The legacy of the Great Circus

Since March, and extended at least until July 16, the first official Formula 1 exhibition has been exhibited at IFEMA. an exhibition with 350 objects from teams and pilots that include cars, helmets, overalls, mechanical elements or devices that help explain the immense technological legacy of the greatest show on earth. In an hour and a half, a route seasoned with videos, images and audio guide is covered that pivots on a capital piece: the chassis of the Haas VF-20 that Romain Grosjean drove in Bahrain 2020, or what remains of it, after being embedded in the guardrail and catch fire in one of the most dangerous accidents in recent times.

The piece, burned but with its geometries intact, is accompanied by the video images of that ball of fire that for minutes left F1 breathless. The security cell overcame the crash and saved the life of the French pilot that day, who only had to regret the superficial burns on his skin. It was not a miracle, but rather the result of technological advances that have driven this sport in its 73-year history.

“The most shocking thing in my opinion is, of course, Romain Grosjean’s burnt-out chassis,” says Carlos Sainz, who recently visited the show: “It’s a great reminder of how dangerous this sport can be, despite all the modern safety measures. It is also a reminder of what we pilots have at stake every time we go out for a run”. “I’m a big fan of vintage F1 cars and parts, so it was great to see so many on display. The development and technological advances of F1 are truly unique and are unmatched by any other sport”, sums up the man from Madrid.

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The most recent car is not a pleasant memory for Sainz: he presides over the first room the Alpha Tauri AT01 with which Pierre Gasly snatched victory at the 2020 Italian GP. There are two other complete cars: Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari F1/87, imposing, and the sixties Lotus 49B. Other mechanical elements shine with their own light, from the open gearbox of Williams to the naked power units of Mercedes or Ferrari, which contrast with the old but simple V8 engines.

There are also dozens of videos for explain from the operation of the ailerons to the physics of the ‘ground effect’. Or Mika Hakkinen’s secret to flying in Spa-Francorchamps: “All my laps were perfect,” summarizes the Finn after reeling off every meter of the Ardennes track. More single-seaters are missing (the Fernando Alonso Museum in Oviedo shows more than twenty) and also details towards local drivers in an exhibition that is international in nature and can be moved to other European capitals. In any case, it convinces both the old-school ‘petrolhead’ fan and the new batch that got hooked through the Netflix series (tickets from 25 euros), judging by the comments that come from the fans who visited it . F1 is in fashion… and it suits Madrid well.

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