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The Chinese Grand Prix has been a part of the Formula 1 calendar since 2004, and always held in Shanghai. The track is a typical modern Hermann Tilke-designed track, and purposely built for F1 with a clockwise run including 16 corners and at 5.45 kilometers long.
It’s also high speed with some very long corners on it. Namely turns 1-4 and turns 12 and 13. This means you need a car with a good mechanical and aero balance – otherwise, unusual tyre degradation will affect your race performance. There is a massive long back straight, which will see cars reach 330kph. With a slow 60kph hairpin following it, brakes are important, as drivers will experience over 5g in deceleration there.
It’s pretty obvious that Nico Rosberg will arrive in China on a high after winning the first two races of the season. He is in a great position as he is pressure free and driving well. If he can out perform his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, and perhaps snatch another win, things will really start to look good for Rosberg in the Championship. He likes the track in Shanghai, and also claimed his first pole and win in F1 here in 2012.
The big question is whether Ferrari can challenge for the victory. We saw in Bahrain that on race pace, they are really close to Mercedes. With Shanghai being pretty similar to Bahrain in terms of lay out, it’s reasonable to assume that it will be close again between the two teams on Sunday with Mercedes having the edge in qualifying.
What it may come down to is how hot the track will get on Sunday. Ferrari has slightly better tyre wear in hot conditions, while Mercedes seem to find better pace in cooler ones.
It’s expected that tyre wear is going to be a lot worse here compared to the first two races. With the top eight drivers expected to start on the super soft compound tyre. This could lead to some quite different strategies in the race. We could see these leading teams even stopping within the first five laps if the super soft doesn’t last. If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them four stopping during the race.
It should be another very exciting race really. Let’s not forget that behind the big two, it’s anybody’s guess on how that order will play out. Will Williams get on top of their strategy decisions? And can Red Bull Racing beat out the rest again, despite lacking in straight-line speed? How about McLaren or Toro Rosso? Could they surprise us all?
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