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Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Apr 2013   |  10:12 am GMT  |  130 comments

After the dramas of the first two Grands Prix, the tenth running of the Chinese Grand Prix should provide another very open contest, with strategic decisions likely to be the deciding factor once again.

After the high temperatures and high tyre degradation of Malaysia, Shanghai will see a less extreme picture, as far as tyre wear is concerned. Whereas Sepang was all about managing the rear tyres, Shanghai is all about getting the front tyres at the optimum temperature for qualifying and then managing them in the race.

The first sector of the 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.


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 2013 FIA F1 World Championship.

The first two races of the season have shown an open picture with Lotus, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all appearing on the podium. Lotus won in Australia and Red Bull in Malaysia. But Mercedes were competitive in both venues and could have challenged for the win in Malaysia without some pit stop and strategy issues. Mercedes won the UBS Chinese Grand Prix last year.

Meanwhile Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was second in Australia but eliminated at the start in Sepang.

The McLaren continues to struggle with aerodynamic and ride issues, which could take some time to correct.

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; Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and 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.

This is the same choice as last year, although the 2013 tyres are quite different in terms of compound and construction; they are far more delicate and require careful management.

The single step between compounds should mean a performance difference of around 0.5secs per lap, with the soft tyre faster and the medium more durable. However we have seen that this varies greatly from team to team with some experiencing far greater differences and others less.

It’s the first time this season that we have seen the soft tyre in action. The medium has been used at both races and was good for up to 30 laps in Melbourne, where the temperatures were cooler, as they will be in Shanghai.

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.

The front tyres are the limiting factor in Shanghai, unlike Malaysia where it was the rear tyres. The front left tyre in particular takes a real beating from the two long right hand corners.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

Last year’s race was won on two stops and hinged on being able to get to lap 13 on the soft tyres used in qualifying; this is the window for two stopping. The winner, Rosberg, then did two longer stints on the medium tyres, dividing the rest of the race into two roughly equal stints of 21/22 laps.

Pre race predictions showed that two stops was faster than three by up to 7 seconds, but the danger was that the two stopping driver would be vulnerable in the last five laps on worn tyres. The key to making a two stop plan work was not leaving yourself too many laps to do at the end on worn tyres. Kimi Raikkonen fell foul of this last year and dropped out of contention in the closing laps. This year’s tyres show a tendency towards needing an extra stop, so China will be an interesting acid test.

It is another race which could favour Lotus and Force India, who appear to be able to make one less stop than their rivals at this stage of the season.

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

Getting a good start can make a huge difference to the way the strategy is managed and the final result, while a poor start compromises a race and makes it harder for the strategy engineers. As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season as follows:
Gained

+5 Perez
+4 Van der Garde
+4 Button
+3 Pic
+3 Alonso
+3 Maldonado
+2 Sutil
+2 Hulkenberg**
+2 Di Resta
+1 Chilton

Held position
Vettel

Lost

-1 Rosberg
-1 Gutierrez
-1 Bottas
-1 Bianchi

-2 Vergne
-2 Massa
-2 Hamilton
-2 Raikkonen

-3 Webber*
-4 Ricciardo
-5 Grosjean

*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia
** Hulkenberg did not start in Australia

Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and there is a greater emphasis on faster stops this year than ever before. We have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams, including Red Bull’s fastest stop in the recent Malaysian GP at 2.05 seconds.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the recent Malaysian Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it.

1. Red Bull 20.736s 

2. McLaren 20.894s

3. Ferrari 20.970
4. Mercedes 21.079s 

5. Toro Rosso 21.638s

6. Sauber 21.699s
7. Lotus 21.892s

8. Marussia 22.016s
9. Williams 22.703s
10. Caterham 22.706s

11. Force India – Delayed stops due to technical issue


The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli

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130 Comments
  1. John McKay says:

    Very informative thank you. The Merc pitstop time is a typo, yes?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, fixed, thanks

  2. sa_lisu says:

    Looks like we would be having an exciting and unpredictable race this weekend.
    I do look forward to seeing Lewis stopping at McLaren to say hi to his former team mates once again.

