It’s only two weeks away before the third race in this season. 2012 Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix will be held from 13 to 15 April 2012 (local time) at Shanghai International Circuit which is built on a swampland in the Jiading District of Shanghai. Medium and soft compound tyres have been chosen for the race.
The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, a German engineer and auto racer, and the circuit includes his trademark feature: a long back straight followed by a hairpin turn. The long back straight is also the DRS activation zone of the circuit and offers drivers opportunities to overtake their opponents. When looked from above, the track layout is similar to the Chinese character “上” which is derived from the first character in the name of Shanghai (上海).
One lap of the circuit is 5.451 km with sweeping curves, long straights, heavy braking areas and hairpin turns with rising and falling gradients. The circuit features a total of 16 corners with 9 right-handers and 7 left-handers. More than 70% of the circuit will be run under full throttle. Tyre degradation is high due to the track layout. The long right-handers at Turn 1 and Turn 12, 13 will put an enormous strain on the front left tyre. The steering systems will also experience one of the highest load from the entire Formula 1 season at these corners. Understeering is very easy to occur if the cars enter these corners too fast. At the end of the main straight is one of the tightest hairpin on the calendar, Turn 14, the cars have to decelerate from 320 kph to 60 kph in less than 130 metres which is a deceleration of 6g, one of the heaviest the tyres have to face in a season.
The fastest lap record 1:32.238 is set by Michael Schumacher in Ferrari in 2004. There has been a different winner every year since 2004 except that Lewis Hamilton is the only two-time winner in China. Last year, Hamilton had finished 1st, beating pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button in the race. In 2012 Australian and Malaysian Formula 1, Hamilton had been showing his potential by getting pole position and finishing in the podium. How well will he perform in the third race in this season in Shanghai?
McLaren’s preview of the race :
Button : I’ve usually gone well in Shanghai, it’s a circuit I really enjoy and I’m looking forward to the race weekend. The facilities are amazing, but it’s a very good, modern circuit – the first two sectors are pretty technical, there are some interesting combinations of corners and you need a good, responsive car to go well. We’ll be setting the car up to offer good downforce through some of the faster corners, but without sacrificing too much speed along the straights.
Hamilton : I’ll be heading to China looking to win. I’ve won there twice – both were victories I’m really proud of. Last year, I had a great race, kept pushing every lap and managed to take the lead right at the end. It’s going to be an interesting weekend.
McLaren at the Chinese Grand Prix :
Wins 3 (2008, 2010, 2011)
Poles 2 (2007, 2008)
Fastest laps 3 (2005, 2008, 2010)
Mercedes’s preview of the race :
Schumacher : When I think about the Chinese Grand Prix, the fans are the first thing that comes to mind. For many years now, I’ve had a big and loyal fan base there, and it’s still very touching to see the lengths they go to in supporting me. A big thank you to all of them! As for the race itself, I’ve never had much luck in Shanghai, apart from my win in 2006; however that could change this year.
Rosberg : I have good memories of the Chinese Grand Prix as I was on the podium there in 2010 and led the race last year. I like the Shanghai International Circuit very much with its many unique, long corners. The track is quite different to the first two, as it demands more from the front tyres than the rears – in other words, what is termed a front-limited circuit. We know that we have a quick car, but we are looking to improve our long run pace in China next weekend and to have a better race performance.
Sauber’s preview of the race :
Kobayashi : I always have a good feeling for this Grand Prix. I really like the circuit near Shanghai because I enjoy its high speed corners very much, and as well as that they should suit our car. The track temperatures might be lower than recently in Malaysia, as I expect them to be more like they were in Melbourne, and this also should be better for us and the tyres. I will go there with a positive approach and after the small break it will be interesting to see who brings what updates for the cars.
Pérez : I am very much looking forward to the Chinese Grand Prix. Our car can be competitive and we have to make the most of it. The high speed corners of the track should suit our car. I especially like turn one – it is a long and pretty difficult bend. The long straight will not be the easiest part for us, but, again, we have to maximise our potential.
Lotus’s preview of the race :
Raikkonen : It’s just another race track – I don’t have particular favourites or anything like that. It’s quite similar to Albert Park and Sepang in what it requires from the car so that should be good for us. We have some new parts for the E20 so that should also be good. I won there in 2007 and that was a good feeling as that was the year I won the World Championship. It’s a proper race track and there are good opportunities for overtaking. Our car looks good so let’s see what happens when we get out on track.
Grosjean : The first two races were tough and we didn’t get a result. On the other hand I know that we can do some great things in the future races. My season starts properly in China. It will be my first time driving the circuit. I’ve been watching some onboard videos and it looks pretty nice. I hope it will suit the E20.
Pirelli’s preview of the race :
Paul Hembery : China proved to be one of the most fascinating races in our first year, with tyre strategy at the heart of it. The philosophy we have adopted this year actually extends the window of peak performance on the slick tyres, which means that the drivers should be able to race harder and closer. Although ambient temperatures can be quite low in China, tyre degradation is traditionally high due to the unique track layout. So our P Zeros will face a quite different challenge next week in Shanghai.
Timetable for 2012 Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix: