How the F1 teams will approach the Chinese Grand Prix
Insight
Darren Heath
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Apr 2012   |  11:42 am GMT  |  88 comments

Next weekend is the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai. Strategy decisions for this race are always on a knife edge; there are several ways to do the race, especially with the cars being close together on performance this year and with the two Pirelli tyre compounds also being close on performance.

And after what happened in Malaysia, teams will be working hard in Friday practice to understand how the tyres are likely to perform on long runs and in qualifying. This year getting the right car set up to deal with both is proving very tricky, largely thanks to the banning of the blown diffuser. Teams have lost more downforce and rear end stability as a result of that, than they imagined.

The first sector of the Shanghai lap features a series of slow corners, Turn one being a long, 270 degree tightening corner. Sector two features Shanghai’s only medium and high speed corners, Turns 7 & 8 as well as a pair of slow left handers. Then Sector three is a long sector with three tight corners and one of the longest straights on the F1 calendar.

In comparison to the first two venues of the season, the lower temperatures will be comparable to Melbourne, while the track is between Melbourne and Sepang in terms of the tyre wear and degradation.

Once you’ve read all about the considerations the teams will go through when deciding their plans for the race, you can try to find the fastest way to do the race using our Race Strategy Calculator. Click here to use it. Strategy Calculator

Track characteristics:

Shanghai International Circuit; 5.45 kilometres. Race distance: 56 laps = 305 kilometres, 16 corners in total, a mixture of slow, medium and fast

Aerodynamic setup – Medium/high downforce. Top speed 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 310km/h without.

Full throttle – 55% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 148 kilos.

Time spent braking: 14% of the lap. 8 braking zones. Brake wear: Medium.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 17.5 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 21 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.34 seconds (average). Fuel consumption: 2.55 kg/lap

Form Guide

The UBS Chinese Grand Prix is the third round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship.

The first two races of the season saw McLaren dominate in Australia, with Malaysia hard to draw many conclusions from due to changeable weather conditions, although Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won the race from Sauber’s Sergio Perez.

The McLaren continues to be the fastest car in the field, with the Red Bull faster in race conditions than in qualifying and the Mercedes being the opposite. The W Duct drag reduction system on the Mercedes is likely to work to optimum effect on Shanghai’s long straight and Mercedes must be considered a contender for pole position. But the high tyre wear will knock them back a little in the race.


As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton is the only driver to have won the race twice, there are five other previous winners in the field; Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel.

Weather Forecast

It can often been overcast and cold in Shanghai and rain is quite common. The 2010 event was held in wet conditions, as was the 2009 edition. The race starts at 1500hrs local time. The ambient temperatures are forecast to be around 18-20 degrees, quite low by F1 standards.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Shanghai: Soft and Medium.

Last year’s Chinese Grand Prix was one of the most exciting from a strategy point of view and all the signs are that this year will be the same. The difference in performance between the soft and medium tyre is projected to be just 0.3secs/lap, much less than last year.

Last year in China we saw different strategies being used by the podium finishers. Lewis Hamilton won the race by stopping three times and crucial to this was saving a new set of soft tyres by not doing a second run in Qualifying 3. Sebastian Vettel paid the price of stopping just twice, while Mark Webber came through from 18th to 3rd with a counter strategy of running three stops using the harder tyre first.

There are more high energy corners in Shanghai than in Melbourne, but not as many as in Sepang and the temperatures will be much lower so this should mean that the tyre degradation is more normal. There is a huge stop into turn 1, with a 6g deceleration; one of the toughest of the year on the tyres.

However with the performance of the cars so close together, getting the right compromise on set up between qualifying and the race will be vital. With the banning of Exhaust Blown Diffusers, the teams have lost more downforce at the rear of the car than they expected and this is leading to problems trading off qualifying pace and race pace. The tyres seem to have a sweet spot and at the moment it is teams like Sauber and Williams who seem to be finding it more than the big teams. This will change with more running. Teams will be using Friday’s practice sessions in China to understand the best way to work the tyres for single lap pace and race pace.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

Last season three stops was the way to go and the pre-race expectations are the same for this year. The winning strategy last year was to stop on lap 15 for soft tyres; Lap 25 for soft tyres and Lap 38 for harder tyres. However with the gaps between the tyres being much less this year, teams will use Friday practice to assess tyre performance and the exact difference between strategies.

Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Shanghai is reasonably high, at 43% and there is an average of 0.7 safety cars per race. In the 2005 and 2010 races there were 2 safety car periods

Recent start performance of drivers

As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season as follows:
Gained:
+11 Kobayashi 

+10 Kovalainen
+8 Massa, Perez

+7 Alonso, Glock

+6 Raikkonen,
+5 Maldonado
+4 Pic

+3 Rosberg, Hulkenberg

+2 Vettel, Di Resta
+1 Button, Schumacher*, Petrov, Karthikeyan
Lost:
-1 Hamilton, Vergne, De la Rosa
-2 Ricciardo

-3 Grosjean**, Webber
* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap

Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the most recent dry race, Australia, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. The 2011 league table positions are in brackets.
1. Ferrari 21.910s (5)

2. McLaren 22.837s (3)

3. Red Bull 22.915s (1=)

4. Mercedes 23.017 (1=)

5. Williams 23.166 (7)

6. Toro Rosso 23.257 (8=)

7. Lotus 23.310 (6)

8. Sauber 23.832 (8=)

9. Caterham 24.397 (8=)

10. Force India 24.579 (4)

11. Marussia 25.046 (11)

* HRT did not qualify for the Australian Grand Prix

The Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from the strategists of several F1 teams and from Pirelli. Now try to find the fastest way to do the race using our Race Strategy Calculator. Click here to use it. Strategy Calculator

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88 Comments
  1. Simon Donald says:

    ‘The W Duct drag reduction system on the Mercedes’

    I’ve not seen it called this yet, where did it get the ‘W’ name, is it because of two openings in the rear wing and one outlet in the front wing hence the 3 peaks in the letter W?

    1. G says:

      W = Wing?

      Seems pretty obvious…..

    2. [MISTER] says:

      Maybe from “wing duct” ??

    3. Guy says:

      The ‘f’ in ‘f duct’ was a code the mclaren team used: the opening in the cockpit was positioned over the f in vodafone. It had nothing to to with the shape of the opening, contrary to reports.

      Perhaps the W was named after something similar?

      1. Jesper says:

        McLaren refered to the f-duct as the J Switch.
        F duct was simply the popular name adopted for it due to its positioning, as you mentioned.

    4. J Damper says:

      Maybe W because the merc cars’ designation starts with W?

    5. Wayne says:

      These are great articles, james, but I for one would liek to know more about what you think and feel about these races, being as close as you are to F1. It’s all a bit clinical…

  2. Charalampos says:

    Sauber seems to have problems with the tyres as well in qualifying. Maybe it was just luck that most of the other teams had problems in the race and not in qualifying while they had the opposite trend. Maybe it was this luck that differentiated them from the other teams and enabled them to fight for the win in Malaysia

  3. Jeff says:

    James, with 3 weeks breaks once the last race, are you expecting to see or hearing of many significant upgrades to any of the cars? Surely Ferrari and Mercedes haven’t been just sitting around eating Easter eggs…

  4. goferet says:

    It’s weird, the Chinese Grand Prix is this week but the race that’s on everybody’s minds is still Bahrain.

    Anyway, roll on the Chinese Grand Prix for the land of tea has tended to give us classics (though most have been thanks to the rain).

    Regarding last year’s classic, from what I read, apparently Mclaren only went for the 3 stop strategy because Jenson disobeyed an order to pit a lap earlier wrecking his and Lewis’ tyres which forced Mclaren to go for the plan B strategy.

    So Mclaren’s strategy last year was more out of desperation rather than brilliance but hey it worked, No?

    Now, can’t wait to see what surprises these volatile 2012 Pirellis are going to throw us come race day, hopefully we get another shocker to include in the script of this season’s soap opera.

    Meanwhile, Autosport have crunched some numbers and it appears Red Bull still have the fastest car in terms of average lap times ahead of Mclaren and Williams.

    Okay some more China stats:

    1) Ferrari have won it thrice so have Mclaren, Renault once and Red Bull once

    2) Vettel has the most poles with 3, Hammy 2 and Alonso 2

    3) 4 out of 8 have won China from pole
    but of all those that have been able to convert pole position to wins, it was during a dry Chinese Grand Prix with Vettel being the exception in 2009.

