Yin Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. You can’t have day without night and, similarly, you can’t have good without bad. Balance is achieved when these competing interests are placed together.
Haas F1 Team comes into the Chinese Grand Prix April 9 at Shanghai International Circuit seeking balance. After both its drivers failed to finish the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, the yang of a double DNF (Did Not Finish) in the first round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship needs to be offset with the yin of a points-paying performance in Shanghai.
Drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are emphatic such a result is possible. Their disappointment in Australia was neutralized by the speed and potential of the Haas VF-17. The second-generation racecar built by Haas F1 Team was quick enough to be at the top of the midfield behind only the sport’s giants – Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Proof was Grosjean’s sixth-place qualifying effort, which placed him ahead of Williams, Toro Rosso, Force India, Renault, McLaren and Sauber. It was also the best qualifying performance in Haas F1 Team’s history, with the American outfit having made its debut in last year’s Australian Grand Prix.
Grosjean was unable to capitalize on the stellar qualifying effort, as a water leak ended his race after only 13 laps. Magnussen, meanwhile, also felt the speed of the Haas VF-17, but in trying to wring the most out of the Ferrari-powered machine, he went wide at turn 12 during his qualifying runs, shackling himself with a 17th-place starting spot. Deep in the field and jockeying for position on the opening lap, contact with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson sent Magnussen into the turn-three gravel trap. Magnussen powered through the gravel and eventually returned to the track, but well down the running order. Then 11 laps short of the finish, a right-front tire puncture forced Magnussen to retire his racecar.
Nonetheless, both drivers were effusive about the Haas VF-17 after the race.
“There’s huge potential in the car,” Grosjean said.
“The car is there,” Magnussen added. “We just have to make it finish and score points.”
With the racecar proving to be the yin of their Australian Grand Prix, Grosjean and Magnussen rightly carry optimism and experience into China. Grosjean has five career Formula One starts at the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn circuit. Three times he has finished in the points, with his best result being a sixth-place drive in 2012. Magnussen has two starts at Shanghai, with a top finish of 13th in 2014.
Achieving points in China will involve continuing the pace set in Australia while solving the conundrum presented by Shanghai’s “snail corners” and its massive backstraight. The snail corners both look like a snail and force drivers to take a snail’s pace around them – at least by Formula One standards. These corners, which comprise turns 1-4 and turns 11-13, are juxtaposed with the 1.4-kilometer (.869 of a mile) backstraight – the longest in Formula One. There, drivers eclipse 320 kph (200 mph) before heavy braking into the turn-14 hairpin. Securing the downforce needed to maximize these vastly divergent elements, along with the other in-between aspects of the track, is akin to balancing on a razor blade.
It’s a track that features plenty of yin yang characteristics. Balance is key, and it’s why Haas F1 Team is taking a balanced approach to the second race of its sophomore season.