Chinese Grand Prix preview

It’s time for the third round of the championship, as Formula One travels to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel took the win last time out in Malaysia to end Mercedes’ run of wins coming at the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. But can the German in the Scuderia Ferrari hold of the Silver Arrows this time around?

This time out, Vettel will be facing a potentially stronger challenge from the Constructors’ champions, with the lower temperatures coming to the aid of Mercedes. The Brackley outfit struggled to get the tyres turned on in Malaysia with the high temperatures bringing the high-flying Silver Arrows back towards the chasing pack. That being the chasing pack of one, Sebastian Vettel.

If the chasing pack is to increase and stay close to the Silver Arrows, they will have to provide their drivers with a car capable of dealing with the 16 corners of Shanghai over 56 laps. As well as their car being stronger than the team most expected to be comfortably in front over the season.

Williams could also challenge Mercedes this weekend as the Mercedes power unit may come to their help and regain the lost ground on Ferrari. Red Bull are unlikely to return to a challenging position this weekend and could see another battle with their sister team’s rookie line up. But the inexperience Toro Rosso drivers are yet to look inexperienced when dealing with some of the best racing drivers in the world.

Force India and McLaren’s poor seasons look to continue heading into China. McLaren may be able to gain some ground on the field and move closer to finishing a grand prix with both cars. But after a double DNF for the team in Malaysia, seeing one car finish may just be enough for them. Although Button believes the Shanghai track and the weather conditions may mask the upgrades installed on the MP4-30.

As for Force India, they are still facing the prospect of another bad weekend after a late start to their 2015 car and do not expect any improvements any time soon. Now deputy team principal Bob Fernley expects any upgrades will not be introduced until the Austrian Grand Prix, at the earliest instead of Monaco, as he told Autosport.

Official Shanghai International Circuit track guide. From Formula1.comChina boasts a 5.451 kilometre circuit in Jiading, Shanghai and made its first appearance on the Formula One calendar in 2004. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the circuit cost £132m ($240m) to construct and has a mixture of technical sectors, before a 1170m straight and a hairpin.

The mixture of sectors will show the benefits of most cars on the grid. With the turn one-two complex allowing downforce heavy cars to carry more speed in and through the first turn. This is the same for the middle sector as the high-speed corners will need a planted car for the driver to feel comfortable on the limit. All the time, the tight, fast or open corners are linked up by straights allowing the faster packages to draw in the benefits.

One of the most important corners to get right is turn 11. The start of the long sequence of corners before the back straight requires drivers to enter cleanly and get back on the power as soon as possible in order to get the best launch down the straight. If you are closing in on the car in front but get turn 11 wrong, you may get away with less time lost if you are able to remain within one second as the car hits the DRS detection point.

Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China. Sunday 20 April 2014. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham CT05 Renault. World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Photographic. ref: Digital Image _L4R1578

Shanghai International Circuit. Credit CaterhamF1 – World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Photographic

Unlike the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Chinese Grand Prix is exclusively live in the UK on SkySportsF1. If you wish to follow the action across the weekend on tv and radio, here are the times you need.

SkySportsF1

Thursday 9th April
08:00 – Driver Press Conference

Friday 10th April
02:45 – Practice 1 – Live
06:45 – Practice 2 – Live
09:00 – Team Press Conference
11:00 – The F1 Show

Saturday 11th April
04:45 – Practice 3 – Live
07:00 – Qualifying – Live

Sunday 12th April
05:30 – Chinese Grand Prix – Track Parade
06:00 – Chinese Grand Prix – Pit lane Live
07:00 – Chinese Grand Prix – Race coverage – Live
09:30 – Chinese Grand Prix – Paddock Live

BBC

Friday 10th April
02:55 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
06:55 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Saturday 11th April
04:55 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
07:55 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13:00 – Qualifying Highlights (BBC1)

Sunday 12th April
06:30 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14:00 – Race Highlights (BBC1)