    1. Grant says:

      :D
      Not impossible that it happen again, hope not!

    2. Quercus says:

      He was lucky that the McLaren pit was straight in front of the Merc pit or he’d have paid the equivalent penalty of a drive-through!

      Don’t worry, there’s not a chance in hell he’ll do it again.

    3. blackmamba says:

      @sa_lisu
      Isn’t Lewis nice. Some drivers leave a team and never pop by again. What a sweet boy!

  3. Giorgio says:

    James, is there any supposition for lap-time drop due to tire degradation per 1 lap? for medium there can be some clue but soft is used 1st time this year i think.

  4. goferet says:

    I could be wrong but I think we may have another high pit stop race in China due to high degradation.

    I recall the 2011 China race causing lots of chaos as drivers were sliding about on worn tyres, also if you take into account the fact that high degradation during winter testing was due to the low temperatures, well, you get the picture.

    Anyway I love this China track for it has always delivered classics with 2008 being the only dull race I can recall.

    So, I think Bernie missed a trick by swapping this race on the calendar for it’s ideal to settle championship fights i.e. has drama. Imagine a calendar that ends with China, Austin and Interlagos >>> #fantastico

    So yes, if it were me, I would replace the Chinese Grand Prix with either Singapore, Korea, Abu-Dhabi or even Suzuka (for despite the tradition >>> very difficult to overtake)

    Anyway, will be fun to catch up with the next episode of the Red Bull saga this weekend and if Webber has another good start, Vettel may have something to think about.

    P.s.

    Maybe there’s a reasonably high chance of a safety car because it tends to rain.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Yeah Im sure Vettel wouldn’t just ‘stay 3 seconds behind’ Webber if he falls behind on track, but in honest assessment bet against Seb at your peril, betring odds don’t lie they know whos strong and whos just a pretender (Hamilton).

      1. Poyta says:

        Fairly certain Hamilton wasn’t pretending when he won the last two times in China.

  5. goferet says:

    Some China stats:

    a) Mclaren and Ferrari have been equally strong in China with 3 wins each. Renault, Mercedes and Red Bull are on one wins.

    b) Ferrari and Mclaren are the only back to back winners

    c) Rubens and Nico (both Schumi’s teammates) are the only non world champion winners in China (Massa missed a chance because the big man won it in 2006)

    d) China slightly favours the pole guy with 5 out of 9 winners having come from pole and with the exception of 2011, in all dry races, the pole guy has won.

    Similarly with the exception of Vettel in 2009, all wet races haven’t been won from pole.

    e) Ever since the race was changed on the calendar in 2009, no winner in China has gone on to win the title

    1. Glennb says:

      e) Ever since the race was changed on the calendar in 2009, no winner in China has gone on to win the title

      Soooo, you’re saying Webber is a huge chance in China ;)

    2. Alexander Supertramp says:

      Well, taking form, track and tyre choice made by Pirelli into consideration, my money is on Mercedes.

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      For a change, I will support Vettel for the winner…

  6. blackmamba says:

    I guess after this weekend we will have some idea as to where Lotus and Merc stack up relative to the Bulls and Ferrari in regards to championship contention. Unless it rains as well.
    MacLaren seemed to make a forward step last race so with three weeks to get their house in order they might just have caught up to the back of the Merc, whom I assume haven’t been tweedling their thumbs meanwhile.
    All in all it makes for a fascinating weekend with the added spice of the politics at Red Bull where one hopes Webber will do to Vettel something utterly jaw-dropping. Or maybe not. He is such a mild mannered guy, what a shame.

    1. LiamC says:

      methinks that if Webber is anywhere near Vettel, then there will be some glitch that drops him back 15 or so seconds…

      1. DonSimon says:

        Fuel problem for sure!

    2. brad says:

      Like…..turn his engines down and let it happen again? If there is a nasty Mark, let’s see it on the timing board.

