F1 2016: Chinese Grand Prix Preview

Nico Rosberg is currently Formula One’s form man. On a five race winning streak, carrying over from the end of 2015, he will be looking to add another win to his tally at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The recurring theme at the first two races of the season has been Mercedes not getting away as well as their rivals when the lights go out. Both Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton lost out to the Ferrari duo in Australia while Hamilton picked up damage to his car after a poor start last time out.

Ferrari has demonstrated that it is a team with the capability of beating Mercedes this year, however reliability issues are hampering their chances. Kimi Raikkonen retired in Australia while Sebastian Vettel’s car expired on the warm up lap in Bahrain. There have been podiums for both drivers, however, in the opening two races – third for Vettel in Australia and second for Raikkonen last time out.

Now all eyes turn to China for the third race of the year. Big news ahead of the weekend is the fact that qualifying will return to the 2015 format.

Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.451km
Number of Corners: 16
Lap Record: 1:32.239 Michael Schumacher (2004)
Previous China winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (4 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

A feature on the Formula One calendar since 2004, the Shanghai International Circuit features a mix of two long straights punctuated by a mixture of slow, medium and high speed corners.

Tyres can play a big issue in the races with wear particularly high. With Pirelli’s new rule of bringing three compounds to each race it is inevitable that there will be a range of strategies throughout the race. This has already been showcased in the first two races and it is a rule praised by many.

The most successful driver at the circuit is Lewis Hamilton who has won the race four time, including in 2014 and 2015. The reigning world champion has been overshadowed by his team-mate in the races so far but has dominated in the qualifying. He will be looking for his first victory of the year and at a circuit he has obviously enjoyed considerable success but also disappointment.

Ferrari have also won the race four times including in 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen won the race in his championship year. They will be hoping to get both cars across the line this year after disappointment in the first two races of the season. Red Bull currently lie third in the championship and they enjoyed a solid finish in Bahrain, led by Daniel Ricciardo in fourth.

Another talking point of the first two races has been the success of Haas. Romain Grosjean has finished in sixth and fifth so far and his consistency so far sees the new team lie fifth in the championship.

Fernando Alonso is still a question mark for the race after being forced to sit out Bahrain. Stoffel Vandoorne picked up points on his debut and Jenson Button felt he was on for solid points before retiring early in the race. Renault, Sauber and Manor are looking for their first points of the year while Williams will be hoping to stay out of trouble. Valtteri Bottas picked up a penalty in Bahrain for his role in Hamilton’s turn one contact. Force India have had a quiet start to the year while Toro Rosso have seen mixed fortunes.

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