    4) Schumi had his last win at the Classic 2006 Chinese Grand Prix

    *Disturbing fact*

    Ever since the Chinese Grand Prix was moved to the beginning of the calendar (i.e. in 2009), the driver that has won at this track hasn’t gone on to win the title

    As for the other Chinese Grand Prix (that occurred towards the end of the season), only the Grandpas Rubens and Schumi failed to go on and clinch the title.

    *Fun fact*

    After Alonso’s Malaysia win, he’s now the fifth most successful driver in the history of the sport (in terms of race wins) though, of the top 5, Alonso is the only driver never to have had the pleasure to hop into a dominant car.

    1. Skan says:

      “After Alonso’s Malaysia win, he’s now the fifth most successful driver in the history of the sport (in terms of race wins) though, of the top 5, Alonso is the only driver never to have had the pleasure to hop into a dominant car.” – The Renault was the dominant car for 2005 and most of 2006.

      1. James Clayton says:

        And the 2007 McLaren was pretty sweet too

      2. r0ssj says:

        Alonso’s Renault and McLaren were good cars. But the Ferrari or McLaren during those years was as fast, if not faster over the course of the season.

        Alonso has never had a car with the type of dominance the Ferrari had during the Schumacher era, the 92, 93 Williams or the 88, 89 McLaren, unlike the drivers ahead of him on the list.

        So it’s an interesting statistic, but I wouldn’t read too much into it. With the exception of 4th place man Mansell, Alonso is still has someway way to go to catch those ahead him on the list.

    2. Spinodontosaurus says:

      “of the top 5, Alonso is the only driver never to have had the pleasure to hop into a dominant car.”

      I would put the first half of 2005 and first half 2006 as pretty dominant, albeit it did not last the whole season.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        2005, Alonso won 5 races, this was due mainly to unreliability of the Mclaren. Yet Kimi had won 3 despite this.
        2006, won 7 in total, 6 in the first half, Schumi won 7 too, but 2 in the first half.
        Primarily because Bridgestone out developed Michelin.
        I wouldn’t call either season dominant, because Fisichella wasn’t pushing Fernando for victory at any point.
        Dominance to my mind is 1-2′s for the team.

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      “Alonso is the only driver never to have had the pleasure to hop into a dominant car.”

      Great point and speaks volumes about his talent, doesn’t it??

      In front of him is Schumacher, Prost, Senna and Mansell. Behind him, is Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Niki Lauda and JM Fangio.

      1. LOL says:

        Or a McLaren one year. I seem to remember him being beaten by a rookie then as well….

        So, that is 3 years he has had a dominant car then.

        Kind of puts his level of talent in focus if you look at the truth.

      2. rafa says:

        i tire at these kind of comments:

        a) Beaten as in level points. perhaps you should look into the dictionary for what beaten means.

        b) Somehow everybody in the paddock agrees on the level of talent of Alonso, but they´re probably not privy to your alleged truth. If you don´t like someone, that´s fine, it should´t become an obstacle though to recognizing their talents.

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        The 2007 Mclaren was not dominant. It was one of the best 2 cars.
        In fact, Ferrari won 9 races that year against Mclarens 8.
        Or, Kimi won 6 races, Lewis and Fernando 4 and Massa 3.
        For the life of me, I can’t work out which other 2 years he had the dominant car.

        As rafa says, Alonso was beaten by Raikkonen by a point, he tied with Hamilton.

        To clarify, Schumacher had dominant cars in 1994, 2002 and 2004.
        Prost in 1984, 1988, 1989, and 1993
        Senna in 1988 and 1989
        Mansell, 1986, 1987 and 1992
        Lauda had the dominant car of 1975 and pre Nurburgring accident and of course 1984.
        Clark in 1963 and 1965, whereas Fangio had the same in 1954 and 1955
        All these drivers mentioned are the elite, but have benefited from a dominant car at least once in their careers

        There is also the Ferrari of Ascari in 1952 and 1953 and the Lotus 79 that Andretti dominated the 1978 season with.
        Last season would count as dominant car that saw Vettel dominate the championship.
        Stewart never had a dominant car, he had one of the best cars out there and his skill allowed him to win 27 GPs and 3 WDC.

