Formula 1 | China Grand Prix Preview
By James Malleson
- Lewis Hamilton looking to win for the fifth time in China
- Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel to commence battle again
SHANGHAI, CHINA -The second race of the season comes round, as Lewis Hamilton is looking to bounce back after his opening loss.
Hamilton’s Previous Record
The Chinese Grand Prix has been a largely successful cruise for Lewis Hamilton where he has climbed the top step of the podium a total of four times.
He has finished the race in the top three, seven times in total, but it has not all been plain sailing. Back in 2007 when Hamilton was just starting his F1 career he unfortunately had to retire, after successfully claiming pole position in a lap time of 1:35.908. The man from Stevenage had a good start and remained first, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.
However, with a drying track, Hamilton’s tyres were showing signs of wear and the pit stop decision did not come to fruition, on lap 31 the Brit ran wide of the curb and was subsequently passed by Raikkonen. With the continuation of his growing concern of tyre wear, Hamilton pitted shortly after but could not navigate his way through the pits successfully and caused irreplaceable damage to the car. He did not return to the race and it resulted in the first retirement of his career.
On a more positive note, he followed up with great success in 2008 with his maiden Chinese GP win. The three-time world champion won convincingly after starting in pole position. This win was followed up by successive wins in 2014 and 2015.
So will Hamilton’s ship cruise past the finish line or will it hit trouble and sink? If his past record is anything to go by then this suggests the former.
How does Vettel’s Record Compare?
Sebastian Vettel has not fared so well in comparison to Hamilton, with the German only claiming one solitary win which came in 2009 whilst he was racing for Red Bull.
The win was sealed after starting in pole position, however, it came with difficulty as Vettel suffered a small collision with Sebastien Buemi. Shortly after, Felipe Massa suffered an electrical fault causing the safety car to proceed to the track – Vettel had time to catch up and by lap 45 the four-time champion was leading the pack and that is where he remained, crossing the finish line in 1:57:43.485.
His other races have not been as successful although he has featured on the podium four times in total and last year proved one of his more positive results, finishing in second place on the Shanghai International Circuit.
The outcome remains to be seen, but if Vettel can perform as he did in Australia then we could be in for another ferocious battle.
Wetter Weather Conditions Could Cause Havoc
China is steeped in history – from the Chinese New Year to the Great Wall of China. It is also known for the Chinese dragon, but what other hazards should the drivers look out for on the 5.4km of the track?
Looking back in the past, rain has made a regular appearance in the city of Shanghai and looking ahead to the forecast this Sunday, we can expect further damp conditions.
This is coupled with colder conditions than those in Melbourne, so taking in all of these factors, expect softer tyres to be used instead of harder ones. These tyres will wear, in these conditions at a slower rate and allow for more grip.
If it does rain, then overtaking could prove difficult, especially at corner 14, which is sharp and could cause drivers to over steer and loose grip on the track forcing them off it, if they are not careful. Additionally, if rain does occur, then the drops could threaten visibility levels, meaning sight could be impaired, leading to poor decisions.
With so much on the line, who will write their names in the Chinese history books?
Sharp Corners Could Prove Costly
‘Above’ – the direct translation of Chinese character Shang, which is used in the architectural shaping of this track and with the sharp corners of the track, it provides it’s own story in the making.
This track contains 16 corners in total and is steeped in tricky bends especially nearer to the beginning of the track. As the lights turn off at the start expect chaos, as drivers try to stay ahead of their rivals by carefully navigating through corners one, two, three and four.
Corner five is slightly more manageable and there is to be less chance of drama here until corner six is reached where another sharp corner will test the nerve of the drivers. The rest of the corners are fairly smooth before 11 and 12 could prove more difficult.
While Shang is not the only architectural influence of this track, (with the team buildings arranged in the form of the Yuyuan-Garden), the drivers will certainly need to rise ‘above’ the threats if they are to be successful here.
Overtaking Very Possible
Shanghai is one big shopping mall for the rich and famous, home to 13.4 million people and the financial capital for one of the highest populated countries in the world, but the drivers may need to invest wisely if they are to earn big here.
With its sharp corners but long straights there are plenty of opportunities to overtake on this track, however overtaking would be easier towards the end of each lap. This is because two DRS zones are placed there.
The first drag reduction zone appears at the end of the longest straight after the thirteenth corner and because it’s straight it allows for speed to be built up ready to try and overtake.
The next DRS zone arrives almost immediately after the first where it is positioned just after the 14th, 15th, and 16th corners. The second zone is another long and straight piece of track which again is perfect for manoeuvring past the car in front.
All that remains to be seen is whether Hamilton can rise to the challenge after disappointment in Australia.
- Sebastian Vettel
- Lewis Hamilton
- Kimi Raikkonen
By The Numbers
The China Grand Prix race starts at 07:00 GMT
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