Chinese Grand PrixView

By on Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lotus F1 Team

Formula 1 has had a three-week break to reflect over the ‘Multi 21’ saga, a saga that will ultimately be further discussed at the third round of the season in China. Sebastian Vettel has repeatedly apologised for his actions in Malaysia but the team orders issue is likely to rumble on for longer than desired for Red Bull. Kimi Raikkonen splits the Red Bull drivers in the championship – largely thanks to his Australian victory – while Lewis Hamilton, the only achiever of a ‘hat-trick’ in China, is fourth after his first podium for Mercedes at Sepang. Team-mate Nico Rosberg returns to the site of his first pole position and win after dominating in 2012, while Red Bull’s extraordinary run of success all started at the Shanghai International Circuit when Vettel led Mark Webber home to record a 1-2 in tricky conditions in 2009. How Red Bull would love a repeat....

Chinese Grand Prix build up:

History

Scuderia Ferrari

The idea of a Chinese GP started in 1990s with a track which was built in southern China but failed to meet the FIA standards. During the spring of 2003, architectural and design experts began planning and visiting the area near Shanghai which - within 18 months - was transformed from swampland to an international racetrack. When completed in 2004, the Shanghai International Circuit was the most expensive Formula 1 circuit facility.

The inaugural race, held on September 26, attracted 260.000 spectators and was won by Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello. The following year it hosted the final round of the championship, when Fernando Alonso led from start to finish and claimed the constructors’ title for Renault. The 2006 race was Michael Schumacher’s 91st and final F1 victory. Lewis Hamilton’s title aspirations were given a huge dent when he infamously slid into the pit entry gravel trap in 2007 – handing the win to Raikkonen – but he made amends in 2008 and also won in 2011.

The Track

Shanghai International Circuit. Mercedes AMG Petronas

Shanghai International Circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, who is also responsible for penning other F1 tracks such as Sepang and Austin. The circuit provides drivers with a challenging mix of fast curves, tight corners and a long straight which requires good straightline speed, braking stability and traction. The swampland setting also means repairs must be made annually to prevent subsidence.

The track layout is based on the Chinese symbol “Shang”, the first character in the name of the city Shanghai, meaning “above” or “ascend”, resulting in a 16 turn circuit 5.451 km long. The circuit’s iconic corner is the seemingly never-ending Turn 1, while there will be two DRS zones: on the pit straight and the back straight. A few minor changes have taken place since last year’s event as painted ‘grass-crete’ will replace grass in a few places while all exit kerbs have been rounded to prevent tyre damage.

“It’s modern, of course, and there are some unusual corners, such as turn one - the long right hander,” says Force India’s Adrian Sutil, who has never scored a point in China. “You need to be perfect through these slow speed corners or you lose too much time. It’s wide and you can run some different lines through a lot of the corners, which is probably why it’s a track where you can overtake quite easily,” he added.

“The circuit has lots of corners, making it hard for the tyres and tricky for the drivers,” says 2009 winner Vettel. “Turns 12 and 13 are difficult to get right, as they demand a lot of technique, especially Turn 13 which leads into a really long straight.”

Stats & Facts

Hamilton won in China in 2008 and 2011

Eight different drivers have won in China held to date with Lewis Hamilton being the only one who triumphed at Shanghai more than once. Ferrari (2004, 2006, 2007) and McLaren (2008, 2010, 2011) have each won three times in Shanghai. Sebastian Vettel holds the record of most pole positions - 2009, 2010 and 2011 - and the fastest qualification lap: 1:33.706 (2011). The fastest race lap and also the lap record of the Shanghai International Circuit was set by Michael Schumacher in 2004 (1:32.238).

On five occasions the driver starting from pole has won the race and despite providing good overtaking opportunities, only once has a podium finisher started from outside the top ten when Webber rose from eighteenth to third.  Rosberg not only scored his maiden win in China last year, but he has led 46% of the racing laps in Shanghai across the past three events. Alonso and Webber have finished every race in China while Lotus’s Romain Grosjean scored his maiden points here last season. Mark Blundell will act as the FIA's driver steward this weekend.

Last year…

Rosberg claimed his first win in 2012. Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Having set a stunning time in qualifying, Nico Rosberg won last year’s race by 20 seconds, ahead of McLaren duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. It was Mercedes’ first victory since the 1955 Italian GP and Rosberg’s maiden F1 win, for which he waited 111 Grand Prix. Only four other drivers in F1 history have had to wait longer than him: Jenson Button (113), Jarno Trulli (117), Rubens Barrichello (124) and Mark Webber (131).

Mercedes locked out the front row in 2012 but their hopes of a one-two were dashed after Michael Schumacher was forced to retire when his wheel was not fitted correctly during a pit stop. Two stopping Kimi Raikkonen was the biggest loser of the race as his tyres started to lose grip during the final stint and he dropped from second place to 14th, the only occasion in 2012 when he failed to score a point. On a similar strategy, Sebastian Vettel was the first to pass him but the Red Bull driver couldn’t hold off either to the McLarens or to his team-mate who were all on fresher tyres from a three-stop strategy.

Timetable: (GMT+7)

Thursday 11 April

  • Drivers Press Conference: 1500

Friday 12 April

  • Practice 1: 10.00-11.30
  • Practice 2: 14.00 - 15.30

Saturday 13 April

  • Practice 3: 11.00-12.00
  • Qualifying: 14.00-15.00

Sunday 14 April

  • Race: 15.00

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