        No World Champion has ever had a car that was outside the Top 3, but to have a huge number of race wins, normally requires some advantage within the car.

      4. Dave Aston says:

        Can’t compare him with Fangio, Clark or Stewart, they did fewer races per season.

      5. Kevin Green says:

        the only one i would have any possible doubts on would be a comparison to Clark.

      6. hero_was_senna says:

        I wasn’t comparing Alonso’s stats to Clark, Fangio or Stewart. Simply highlighting the names around him.
        Without doubt, had Fangio, Clark and Stewart been racing 18 or 19 races a year, their overall wins would be higher.
        It’s pretty much for these reasons, that although I won’t argue with anybody saying Schumacher is statistically the best ever, I wouldn’t list him in my top 5 of all time.
        Then again, if we’re using the mystical “if”,
        what would Senna’s numbers be? What about Clark if he had survived another 3 or 4 seasons?

        It’s like the points scored in a career, during Prost and Senna’s time the points was 9 for a race win, then changed to 10, now 25.
        Fangios day was 8-6-4-3-2 with point for fastest lap. It’s all meaningless and can back up whatever argument you care to back.

        What about the amount of poles that a driver had?
        Schumacher has 68, Sennas 65.
        Yet Schumachers include some years where race fuel had to be included for qualifying so race strategy was more important hence he had an easier time getting pole. Probably didn’t hurt that when he had a dominant car, he had no opposition.

      7. JohnBt says:

        Alonso must not get a dominant car or else it will be a borefest. Always enjoyed watching him in a lesser car and winning just like Senna. It’s pure joy when he wrings the hell out of the car for a win.

        And he’s still the best overall driver and very deserving.

    4. Martin says:

      One thing I’d add is that every Chinese GP winner is now a world champion. time for freak win by Massa?

  5. Andrew Carter says:

    Can I ask why the pit stop table only shows the best time each team has set, wouldnt a mean average from all of the pitstops they’ve performed be more accurate in placing each team?

    1. Glennb says:

      The table represents all dry races this season. ie, 1 Australia ;)

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        Yes, but McLaren made 4 pitstops in that race, yet only the fastest is represented here, an averae of those 4 would give a much better indication of the pit crews overall performance rather than the single one off superfast turn around.

    2. Peter says:

      That would unfairly skew the times for teams that haven’t had repairs at pitstops (eg. wing changes, etc)

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        Doesnt have to include pitstops where damage was repaired, since to change a front wing they spend about 12 seconds stationary it would massively skew the results.

      2. Peter says:

        So how do you judge which pitstops can be included? Does the pit stop that takes .5 sec longer to sweep debris or gravel out of the air intakes count or not? What about a stripped wheel nut that delays .2 sec? Is that a repair or a pit stop mistake? Too hard to quantify. Best to keep it as an absolute – the fastest only.

  6. Dan Orsino says:

    James, from what you say, Mercedes look to finish out of the points here.
    HAM won twice, but this is also the track where he destroyed his tyres then marooned himself on a tiny gravel island by the pit lane.
    ALO is riding high after his win, but this track is nearer to Melb where he didn’t fare well. I think MAS will mount a big fightback here, but…….
    I fancy BUT, RAI, VET for the podium, or maybe RAI, BUT, MAS

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Podium:

      HAMILTON, Vettel, Webber

      or

      BUTTON, Raikkonen, Schumacher

      or

      Webber, Grosjean, Perez

      or

      … …

  7. andrew says:

    While this might sound a bit different; should the nature of the crowd be a strategic factor? In so many other sports the fans make up a powerful force. Why not in Formula 1 ?

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Seeing as this is China and there arent any fans, I cant see the point.

      1. andrew says:

        Then James ought to say in his strategy report that the crowd is no factor here etc. Because at some venues they will be a factor, and we as students of the sport need to recognize the fan-strategic factor, whether it’s a genuine issue or not. Just to ignore it seems somehow incomplete.

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        In the car the crowd isnt a factor anywhere, the drivers are far too busy driving to be watching the grandstands. Out side of the car it’s effect would be on an individual level and even then only really applicable at home races, yet drivers are so professional these days that it doesnt seem to have any effect.

