Chinese Grand Prix Preview

After Rosberg made it two wins from two in Bahrain, Formula One travels to China for round three of the 2016 World Championship.

The Chinese Grand Prix has been on the F1 calendar since 2004, and over the 12 races held in Shanghai just two of the eight winners have stood on the top step more than once. Should Nico Rosberg complete an early season hat-trick this weekend, he will join Hamilton and Alonso in doing so and continue with his record win streak.

When Formula One came to China last year, it was Lewis Hamilton who left the track with the win in the bag as he topped every session of the weekend bar Q1. While in the other side of the Mercedes garage, Rosberg was left fuming as he felt Lewis had been backing him into the Ferrari of Vettel during the race.

Once again, the Ferrari should be close to the Silver Arrows when they hit the track in China this time around as the Scuderia continue to edge closer to the champions. Vettel though is coming off the back of his first did not start following an engine failure in Bahrain. The blow-out came as a result of electronic management forcing an exhaust valve to work outside its standard operating parameters. With Seb loosing early ground in the drivers’ championship, he will certainly be looking to make up the lost points.

Vettel during the 2015 Chinese Grand prix - credit Adon Buckley

In the battle to be best of the rest in China, the competition could heat up once more with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Haas all showing to be strong in the early parts of the season. And following on from points in both Australia and Bahrain, Haas are now targeting points in every race with Grosjean showing their car to be quick and competitive.

Meanwhile McLaren appear to be more competitive than they were last year, but they are still far from the front. Last time out in the desert of Bahrain, McLaren’s reserve driver – Stoffel Vandoorne – did a very impressive job to score the team’s first point of the year in his Formula One debut as he replaced the injured Fernando Alonso. The Belgian may also drive in China should the two-time Chinese GP winner not pass his FIA medical check on Thursday.

After early contact, damage and what proved to be the wrong strategy call in Bahrain hampering their race, Force India and Williams will be looking for a better result on Sunday. The Williams car however does not appear to be as strong as the Toro Rosso or Haas at this stage, while the Force India is yet to look competitive.

Max Verstappen - 2016 Bahrain GP - Credit Mubarak Fahad

After the disaster if proved to be in Australia, and again in Bahrain when the FIA and FOM refused to eliminate it, elimination qualifying in Formula One is no more. For now at least.

For the teams unanimously agreed to vote it out and pleaded for a return to the 2015 format. With the FIA president, Jean Todt, and F1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone, finally agreeing to drop the new elimination format and return to how qualifying was before.

In their plea for a return, the teams suggested making effort over the remainder of this season to consider tweaking the race weekend format. Leaving the door open to another qualifying format change next year or potential Saturday sprint races.

Official Shanghai International Circuit track guide. From Formula1.com

The mixture of sectors on offer in Shanghai can have the potential to show the benefits of each of the cars on the grid. For the tight and twisty corners which create the opening sequence and sector two will reward the downforce heavy cars, allowing them to push more in these areas.

While the end of the track sees most of the overtaking done as the long straight and DRS will sling the faster car into the hairpin and potentially a position or two up the order.

Although turn 14 is one of the better overtaking opportunities, one of the more important corners to get right is turn 11. The start of the long right hand corner onto 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 also closing in on the car in front, staying close but behind through turn 11 can be advantageous with the DRS detection point coming soon after.

Pirelli tyre selections for the Chinese GP

Once again the strategies for tyres has been varied amongst the teams, with Hamilton taking one more set of mediums than his soft-opting team-mate. While Ferrari keep their men on the same sets, Williams and Massa will be relying on just the one set of mediums for the weekend.

Their aggressive selection leaves the Brazilian with seven sets of the supersofts as they make their first appearance in China. In previous races of the Pirelli-era, the Italian firm brought along just the softs and mediums with this years regulation change allowing them to bring the third compound.

But with the track surface used in China, the red-marked tyres will mainly be used for qualifying and the top-eight at the start of the race. Potentially causing pit stops as early as lap five. Although that was also the expectation in Bahrain, where the supersofts became a greater race tyre than the mediums.

Chinese GP Grandstand - Credit Alva Chien

For the third round of the 2016 season, Sky Sports picks up the race exclusively on TV, while Channel 4 continue their debut season with extended highlights of qualifying and the race.

Wednesday April 13
20:30 – F1 Report – Chinese GP preview (Sky Sports F1)

Thursday April 14
08:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live (Sky Sports F1)
20:45 – Paddock Uncut (Sky Sports F1)

Friday April 15
02:45 – Chinese GP Practice One – Live (Sky Sports F1)
02:55 – Chinese GP Practice One – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
06:45 – Chinese GP Practice Two – Live (Sky Sports F1)
06:55 – Chinese GP Practice Two – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
09:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference – Live (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 – The F1 Show – Live (Sky Sports F1)
10:00 – Chinese GP Practice One – replay (Sky Sports F1)
11:45 – Chinese GP Practice Two – replay (Sky Sports F1)
13:30 – The F1 Show – replay (Sky Sports F1)

Saturday April 16
04:45 – Chinese GP Practice Three – Live (Sky Sports F1)
04:55 –  Chinese GP Practice Three – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
06:55 – Chinese GP Qualifying – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
07:00 – Chinese GP Qualifying – Live (Sky Sports F1)
11:30 – Chinese GP Qualifying – Replay (Sky Sports F1)
12:30 – Chinese GP Qualifying – Highlights (Channel 4)
12:40 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook (Sky Sports F1)

Sunday April 17
05:30 – The 2016 Chinese GP – Track Parade – Live (Sky Sports F1)
06:00 – The 2016 Chinese GP – Pitlane – Live (Sky Sports F1)
06:30 – The 2016 Chinese GP Race – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live)
07:00 – The 2016 Chinese GP – Race – Live (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 – The 2016 Chinese GP – Paddock – Live (Sky Sports F1)
13:30 – The 2016 Chinese GP – Race – Highlights (Channel 4)
14:15 – The 2016 Chinese GP – Race – Replay (Sky Sports F1)