[F1 2017 NEWS] BRAZIL GRAND PRIX: RACE PREVIEW

Arguably the greatest Grand Prix driver of all-time -- the memory of three- time F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna continues to inspire, with homage paid annually in the lead up to the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Senna’s popularity transcended the sport - and inspired a global audience with his supreme abilities - often pushing well beyond the limit in his quest for excellence and dominant victories.

But while his tragic death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix is one of the sport’s darkest moments, Senna lives on in spirit.

SOUNDBITE (Italian) GIANCARLO FISICHELLA, F1 DRIVER, 1996-2009:
“I believe he left a mark on the whole world, and all drivers take him as a reference point. He was a champion on-track - and as a human being. We will never forget him.”

The Brazilian’s legacy is also honoured by fellow 4-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who’s now an ambassador for the Ayrton Senna Institute - which seeks to expand opportunities in Brazil through education.

SOUNDBITE: (English) LEWIS HAMILTON, 4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION: 
"He was the guy who I noticed when I was kid, and I just loved what he did - firstly, how he drive but how he was as a human being ‘cos he made a big difference in how he inspired the people in Brazil.”

But others from Brazil have been inspired to do the same, with 31 drivers from the world’s fifth biggest country starting a Grand Prix.

…three of whom became F1 world champion, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Senna.

Felipe Massa, Brazil’s only active driver, came close in 2008 - winning the final round at Interlagos - but Lewis Hamilton, then with McLaren, finished fifth on the last lap, securing the points he needed for the title.

Massa, though has won his home event twice, for Ferrari, his first coming in 2006, which to him felt like a world championship.

SOUNDBITE: (English) FELIPE MASSA,
FERRARI DRIVER 2006-2013:
"Remember (Ayrton) Senna, he took (a) long time to win at home, you know, and when he won he was like, you know, you know, the feeling was like to win a championship and this was my feeling.”

São Paulo is F1’s current Brazilian home, but former Olympic Games host Rio de Janeiro has had its time on the calendar.
São Paulo’s Interlagos was the first to host in 1973 - until a single event at Rio’s Jacarepaguá in 1978. Rio then had a stint from 1981 to 1989, before a return to São Paulo from 1990.

The track’s natural amphitheatre making for panoramic views, and thrilling battles as the cars blast out of the final turn onto the sweeping straight.

4-time F1 World Champion Alain Prost is the top man in Brazil on six wins - five at Rio’s Jacarepaguá. Michael Schumacher’s four - were all secured at Interlagos. Argentine Carlos Reutemann has three.

Pole position is not crucial for victory in Brazil, with 13 wins from pole in 34 races - including the last four, 2016 being Lewis Hamilton’s first win there.

The Brit was followed home in the wet by former teammate Nico Rosberg, and Max Verstappen - who passed 11 drivers in the last 14 laps.

The 35th Brazilian Grand Prix is expected to be another thriller - as 2017’s penultimate round, a chance for drivers to showcase their talents - and help secure a race seat next year.