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F1: Chinese GP - Shanghai International

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F1: Chinese GP - Shanghai International

Post by Abdulla on 12th April 2015, 10:07 am

Two weeks after the Malaysian GP Race 3 of the 2015 FIA Formula 1 season takes place this Sunday afternoon at the Shanghai International Circuit, 30km north-west of Shanghai, for the 12th Chinese F1 GP.
Shanghai International Circuit is a Hermann Tilke design intended at the time to set the benchmark for all F1 circuits, a true 21st-century Grand Prix venue. The US$450m circuit, completed in May 2004, was built from swamp land to an international standard race circuit in just 18 months. It forms the centrepiece of an area earmarked for development as an ‘Auto City’. The first ever Chinese F1 GP held in September 2004 was won by Rubens Barrichello in a Ferrari. Shanghai also hosts a round of the World Endurance Championship.

The circuit is dominated by the 430m / 29,000 capacity main grandstand linked to the pit building by two wings over the track. One wing contains the media centre and the other a restaurant. The wings are supported by two towers containing the race control and the circuit's administration offices. The 36-garage pit building houses the Paddock Club on its top floor. The F1 Paddock behind the pit building has 26 team 'houses' arranged like pavilions in a lake to resemble the ancient Yuyan-Garden in Shanghai. Other grandstands, some with distinctive lotus leaf roof panels, around the circuit add to a total spectator capacity of 200,000. Reported attendance over the three days last year was 180,000. The current contract for Shanghai to host the F1 GP runs until 2017.

The circuit, inadvertently inspired by the Chinese symbol 'Shang' which represents 'above' or 'high', has a wide range of turns, from slow hairpins to high speed sweepers. It can be set up for nine different configurations. The 16-turn F1 circuit has two long straights, the 320kmh 600m start-finish straight and the 335kmh (19s) 1175m back straight, as well as unique 270deg double apex Turns 1-2 and Turns 12-13. The main braking zones are the hairpins at Turn 6 (290kmh to 70kmh), Turn 11 (270kmh to 85kmh) and Turn 14 (323kmh to 85kmh). Turn 11 is the tightest at a radius of only 8.8m. The exit speed from Turn 13 sets up speed for the long back straight and Turn 14 hairpin is important for the start-finish straight. The lap record is 1:32.238 (ave 212.749 kmh) by Michael Schumacher in 2004.

Previous winners of the Chinese F1 GP include Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. The current F1 drivers who have won at Shanghai are Alonso (2005, 2013), Raikkonen (2007), Hamilton (2008, 2011, 2014), Vettel (2009), Button (2010) and Rosberg (2012).

The track surface is described as smooth and the grip will change as more rubber is laid down through the sessions. The long low and medium speed turns can cause graining of the tyres due to the simultaneous turning and braking or accelerating. The circuit is similar to Sepang (another Tilke design) so medium to high aero setups should favour the turns rather than the straights. Engine stress, brake and tyre wear are all described as medium. 55% of the lap is run at full throttle. The circuit is wide (13-15m) with good runoff areas and overtaking should not be a problem.

Pirelli tyre compounds for this weekend are 'medium' and 'soft'. For best grid positions the teams will as always run the softer tyre in qualifying. Last year Hamilton won on a two-stop 'soft-medium-medium' strategy and a total of 45 pit stops averaged 22.98s. Depending on the ambient conditions a likely two-stop strategy of 12 'soft' and 22+22 'medium' laps should be preferred.
The DRS zones this weekend should be the same as last year – the first on the final two-thirds of the 1175m back straight to Turn 14 and the second on the start-finish straight to Turn 1.

In other news the much publicised Renault – Red Bull finger pointing seems to have abated with both sides conceding the need to improve, together. Red Bull has a contract with Renault until the end of 2016. Ecclestone also made the news with suggestions as to how the sport might be spiced-up, including points for qualifying, artificially wet races, changes to the race weekend format and a championship for women. It was no surprise Carmen Jorda supported the women’s F1 Championship idea and Susie Wolff did not. Meanwhile Simona de Silvestro is back in Indy cars for the Indianapolis 500.

In Malaysia the extreme track temperatures, better tyre degradation, two-stop strategy and an early safety car all played a part in the Ferrari win. Mercedes were caught out by the number of cars which stayed out during the safety car period and had to work hard through traffic to catch the Ferrari. The three-stop strategy and the conservative power unit settings, would not have helped. Next best were Williams (+70s), Toro Rosso and Red Bull (+1lap). Lotus beat Sauber and Force India. Only one Manor started and finished the race but both McLarens failed to finish.

In the much cooler conditions in Shanghai expect Mercedes to resume the lead over Ferrari. Williams, Lotus and Sauber have much work to do catch up. Renault promises more improvement and Toro Rosso and Red Bull need all the improvement they can get. Force India continues to struggle with aero performance and McLaren and Manor continue to struggle with everything. For the podiums expect Hamilton to have a tougher fight with Rosberg and Vettel to have a tougher fight with Raikkonen.

As teams are slowly getting on top of their power unit reliability issues the cooler weather should also allow them to be turned up a notch. Also expect Shanghai to finally have a full grid of 20 cars and, hopefully, more than 15 finishers.

Penalties >
New Power Units Used > Ricciardo, Kvyat, Alonso, Button (2); all others (1)
Gearboxes > Kvyat, Raikkonen, Alonso, Verstappen, Grosjean, Maldonado, Stevens, Mehri (2nd race); all others (3rd race); Maldonado, Button, Alonso and Ericsson had a DNF in Sepang
Pirelli Tyres > Medium Prime, Soft Option (Medium Prime, Soft Option – 2014)
Home Page > http://www.racing-china.com/index.aspx
Shanghai International Circuit > http://www.icsh.sh.cn/about.asp
FOM page > http://www.formula1.com/content/fom-website/en/championship/races/2015/China.html
Programme > http://www.formula1.com/content/fom-website/en/championship/races/2015/China/Timetable.html
Circuit Map > http://www.tourschina.com/f1-shanghai/images/circuit-guide.jpg
FIA page > http://www.fia.com/championship/events/formula-1-world-championship/season-2015/grand-prix-china
Google Satellite > https://goo.gl/maps/fYkLt
2014 highlights (2:03) > https://vimeo.com/93269406
Weather Forecast > http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/1796236 > Sunday – sunny 18deg

Friday 10 April
12:00 – 13:30 – Practice 1
16:00 – 17:30 – Practice 2

Saturday 11 April
14:00 – 15:00 – Practice 3
17:00 – 18:00 – Qualifying (Q1 18min; Q2 15min; Q3 12min)

Sunday 12 April
16:00 – 17:45 – Race (56 laps x 5.451km = 305.066km)
(race starts 14:00 local)
(all times are AEST)
ONE (Sydney times – check local guides)
Monday 13.04 > 21:30 – 22:30 > highlights

FOX Sports 5 / 506 (Sydney times – check local guides)
Friday 10 April > 11:45 – 13:45 > Practice 1 – LIVE
Friday 10 April > 15:45 – 17:55 > Practice 2 – LIVE
Friday 10 April > 20:00 – 21:00 > F1 Show – LIVE
Saturday 11 April > 13:45 – 15:10 > Practice 3 – LIVE
Saturday 11 April > 16:00 – 18:45 > Qualifying – LIVE
Sunday 12 April > 14:30 – 19:30 > Race – LIVE

Abdulla
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