Shanghai: Let the battle continue…

Shanghai: Let the battle continue…

10 April 2013 – After more than a fortnight away, Formula 1 returns to life at the Shanghai International Circuit this weekend. Part of a back-to-back schedule with Bahrain, the venue has all the required ingredients at the ready to produce another fascinating Grand Prix, with recent form suggesting that at least four teams can fight for victory.

Now that the Malaysian Grand Prix team order controversy has settled down and past drivers have delivered their respective opinions, attentions will be turning to how Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber can put their differences aside to keep Red Bull in the driving seat. Let’s be clear; Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari are all within touching distance and McLaren has embarked upon its comeback, so any in-house fighting needs to be restricted to an absolute minimum by team boss Christian Horner.

If – and that’s a big if – the Red Bull duo can prolong their working relationship until what many expect will be a parting of ways in 17 races’ time, there is no reason to suggest an upcoming dip in form. And aside from last season, the outfit has enjoyed plenty of success at the Shanghai track under Adrian Newey’s technical leadership, with its maiden victory being achieved on Chinese soil four years ago.

However, despite Red Bull’s history at Shanghai and its performance – ignoring the inter-team drama – in Malaysia, Mercedes has shown that winning-pace is not too far away. With the outfit’s 2012 tyre woes seemingly a thing of the past, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg kept Vettel and Webber in sight until a phase of extreme fuel-saving took the wind out of their sails. If these issues are ironed out and a small amount of performance is added, the Silver Arrows could be a serious threat. You only have to look back 12 months to see what the team can do when it strings together a weekend.

Alonso missed a golden opportunity at Sepang

Lotus and Ferrari should also have been in the fight for victory at Sepang, but a variety of reasons paved the way for Red Bull and Mercedes to storm clear. Lotus struggled all weekend amid the changeable conditions, describing it as a blip in form, while an uncharacteristic but somewhat understandable decision from Ferrari and Fernando Alonso to stay out on-track with a damaged front wing wiped away another podium chance. Felipe Massa picked up the pieces in fifth, far from the Scuderia’s pre-race target.

The heartache was more severe at McLaren, however, with the squad missing out on its first major points haul of the season due to a pit-stop error. In Jenson Button’s words, his season reboots in China, with a series of planned and responsive car upgrades being shipped to the Far East after the team reflected and understood its fundamental issues at the MTC. We can be sure that McLaren will be back, but it depends whether this is going to be in time to fight for either of the two world titles.

Another team eager for a prompt return to form is Force India. Although the pace of the VJM06 has never been in doubt, with the team stamping its authority over Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams in Australia, both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta suffered retirements last time out as a result of a wheel nut issue. With this problem rectified and McLaren still on the tall ladder to recovery, a second double points finish of the year is not out of the question come Sunday.

The back of the grid is also providing plenty of entertainment, with star rookie Jules Bianchi demonstrating his true potential after a tumultuous journey through motorsport's ranks. The Marussia driver has comfortably outpaced his closest rivals and heads to China hoping to unlock even more pace. If this continues, his services will surely be acquired by one of the sport’s more established teams in 2014.

But whoever we are discussing this weekend, tyres will be at the forefront of their minds. Red Bull has persistently complained after suffering severe degradation in Australia and Malaysia, while Pirelli simply states that the rubber is living up to what has been requested. The Medium and Soft compounds will get their first test as a combination at Shanghai, with plenty more pit-stops and permutations predicted.

Let’s wait for those five red lights…

Mike Seymour
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Saturday 19 April 2014

  2. Video of the Day: Honda duo at petrol station 02:00

    Video of the Day: Honda duo at petrol station

    Find out what happened when Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa worked at a Repsol service station.

    MotoGP
  3. Friday 18 April 2014

  4. Mattiacci thought Ferrari job offer was a joke 13:32

    Mattiacci thought Ferrari job offer was a joke

    Newly appointed Ferrari Team Principal Marco Mattiacci says he thought President Luca di Montezemolo was joking when he gave...

    F1
  5. Honda: No plans to supply second team in 2015 11:56

    Honda: No plans to supply second team in 2015

    Honda's Yasuhisa Arai says that the Japanese manufacturer has no plans to supply power units to a second team when they...

    F1
  6. Maldonado accepts blame for pit entry accident 11:45

    Maldonado accepts blame for pit entry accident

    Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado has accepted the blame for a mistake during the second practice session in China which...

    F1
  7. Alonso encouraged by Ferrari updates 11:40

    Alonso encouraged by Ferrari updates

    Fernando Alonso says that he is encouraged by the upgrades which Ferrari has applied to the F14 T ahead of this weekend's...

    F1
  8. Minor problems hampering Marussia progress 11:27

    Minor problems hampering Marussia progress

    Marussia drivers Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton admitted it was difficult to get into a rhythm during practice for the...

    F1
  9. Magnussen baffled by McLaren's uncompetitiveness 11:08

    Magnussen baffled by McLaren's uncompetitiveness

    McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen says he is perplexed by his team's lack of competitiveness in China compared to the opening...

    F1
  10. Pérez targets improvements to balance 11:02

    Pérez targets improvements to balance

    Force India racer Sergio Pérez says he needs to improve the balance of the VJM07 ahead of qualifying for the Chinese Grand...

    F1
  11. Sutil downbeat after difficult practice session 10:56

    Sutil downbeat after difficult practice session

    Adrian Sutil says that Sauber faces a lot of work in order to improve the C33 and provide the team a with a chance of...