        I think Villenueve was the last driver to be visibly effected by the homw crowd as he used to choke on a regular basis in the Canadien GP, but even then he seemed to have eliminated that by his last race there.

      3. andrew says:

        Well, if we are to beleive that the crowd is not a factor in the race outcome, then the sponsors really have no business being at the venue, at all (In other words, if a particular sponsor’s team wins it has no grandstand impact, because conversely the supporters played no role in the outcome. there is no audience participation factor, so to speak.). The only important audience for the sponsors then is the silent/motionless one at home; the TV audience. This audience can then be engaged with the sponsors through electronically-produced brand signage, generated by the TV crew (Bernie has already done some of this, if you don’t already know). The cars can then be free of any colour or paint livery at the track, and save the weight, and the pit crews can all wear the same clothing at the track (they will be electronically sponsored-up, as well), etc. etc. Talk about cost savings, here’s a big opportunity.

    2. Ez Pez says:

      the crowd has a effect at your home race, but not so much anywhere else.

    3. Paul J says:

      I’ve heard a lot of drivers say they can’t even see the grandstands when they are in the car, and I’m pretty sure they can’t hear anything but engine!

  8. ewizz says:

    gooo schumiiiiiii :D

  9. Graham says:

    Hi James,

    While I really enjoy reading the preview article you do for each race and playing with the strategy calculator, I feel it would be improved further if you could include a diagram of the track and sector layout. Just a little additiona but would help me visualise your report better.

    Graham

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for the suggestion

      1. SP says:

        Can I make another suggestion please – Just a brief analysis on which cars will be strongest in sector 1, 2 and 3. It would be a handy and interesting fact to know (even a rough idea) before going into qualifying and the race.

        Thanks! :)

    2. [MISTER] says:

      That’s actually a very good suggestion Graham. I was on google to check the track and see where the long straight is positioned. Would be great if this will be included in the next articles.

  10. Nigel says:

    HI James,

    if your calculator is accurate (& it seems to have been pretty good, allowing for the weather at previous races), then saving a new set of the options looks to be important to getting the best race pace again – and of course could be vital in gaining or preserving track position..

    The option looks a slightly better choice than the prime, as it’s quicker, but doesn’t seem to degrade much more rapidly at all.

    The best times for two and three stops (using new prime; new option, and new option; new prime; used option) aren’t very far apart at all, so the choice between two and three stops is likely to be a tactical one.

    1. SteveH says:

      The strategy calculator was interesting. It took me two tries to pick a two stop strategy that beat James time by two seconds, however. Better brush up on that, James!!!

      1. Nigel says:

        There’s a two stop strategy that will beat James by 6 or 7 seconds.

        Lap 18 new options, and lap 38 new primes would do it.

      2. bob says:

        And a 3 stopper that beats his by 10. prime option prime, all new. The new set of options is over 6 seconds.

  11. F1Fan4Life says:

    James, can we hear your prediction for the drivers finishing on the podium this weekend? I’m going with Button, Vettel then Grosjean. And I’ll go with Schumacher 4th.

    1. KRB says:

      You can hear mine. Hamilton, Button, and Webber with his first 2012 podium.

      Hamilton’s always gone well at Shanghai. He was fighting for the win in 2007, won in 2008 and 2011, second in 2010, and moved up 3 places to finish a respectable 6th in Mac’s
      2009 dog of a car. He likes the circuit, and I think is one of the few drivers who really knows how to make the last corner work for him down the start/finish straight (witness pass on Button last year).

  12. Prateek says:

    Hi James, just wondering how the maths add up here. Fule consumption of 2.55 Kg/lap equals 142.8 Kg for the race distance of 56 laps. What is the extra 5.2 Kg needed for?

    1. Yos says:

      I think the extra fuel is for outlap (to the starting blocks), the formation lap and at the end of the 56 laps for the inlap.

  13. Andrew Kirk says:

    Massa really has to up his game in this race. Remind people that he is a Ferrari driver on merit. Either has to be right behind Alonso’s pace or ahead of him.

