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Prixview – Chinese (1,000th) Grand Prix

Round three of the season heads to China and the commercial capital Shanghai. The commercial capital of the country has been home to Formula One since 2004 when the circuit was built. Designed by Herman Tilke the inspiration for the circuit was the Chinese character Shang (上), the first character in the name of the city Shanghai, meaning “above” or “ascend”.

This has created a high speed and high downforce circuit with multiple straights and tight following corners. One of the most eye conic corners is Turns One to Three, drivers head into a tight long almost circle which can see drama as they all bunch up through the first few corners.

The run down to the hairpin at Five creates good battles as drivers jostle for position into the hairpin before the fast flowing middle sector. The end of the sector is marked by the long snail which opens up onto a long back straight of 1170m, it is the equivalent to 11 football pitches laid end to end, or the same length as three and a half of the world’s biggest aircraft carriers.

The legend which is Michael Schumacher took his 91st and final Grand Prix win here in 2006, his final front row came in 2012. His teammate Nico Rosberg took victory the first for Mercedes since the 1955 French Grand Prix.

This creates drivers which multiple opportunities to follow and attempt to overtake, but getting the car stopped towards the end of the straight can be challenging. The weather in springtime can play a role too, wet races have proved gripping. 2007 saw Lewis Hamilton crash out after getting it wrong going into the pits arguably losing the championship.

Since then he has established himself as the Emperor of China, he has five wins from twelve races and since 2015 has won every other year. Mercedes power has certainly been dominating here eight wins (three with McLaren) has seen them master Shanghai over the years, double that of Ferrari.

Red Bull’s first win came in Shanghai in 2009, a decade on the team hasn’t won that often here despite the four world titles, Honda has never managed to go well in Shanghai and this could represent a good test in terms of power and performance. The thing to watch is the performance on the back straight.

Shanghai marks a massive milestone in the history of the sport, the 1,000th World Championship Grand Prix. Already the two races in the 79th season have provided us with many talking points and answers to the questions we continue to ask about Ferrari and Mercedes.

Some have questioned why this race is in China, why not Silverstone, Paul Ricard, Monza or Monte Carlo. While Silverstone was considered anyone, who remembers April 2000 will know why and Liberty have targeted China as a growth market.

Facts and figures

Round 03 of 21
Race 2019 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix
Venue Shanghai International Circuit, Jiading, Shanghai, China
Circuit Length 5.451 km (3.388 mi)
Laps 56
Race Distance 305.066km (189.559 mi)
Lap Record 1:32.238 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)
Most wins drivers Lewis Hamilton (5
Most wins manufacture Mercedes (5)

Fast facts

  • After their first victory in 2009, the British national anthem was incorrectly played on the podium for Red Bull. Though the team’s base is in Britain, the team itself is registered with the Austrian national racing authority, meaning the Austrian national anthem should have been played.
  • Lewis Hamilton’s unfortunate DNF here in 2007 is the only time the polesitter at the Chinese Grand Prix has failed to finish the race.
  • The layout itself reflects the shape of the Chinese character ‘shang’, which stands for high or above.
  • Shanghai’s population is estimated to be 24 million, meaning each person would receive £1.13 of Lewis Hamilton’s estimated salary.
  • Pole is no guarantee of success in Shanghai. Since 2004, victory has come from pole on only six occasions – a strike rate of 55 percent. Over the last five races, only Hamilton in 2014 and Rosberg in 2012 have managed a win/pole double.

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Friday

P1 10:00-11:30 03:00-04:30
P2 14:00-15:30 07:00-08:30

Saturday

P3 11:00-12:00 04:00-05:00
Qualifying 14:00-15:00 07:00-08:00

Sunday

Race 14:10 07:10

What happened in 2018?

In qualifying in Shanghai, it was becoming clear that Ferrari certainly had a very strong package, Vettel and Raikkonen locked out the front row. This added to the doubts that many were beginning to have about the pace of Mercedes. Though it wasn’t a perfect session for Hamilton, who made a mistake out of the final corner, losing time and leaving him over half a second of Vettel and fourth behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas got ahead of both Ferrari’s at the first round of pit stops where he remained until the race was turned on its head by the Toro Rosso’s. Bottas re-joined in the lead when Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley crashed into each other bringing out the safety car, triggering a round of pit stops.

Ricciardo became a threat to Bottas, the Red Bull driver forced the Mercedes into locking up allowing his teammate Max Verstappen into the lead on the restart. However, with twelve laps to go, Ricciardo was up to the back of the Mercedes, when Red Bull made the decisive move, at turn four.

The Red Bull took the lead going down the inside of Bottas, before opening up nearly a nine-second lead and take the first win of the year. The Australian win made it five years since Mercedes hadn’t won a race in the first three rounds.

Race Result – 1) D. Ricciardo, Red Bull – Tag Heuer 01:35:36.380, 2) V. Bottas, Mercedes +8.894, 3) K. Raikkonen, Ferrari +9.637

What to watch for?

The race-based on Bahrain could be another where Ferrari are strong, but the question is whether it’s Charles Leclerc or Sebastian Vettel. But, you still can’t write Mercedes off either as we are still understanding the form of the teams this season. We know that Shanghai is a circuit where speed and downforce are required so Ferrari should be strong.

Vettel is the man in the top two teams most under pressure after his mistakes in Bahrain and following Leclerc’s dominance. Vettel needs a good weekend and to prove himself against his young teammate and needs a strong performance to stop the many questions which are beginning to circle.

China is a race where the weather can play a part ten years ago Red Bull took there first win in changeable conditions. It can be hot, cold, wet, dry there are so many different variables in this race. It is April, so now we need to start understanding where the cars are and who is where in the pack.

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2018

01:33.999 01:33.482 01:33.018 01:32.171 01:31.914 01:31.095 01:35:36.380 01:35.785

Diff

-17:16.492 N/A -0.318 -0.907 -1.086 -0.311 -02:00.230 +0.362

2017

01:50.491 N/A 01:33.336 01:33.078 01:32.181 01:31.406 01:37:36.158 01:35.423

A lap of Shanghai

Sebastian Vettel comes across the track as he goes to the outside for the multi-apex turn one and two, he keeps the speed going before breaking as he nears the apex. Says at a steady speed before dipping down and around the apex of three, Vettel then opens up the car as he goes through five.

Breaks around eighty metres before going to the outside crosses the track before running through the mid part of seven and then breaks into turn eight. Which he takes perfectly as well as nine, he gets a good exit going to the inside hitting the kerb.

Good entry and exit which is very important from thirteen, around the apex then to the centre where he opens up the car. He then goes for the outside along the 1,170 metre back straight. Breaks a 100m before the hairpin and stays on the outside, turns in then back to the outside.

Curves his way back to the inside then goes and hits the apex of sixteen, going to the inside and crosses the line with a 01:39.009

Tyres

Driver

Team

White

Hard (C2)

Yellow Medium (C3)

Red

Soft (C4)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 1 4

8

V. Bottas 2 3

8

S. Vettel

Ferrari 2 4 7
C. Leclerc 1 5

7

M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 2 3 8
P. Gasly 2 4

7

D. Riccardo

Renault 1 4 8
N. Hulkenberg 2

4

8

K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 2 3 8
R. Grosjean 1 4

8

C. Sainz Jr

McLaren – Renault 2 4 9
L. Norris 2 2

9

S. Perez

Racing Point –Mercedes 2 3 8
L. Stroll 2 3

8

K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 2 3 8

A. Giovinazzi

2 2

8

D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso – Honda 2 3 8
A. Albon 2

3

7

G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes 1 5 7
R. Kubica 2 4

7

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Jack Fielding
Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.
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