    F1
  12. Williams package 'better than in Bahrain' 10:48

    Williams package 'better than in Bahrain'

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas says that the team has a better package in China than they did at the last round two weeks...

    F1
  13. Vettel still searching for engine improvement 10:30

    Vettel still searching for engine improvement

    Sebastian Vettel says he and Red Bull are still searching for improvements with Renault's new turbocharged power...

    F1
  14. Rosberg anticipating battle with Hamilton 10:27

    Rosberg anticipating battle with Hamilton

    Nico Rosberg expects the greatest challenge to his chance of victory at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix to come from...

    F1
  15. 10:15

    Latest F1 photos: Friday at Shanghai

    F1
  16. Hamilton: No discussion with Rosberg 10:03

    Hamilton: No discussion with Rosberg

    Lewis Hamilton has denied taking part in 'clear the air' talks with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. Rosberg said in the...

    F1
  17. Hamilton learns little from opening day 09:42

    Hamilton learns little from opening day

    Lewis Hamilton says he learned little from the opening day of practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, despite setting the...

    F1
  18. Video: Maldonado crashes at Shanghai 09:16

    Video: Maldonado crashes at Shanghai

    Relive Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado's crash during second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

    F1
  19. 08:33

    Chinese GP: Full Free Practice 2 results

    F1
  20. Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2 08:32

    Hamilton puts Mercedes on top in FP2

    Lewis Hamilton returned Mercedes to the top of the timesheets during second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday...

    F1
  21. 06:56

    Follow second practice for the Chinese GP!

    F1
  22. Video: A to Z of Formula 1 – Part 5 (R to U) 06:52

    Video: A to Z of Formula 1 – Part 5 (R to U)

    Red Bull presents 'The A to Z of Formula 1' and in Part 5 looks at R to U.

    F1
  23. 04:33

    Chinese GP: Full Free Practice 1 results

    F1
  24. Alonso fastest in first Shanghai practice 04:32

    Alonso fastest in first Shanghai practice

    Fernando Alonso set the standard during Friday morning's opening free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix. The...

    F1
  25. McLaren running special livery in China 03:31

    McLaren running special livery in China

    McLaren will race with a modified, one-off car livery at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. As it did to celebrate its...

    F1
  26. 03:00

    Follow first practice for the Chinese GP!

    F1
  27. Video of the Day: Hamilton's China guide 01:30

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's China guide

    Join Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton for a lap of the Shanghai International Circuit.

    F1
  28. Thursday 17 April 2014

  29. Video: Rosberg previews the Chinese GP 16:00

    Video: Rosberg previews the Chinese GP

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg looks ahead to the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.

    F1
  30. Hamilton tipped to triumph in China 15:07

    Hamilton tipped to triumph in China

    GPUpdate.net readers have backed Lewis Hamilton to claim victory at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. The former World...

    F1
  31. Vettel targets top five finish at Shanghai 14:31

    Vettel targets top five finish at Shanghai

    Sebastian Vettel says he would see a top five finish at the Chinese Grand Prix as a good result. The German, who won the...

    F1
  32. Video: DJ mixes Formula 1 car noises 14:08

    Video: DJ mixes Formula 1 car noises

    This May, Mobil 1 engine oil turns Jenson Button's McLaren MP4-29 into a musical instrument like no other.

    F1
  33. Rosberg set to 'clear the air' with Hamilton 13:43

    Rosberg set to 'clear the air' with Hamilton

    Nico Rosberg has revealed that he plans to clear the air with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton ahead of this weekend's...

    F1
  34. Button expects Mercedes to stay dominant 12:57

    Button expects Mercedes to stay dominant

    Jenson Button expects Mercedes to continue its dominance of the 2014 season for the foreseeable future, admitting that it...

    F1
  35. Video: A to Z of Formula 1 – Part 4 (M to Q) 12:00

    Video: A to Z of Formula 1 – Part 4 (M to Q)

    Red Bull presents 'The A to Z of Formula 1' and in Part 4 looks at M to Q.

    F1
  36. Räikkönen surprised by Domenicali exit 11:53

    Räikkönen surprised by Domenicali exit

    Kimi Räikkönen says Stefano Domenicali's resignation as Ferrari team boss came as a surprise to him. Domenicali, who had b...

    F1
  37. Ricciardo over appeal: I had moved on 11:09

    Ricciardo over appeal: I had moved on

    Despite admitting to disappointment after Red Bull's failed appeal over his exclusion from the season-opening Australian...

    F1
  38. Alonso: New boss Mattiacci needs time 10:09

    Alonso: New boss Mattiacci needs time

    Fernando Alonso is hoping that Marco Mattiacci will be given sufficient time to adapt to his new role as Team Principal of...

    F1
  39. Marko expecting Red Bull improvement 09:54

    Marko expecting Red Bull improvement

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko is expecting the team to edge towards the front of the field in coming races. Despite...

    F1
  40. Plans for championship with ex-F1 drivers 09:38

    Plans for championship with ex-F1 drivers

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is planning to set up a championship for former Grand Prix drivers. Earlier this...

    F1
  41. Chilton eyes similarly strong race in Shanghai 07:00

    Chilton eyes similarly strong race in Shanghai

    Max Chilton has said he will be aiming for a 'similarly strong race' in China this weekend after leaving the Bahrain GP on a...

    F1
  42. 06:20

    Latest F1 photos: Preparations at Shanghai

    F1
  43. Rosberg: It's going to get more difficult 06:00

    Rosberg: It's going to get more difficult

    Nico Rosberg is expecting Mercedes' rivals to close the gap more and more as the season progresses, although he is still...

    F1