  14. Ryan Eckford says:

    Mercedes will definitely be a contender for pole position, along with McLaren and Lotus. I feel that Schumacher will get pole position, but Hamilton will beat him in the race, but Mercedes will be much better in the race in China.

  15. Paul J says:

    Great stats, as always. A statisticians delight!

  16. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – any chances the teams use your calculator? hahahah

    1. James Allen says:

      They use a similar tool, but theirs is more sophisticated, clearly. The tyre model is similar though.

  17. jjpm says:

    For those proposing a podium, don’t forget that Andrea Grosjean could strike again!

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      ¿Romain?

      1. Robie says:

        You didn’t get it.

      2. jjpm says:

        oooppsss
        I mean to say : Romain De Cesaris!

  18. Tommy K. says:

    I guess I found a pretty good strategy. Lap 11-soft-new, lap 24-soft-new, lap 38-medium-new. 3 stops, but there have to be new softs available…so, qualifying will be really crucial.

    1. Nigel says:

      You might have trouble qualifying anywhere near the front with that strategy – you need to use the softs to qualify.

      Realistically, I’m not sure it’s possible to have more than a couple of sets of new tyres, and only one of those sets will be the softs.

      You might try 15, new option; 31, new prime; 46, used option
      - or something like that.

  19. tom in adelaide says:

    James – a request. After qualifying could you get one of your braniacs (we all know you have a team of them!) to create a graphic showing a top down image of the track with the pole getter crossing the finish line and all the other cars in their relative positions on the track according to their best qualifying time? It would be interesting to see it presented this way and I’m not smart enough to do it!

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s an interesting idea. Would be good wouldn’t it? I’ll look into how that could be rendered.

      1. Syn says:

        If the gaps between the teams get any closer you’ll only have to render the finishing straight!

      2. Baktru says:

        That’s what I thought as well until I did a quick back of the envelope calculation.
        The number is how far from the line drive X would have been when Hamilton reaches it:

        Hamilton 0.00
        Button 8.57
        Schumacher 9.89
        Webber 13.91
        Raikkonen 13.91
        Vettel 23.80
        Grosjean 25.18
        Rosberg 25.52
        Alonso 66.03
        Perez 71.54
        Maldonado 77.82
        Massa 85.76
        Senna 91.89
        di Resta 93.90
        Ricciardo 94.23
        Hulkenberg 94.62
        Kobayashi 104.56
        Vergne 159.89
        Kovalainen 172.31
        Petrov 186.39
        Glock 257.31
        Pic 275.43
        de la Rosa 360.60
        Karthikeyan 397.64

        Oddly finding a map of the track that has an actual scale on it turned out to be somewhat troublesome, but that would mean that Karthikeyan is just coming out of the final corner when Hamilton crosses the line.

  20. [MISTER] says:

    Any news on Ferrari yet and their updates for China? Have they said anything to the media so far about possible improvements to the car?

    Or they don’t know either until the car hits the track on Friday?
    Thanks

    1. DingBat says:

      Fry said they have 5 upgrades for this weekend with some being “visible” and some “not visible” and with the “major” update ready for Spain. Hope they have their figures right as they need to make an 8sec per lap deficit in qualy pace…

    2. CarlH says:

      I think the biggest update they should implement is hiring some sort of Chinese wiseman to do a rain-dance before the formation lap.

      Being serious though, Pat Fry has confirmed 5 updates for China, saying some are more visible than others. The main package update is still scheduled for Spain though. He estimates Ferrari are currently 8ths of a second per lap behind the front-runners in dry conditions.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I’m not sure I want that rain dance unless you can guarantee Alonso doesn’t finish first, maybe just second, if as someone mentioned earlier the Chinese GP winner hasn’t won the WDC…

      2. CarlH says:

        Agreed, an Alonso 2nd place would do nicely.

        I would say maybe Felipe for 1st, but lets not drift too far into the world of fantasy eh?

  21. Neil Jenney says:

    Interesting reading the list of previous winners. They all seem to have something in common.

    “…Lewis Hamilton is the only driver to have won the race twice, there are five other previous winners in the field; Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel.”

    I’ve never thought of Shanghai as a “the cream rises to the top” circuit like Monaco, Spa or Suzuka, but this list certainly makes a case that makes me want to look closer at the circumstances of each of these victories.

