the bridge.

After the Formula One car appeared on Charles Bridge on April 21, Prague City Councilor Hana Třeštíková, in charge of culture, told news server iDnes.cz that Prague City Hall did not agree with the ride, but the Red Bull executives obviously made a deal with the town hall of the Prague 1 district, where the bridge is situated.

Many municipal monuments are managed by both Prague City Hall and the individual districts. Usually, both agree on the use of the location.

"It was a standard request, just like when some films are made, such as Spider-Man, Anthropoid and others. The applications are assessed, the City Council always deals with it, including the opinion of the association of artists of the Charles Bridge," Richard Bureš, a Prague 1 councilor, said at the time.

While the makers of Spider-Man: Far from Home, like Red Bull, were granted access, fashion house Louis Vuitton in 2006 had to move their planned party to another location after public outcry over the bridge being closed for a private event. Damage to Prague’s historical monuments during filming or private events is rare, but some minor incidents have occurred.

Red Bull said that the filming did not cause any damage either in Prague or the other locations.

“Even if the monopost car is traveling fast on the historic pavement of Prague Castle or swirling sand in the protected Lednice-Valtice area, the filmmakers have left no trace behind them except an indelible tribute to the rich cultural heritage of the Czech and Slovak Republics," Red bull said.

Most filmmakers use the bridge in the early morning to both avoid crowds of onlookers and cause a minimum of inconvenience.

The final video, while less than eight minutes long, is the result of dozens of hours of filming. Aside from views of castles and historical sites, there are some brief stops to see traditional village culture and costumes.

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