A few amazing facts about São Paulo… First is its choice of high-end transport, and when we talk about high end, we really do mean high. In a city of 22 million people the traffic on the roads can be truly abysmal, so the city’s high rollers choose to avoid the daily grind altogether by flitting by helicopter between landing pads on the top of the city’s multitude of towering skyscrapers.
Amazing fact number two: São Paulo, despite being primarily known for the twin obsessions of football and motorsport, is also a thriving hub of Capoeira, a uniquely Brazilian and wonderfully graceful fusion of martial arts, acrobatics, dance and music.
Amazing fact number three: yesterday we managed to persuade Daniel and Max to mix both of the above by taking on the challenge of an action-packed lesson in Capoeira from some locals, and to do it on the helipad at the top of one of the city’s impressive high-rises.
However, while we were lucky in that both drivers have a head for heights, it soon became apparent that despite the best efforts of Red Bull athlete Arthur Fiu and his team of top capoeiristas our drivers are about as graceful as an elephant on roller skates.
“We were basically trying to learn the flow, the basic steps,” said Daniel of the moves Arthur demonstrated for them. “It’s kind of dance mixed with martial arts and it seems like it has constant flow, constant movement. It’s very fluid.
“The movement, I could grasp, but flexibility was the hardest thing. Us race car drivers don’t have very good flexibility,” he added. “Most of our life we sit in a very constrained position, we’re always really tight through the legs, so trying to do kicks, my hamstrings would only allow me to do half a kick!”
And Daniel was frank about his ability to match Arthur’s incredible moves. “If I’m being realistic I was about a four out of ten,” he laughed. “Enough to get my belt, but I believe this belt was actually given on looks rather than performance. I’d like to think I was better than Max, but we should get the public to vote. No, wait, they’re all pointing at me, so it’s obvious I won.”
And indeed, Max was devastatingly harsh about his own performance, but also Daniel’s. “I’ve never really seen Capoeira on TV or anything, so it was really my first exposure to it,” said the Dutchman. “It was really enjoyable, but you quickly realise that you’re not made for it. I was pretty bad, but at least I tried!
“My performance was a one out of ten, because I’m quite strict with myself, quite realistic,” he added. “Actually, I think we were both really bad!”
With good Capoeira technique eluding them, Max and Daniel will instead be looking to make their best moves on the track at Interlagos this weekend.
“I feel like I’m yet to get a really strong result here,” said Daniel. “It’s a bit like Malaysia. I’d never had a strong result there and then I won last year so I’m kind of hoping this weekend can give me something of a similar calibre.”
Max, meanwhile, returns to Interlagos after an outstanding race to third in wet conditions last year and off the back of a fantastic win in Mexico two weeks ago.
“I had a good time last year and in general I’ve always enjoyed the track here,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it, especially after the win in Mexico. We’ll try to get on the podium again.”