  22. Methusalem says:

    I had no idea that Alonso has been overtaken by Hamilton three weeks ago. Will Vettel lose his 6. place this year?

    1.Michael Schumacher 68 Pole Positions
    2.Ayrton Senna 65 Pole Positions
    3.Jim Clark 33 Pole Positions
    4.Alain Prost 33 Pole Positions
    5.Nigel Mansell 32 Pole Positions
    6.Sebastian Vettel 30 Pole Positions
    7.Juan Manuel Fangio 29 Pole Positions
    8.Mika Häkkinen 26 Pole Positions
    9.Niki Lauda 24 Pole Positions
    10.Nelson Piquet 24 Pole Positions
    11.Lewis Hamilton 21 Pole Positions
    12.Fernando Alonso 20 Pole Positions

  23. MelB says:

    A big thank you to all commentators on this site! Although I don’t comment myself that often I always find it a pleasure to read through the comments.

  24. JohnBt says:

    China podium for dry race:
    Button
    Hamilton
    Kimi

    China podium for wet/drying race:
    Perez
    Kimi
    Alonso

    1. MISTER says:

      You know that you’re pushing it now with Perez again. :)

  25. Nigel says:

    Prime, prime, option, all new is actually around 12 seconds quicker if you optimise it.

    However, the drivers have only 6 sets of dry tyres for qualifying and the race (3 prime & 3 option) -
    http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8680/fia.html

    Getting through qualifying using only three sets of tyres is theoretically possible, but doing so while qualifying at the front of the grid (which probably worth quite a lot more than five or six seconds over the race) would require a great deal of luck.

  26. JDC says:

    James,
    Having never used the strategy calculator before, which is considered beating the normal strategy; above or below the normal curve?

    1. James Allen says:

      Above means you’re faster

  27. Kazim says:

    The debate of dominant cars is as flawed as a footballer scoring with one leg and getting credit for playing wit the same. All those who think Fernando is up there with Clarks and Sennas are going to have a sour taste in their mouth by the end of this post. Since the debate of dominant cars has started, let me connect the dots to conclude a holistic debate.

    Fact No. 1: Fernando Alonso, barring 2007, never had a teammate who was on the same level as he was, and who was “allowed” to compete with him.
    Result: Fernando gained majority of the victories. This helped his stats since his cars were always competitive barring 08 and 09, to an extent 11 as well.

    Fact No. 2: Senna. Prost etc had ruthless teammates in 88,89 and earlier in thier careers.
    Result: Even though they drove dominant cars, in effect there was no dominance since they were both competitive with each other, and therefore the individual outcome of driving dominant cars was the same as driving a competitive car, since they were not given Number one status when they were teammates.

    Fact N0. 3: Since 2004, there has not been a single dominant car in the field, barring the RB7.
    Result: The likes of Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel to an extent, Button all won their championships in the not so dominant cars. So Fernandos feat is nothing great. In fact, all Lewis’s victories have come in competitive and not dominant cars.

    Fact No.4: Fernando had the support of his team. His competitors did not.
    Result:Championship in 2005 with the help of Fisi who did not challenge him. 2010 he came close, with the help of the points given by Massa.

    Fact No. 5: There has been only one time Fernando did not have a dominant car and had a competitive teammate
    Result: Losing out to team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Read my comment down here.

  28. SP says:

    Looking forward to seeing what the Renaults can do providing they have a trouble free weekend….. and if Romain can keep it clean!

    Also wonder if ‘that’ gravel trap is still there. I’m sure Hamilton will know ;)

    One fond memory of this place is Schumi’s win in 2006. It seemed as though he was down and out but did he come back fighting! The way he muscled past a/both Renaults into turn one was brilliant. *off to look for video clips on the net* :)

  29. Mocho_Pikuain says:

    Fact No. 1: Fernando Alonso, barring 2007, never had a teammate who was on the same level as he was, and who was “allowed” to compete with him.

    —-And then it was Fernando who wasn’t allowed to compete…

    Result: Fernando gained majority of the victories. This helped his stats since his cars were always competitive barring 08 and 09, to an extent 11 as well.

    —-U think 2001, 2003 and 2004 were competitive cars???

