Racing’s ‘Beautiful Game’ On Display In Brazil
Brazil hosts the penultimate round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship, and a passionate and massive motorsports fan base cemented by the exploits of three-time champion Ayrton Senna, who was born in São Paulo, home of the Autódromo José Carlos Pace and the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Formula One is motorsports’ beautiful game. Purpose-built racecars housing a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 engine that spins at 15,000 rpm underneath the sinewy shape of a Coke-bottle designed exterior are available to an elite group of 20 drivers who travel to racetracks around the world wringing every ounce of speed from their machines in their quest for points and the ultimate goal of victory.
Haas F1 Team comes into São Paulo fresh off a self-described victory in the preceding Mexican Grand Prix, where driver Kevin Magnussen held off four-time champion Lewis Hamilton and two-time champion Fernando Alonso to finish eighth.
While eighth is a long way from a win, eighth seemed to be unreachable after Haas F1 team struggled mightily in the lead up to the Mexican Grand Prix. Magnussen and teammate Romain Grosjean qualified last among the drivers who posted times, with the 18th and 19th quickest times, respectively.
But come raceday, resiliency and tenacity allowed Magnussen to collect four valuable points in a beautiful drive that placed Haas F1 Team eighth in the constructors standings, one point behind the factory Renault team and only six points arrears sixth-place Toro Rosso.
Just as Pelé’s footwork on the pitch propelled Brazil to three of its five World Cups, Magnussen’s work on the track and that of his teammate Grosjean has resulted in 47 points for Haas F1 Team this year. It’s a tally that with still two races remaining is 18 points better than last year, which was the team’s inaugural Formula One season and the first for an American Formula One entity in 30 years.
Haas F1 Team finished eighth in the constructors standings last year, so the goal this year is to finish one spot better. Hitting the nice, round number of 50 points earned is also in sight.
Getting there, however, means successfully navigating the 4.309-kilometer (2.677-mile), 15-turn Interlagos circuit. It is one of the shortest laps on the Formula One calendar, but arguably the most intense.
The undulating course in Brazil’s largest city is a challenge for drivers and teams. It is run anticlockwise and consists of a twisty infield portion between turns six and 12, with three long straights between turns three and four, turns five and six, and off turn 14 down the frontstretch before the beginning of the Senna “S” in turn one.
Maximum downforce would be preferred through the tight and twisting section, but in order to maximize the straights, cars need to be trimmed out with as little drag as possible. Some downforce is already lost before a wheel is even turned, as São Paulo sits 800 meters (2,625 feet) above sea level.
All of this puts grip at a premium on the relatively bumpy track. Pirelli has brought its P Zero White medium, Yellow soft and Red supersoft tires to Brazil, with the softs and especially the supersofts expected to get the lion’s share of the work.
That work on the track, like a fútbol players’ work on the pitch, becomes art in Formula One. And for this coming weekend in Brazil, the beautiful game gets four wheels and a tightly packaged engine.
Haas F1 Team is intent on points at Interlagos, with the goal being betterment from last year. Brazil serves as a set piece for the American squad, with Magnussen and Grosjean ready to pen a points-paying finish in the penultimate round of the 2017 Formula One season.