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Formula One

2018 Chinese Grand Prix Preview

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Momentum? Ferrari has had a great start so far by winning the first two contests of the season.

Needs A Good Run? Mercedes has been the class of the field for years now. If they don’t win in Shanghai, look for major changes at the Silver Arrows. Speaking of which, Red Bull had a horrible race in Bahrain, so improvement in China is expected.

Sentimental Favorite?  None. It’s a young race, only run since 2004. Curiously, Ferrari’s sole victory back in 2013 happened with Fernando Alonso at the wheel, so they can’t count on brand popularity they have in other countries where they are also frequent victors.

Challenges? Turning a profit comes to mind. A brand-new contract was signed last year to bring a Formula One race to the Asian major power through 2020. Look to Shanghai organizers to beef up their attendance.

Quotes:

“We head to China for the first back-to-back race of the season. The Shanghai International Circuit is a great track with some demanding high-speed corners and a long back straight which is traditionally good for overtaking. It is an important race as it is an exciting new market for Formula one with a rapidly growing fan base. It has produced some thrilling races over the years especially because the weather can be a bit challenging which tends to give some twists to the weekend. It can also be very cold at this time of year – one of the coldest races of the season – so always remember to bring your warm clothes to China!” Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer, Williams Martini Racing

“Shanghai is a track that for some reason I didn’t initially get to grips with but over the years it’s become a track I enjoy more and more. It’s a super technical track, turns 1 and 2 are pretty crazy and hard on the front tyres but if you can manage that you’re normally in for a good race. I’m still yet to get a podium there but it’s always a track I’ve had good speed on so hopefully we will have a good chance with the RB14. There are also some pretty hardcore fans in China and they get me to sign random photos from when I look about 16 walking around shopping centres somewhere in the world. I have no idea how they manage to get their hands on pictures like that, but the fans who come to the track are super passionate which is always nice to see. It’s also a really big and crazy city so I’m definitely going to try and explore a bit more of that this year.” Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull driver

“Shanghai is a really good circuit to overtake. It always offers lots of opportunities. My favourite part is Turns 7 and 8 – the fast ones in the middle. It’s a pretty good section of the track. [More challenging are] Turns 1, 2 and 3. It’s a pretty unique place, where you enter so fast and then have to stop the car in the corner all the way down to low speed.” Kevin Magnussen

“I think our team showed the right reaction after the chequered flag in Bahrain: instead of being satisfied with the double podium finish, everyone realised that P2 and P3 was the minimum result we should expect with both Red Bulls and Kimi out of the race. So we started to analyse what went wrong in Bahrain in order to improve for China and come back stronger.
We’re quite happy that this is a back-to-back race as that means that we won’t have to wait long to get racing again. Shanghai has been a good track for us in the past, so hopefully we will get the chance to right some of the wrongs of the past weeks and show a performance that is worthy of Mercedes.” Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“The new wider range of 2018 P Zero compounds have allowed us to come up with some nominations this year where there is a gap in the tyres selected: in the case of China, alongside the medium, we jump from soft to ultrasoft, leaving out the supersoft. There’s quite a big gap from medium to the softer compounds, which are quite close together (with the exception of the hypersoft). So, by missing out the supersoft in China, we end up with three choices that are quite evenly spaced out, which in turn opens up several different possibilities for strategy. These strategy calculations have of course already begun, with teams selecting different quantities of the ultrasoft heading into the race, and we could also see some different approaches to qualifying as well. With China being an unpredictable race anyway, thanks to a number of different overtaking opportunities and notoriously variable weather, this tyre nomination introduces another parameter, which should hopefully contribute to an even better spectacle.” Mario Isola, Pirelli Head of Car Racing

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenwheel.com, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.

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