    Fact No. 2: Senna. Prost etc had ruthless teammates in 88,89 and earlier in thier careers.
    Result: Even though they drove dominant cars, in effect there was no dominance since they were both competitive with each other, and therefore the individual outcome of driving dominant cars was the same as driving a competitive car, since they were not given Number one status when they were teammates.

    —-Prost and Senna had winning cars almost every year, that helps a lot. Fernando only 4 in 11 seasons.

    Fact N0. 3: Since 2004, there has not been a single dominant car in the field, barring the RB7.
    Result: The likes of Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel to an extent, Button all won their championships in the not so dominant cars. So Fernandos feat is nothing great. In fact, all Lewis’s victories have come in competitive and not dominant cars.

    —-Brawn wasn’t dominant? I remember it wasnt possible to put money for jenson that year. And all have had competitive cars every year barring 2008(Seb), 2006 and 2009 (Kimi,) 2009 (Lewis) and before 2008 (Jenson, who’s numbers are not even close to Fernando’s). Fernando has shown he is also the class of the field in driving uncompetitive cars.

    Fact No.4: Fernando had the support of his team. His competitors did not.
    Result:Championship in 2005 with the help of Fisi who did not challenge him. 2010 he came close, with the help of the points given by Massa.

    —-Fisi could not challenge him because he wasnt fast enough. Fernando beat Kimi by 21 ponts with a slower car, u should remember that. 2010 Massa didnt help much, those 7 points would have gone for Fernando sooner or later, Ferrari just wanted it in a safe way.

    Fact No. 5: There has been only one time Fernando did not have a dominant car and had a competitive teammate
    Result: Losing out to team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

    —-Only one time with no dominant car? not even 2007 Macca was dominant. And in the end, with team supporting Lewis he tied with him. The following seasons he has proved to be the best year after year.

    Hope that helped to clean your mind!

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      That was for Kazim!

  30. Kazim says:

    @mocho
    It’s quite a normal thing that in an F1 debate the other Party refuses to understand your point. Anyways. I’ll give it one more shot.

    Your reply for my first fact is not in connosance of the same. You are talking about competitive cars whereas I’m talking about competitive teammates.
    It’s true senna prost had winning cars, but the same goes for fernando. Let us look at senna:
    1984- not a winning car
    1985-1987: lotus which was going downhill. Not a competitive machinery
    88-91: competitive but not dominant due to an equally formidable teammate. That affects a lot.
    92 and 93 were not competitive cars but he did a great job

    Fernando: 01- bad car 02-04- not a winning car, only in 2003 and 2004 Renault showed pace and let fernando won

    Brawn was not a dominant car in 2009. They were dominant in the first half only. Second half belonged to bulls. It’s the same logic for your argument of 2005 and 2006. So let’s call it an off there.

    2005 the championship was decided like 2009. By the time kimi and Mclaren got to their pace fernando was way way ahead. Along with Mclarens poor reliability whatever pace they had did not show in results. Same goes for 2006, where Ferrari struggled in the first half. So in 2005 Renault is faster in first half abd reliable for the whole season whereas Mclaren is faster in second half and not at all reliable throughout the season. If you have watched 2005 then yiu will know what I’m talking about.

    Conclusion:

    Fernando alonso relies the on the entire team to support him otherwise he can’t function. Not the same goes for Lewis kimi and vettel who won with equal treatment. Abd also senna, who had a cut throat teammate. No driver wins without a dominant/competitive car. Senna did it do did Prost, but they also had each other to compete against. Whereas fernando had fisi, who never could maximise the potential of the car as much as he could. Therefore Sienna’s championship was much more difficult. The years when fernando won he had a huge advantage at the start of the year. Lewis kimi and vettel have won from behind having competed all year. Something which ferns do has never ever done. This year looks like another waste for him, Inspite of having a teammate not being able to challenge him. He is a good driver, but nowhere near senna Prost Schumi or Mansell.

  31. Kazim says:

    Fernando alonso
    180 starts
    28 wins
    Number 1 treatment barrIng 2007
    Freedom to design team around himself

    Ayrton senna
    162 starts
    41 wins
    Equal treatment with Prost, the greatest driver after senna. Teammates twice and battle in 1990 which went down the wire.

    Let us not be naive to compare these two.

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