April 17th 2016, 8am
On April 17th at 8am the once christened ‘circuit for the new millennium’ will host the third round of this year’s F1 Grand Prix. At the time of it’s construction in 2004 it was the most expensive track in Formula One; spectators can marvel, before the race, at the stunning surroundings – the team buildings arranged like pavilions in a lake, resembling the ancient Yuyan-Garden.
The Track Itself
Another Tilke design – a ‘Shang’ shaped track of winding turns, up-hill corners and high speed, super-long straights – offering vital overtaking opportunities and promising lots of excitement. As does one of the trickiest corner combinations in F1.
Another busy 29,000 seated grandstand – a sign of China’s growing interest in F1 – are expected and will hope to be entertained.
Clash of the Titans!
Lewis Hamilton has won the previous two races here. Last year Nico Rosberg accused his team mate of deliberately inhibiting his race by purposely slowing down during the middle section. It appeared a particularly controlled victory with Hamilton driving just fast enough, only speeding up after his two pit stops.
Focusing on his starts during practice has proved fruitful for Nico Rosberg, that, together with the early problems of his competitors has given him the early initiative – with two wins out of two. Winning in Shanghai would give him his 6th consecutive victory – putting him only behind Michael Schmacher, Alberto Ascari and Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton will be hoping for his first decent start of the season, mindful of the need to stop Rosberg getting away from him yet again. Rosberg will also be aware that in 2014 he held and lost several leads over Hamilton which eventually cost him the title.
Fans will also be hoping for a return of McLaren superstar Fernando Alonso following his dramatic crash in Australia.
And which team will make better use of the new tyre rules – choosing the perfect combination of medium, soft, super-soft throughout the race?
Tyre Choices for Chinese GP:
Hamilton: 4x medium, 4x soft, 5x super-soft
Rosberg: 3x medium, 5x soft, 5x super-soft
Vettel and Raikkonen: 3x medium, 4x soft, 6x super-soft
Grosjean and Massa: 1x medium, 5x soft, 7x super-soft
Sauber: 5x medium, 4x soft, 4x super-soft
The New Qualifying System is No More!
Last Thursday (7th April) the highly unpopular new qualifying format was scrapped – with all 11 teams voting to revert back to the 2015 method. This had been an attempt by the organisers to shake things up by trying to inject an element of randomness into the proceedings. FIA president Jean Todt and Ecclestone initially refused to comply – but eventually had no choice but to concede.
With the Mercedes teammates busy preparing their own title battle; Ferrari are planning to introduce a major upgrade – hopefully to put an end to their temperamental engine issues – but we’ll have to wait until the Spanish Grand Prix next month for that. For Shanghai they’ll just have to hope that there will not be a repeat of the major issues they have suffered in the last two races.
The 2016 Formula One season is already promising more than had been predicted.
Five days until qualifying seems too long to wait to find out what happens next….