    3. Dave C says:

      Webber well mannered? Haha you got me there well funny. So you want him to take Vettel out? Nice thought but I hope Nico shows hos pace and stuffs Hamilton, results so far at Mercedes have been artificial Nico’s been quicker all winter its time to show it or just stay midfield for rest of the season.

      1. fursty ferret says:

        Wow hamiltons outqualified rosberg in the 1st 2 races by a fair old distance, andyou think rosbergs been faster, testing dosnt count, you no that right, im a alonso fan but rosberg needs to get up to speed in qualifying quick before hamilton gets up to speed with the tyres in the races, if rosberg can then good luck to him

      2. Quade says:

        I wonder why many Vettel lovers turn the most unconnected arguments into punts against Lewis, even though he doesn’t drive for Red Bull like Webber does?

      3. [MISTER] says:

        Nico’s been quicker in testing..and we all know how much relevant testing is. In case you don’t know, the word, testing, says it all. Is to test stuff!

        In the races and qualy Lewis was quicker in both GPs so far. How about that?

      4. Yeahright says:

        In both races Hamilton was faster? Are you sure you are watching the right F1 season?

        Rosberg was faster in both (in first race his car broke down and in the second race he was ordered to drive slower than Hamilton).

    4. HR says:

      Uhh Mark never struck me as the ‘mild-mannered’ sort to be honest

  7. goferet says:

    Will be interesting to see if the pattern in China continues.

    Yes, currently we have had 2 pole winners followed by 2 non pole winners.

    Right after that, we have had 2 pole winners followed by yet again 2 non pole winners.

    So Rosberg’s win in 2012 was potentially the first of the next pole winning double.

    1. Sebee says:

      What will be interesting for me is to see if McLaren updates do the trick. If yes, it will really make things tight up front.

  8. Cakes says:

    Love this preview always.

    So, if its a three stopper, I take it Red Bull will not race after lap 40/41?

    One other interesting stat is how far off Lotus are in the Pitstop league table. This has been evident since last year and we saw in Australia that the gap between Kimi and Alonso got bigger after they both came in for their first stops!

    1. Glennb says:

      @Cakes
      So, if its a three stopper, I take it Red Bull will not race after lap 40/41?

      That will depend on whether it’s a “Multi 21″ or a “Multi 12″. 2 very different scenarios with unpredictable outcomes ;)

      1. Bluefroggle says:

        I think Multi 21 and Multi 12 have been banned now. Horner said the drivers (Seb and Mark) could not understand them.

    2. RampantHaddock says:

      To be honest I don’t know why more isn’t made of Lotus’ slow pit stops…it was the same last year, and basically means the team are already giving rivals a 3 second head start in each race. Surely they should be looking at how to improve their pit stop times- James, do you know if it’s down to the gear they use, or is it just they’re not that quick changing a set of tyres?

      1. Rach says:

        It’s not necessarilly all about speed though. It is more about the average time and possibly also about limiting mistakes. Ask Mclaren about that!

  9. I know says:

    Assuming a dry race and given that two stops were very marginal last year, I don’t expect two stops from anyone this year (except for someone starting on fresh tyres after qualifying). However, 3 stops this year will not be as marginal as 2 stops were last year, so perhaps counterintuitively, strategy could be less important than it was last year (where it could be argued that it was the most important component).

    Still, the sequence of compounds used and the sequence (rather than the number) of pitstops could make things very interesting. S-M-M-M? S-M-M-S? S-M-S-S? S-S-M-S? Plenty of options!

    1. Pete_from_Nepal says:

      Well, I suppose teams will try something like this? Read with me to see if this makes sense.

      The first tire is sure to be a S (at least front runners).

      The second would most likely be a M so that team can see just how well they cope with in the race and see if that data matches their practice runs. That also gives them the flexibility for two or three stops. Most likely the third tire will be M if two stops. If three stops either M or S, although most teams might go with M. For the fourth stop, it will be S in order to not be vulnerable towards the end.

      So, in summary:
      Two stops: S-M-M
      Three stops: S-M-M(or S)-S

      Two caveats:
      I can’t remember the tire allocations.
      Weather

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      Can’t we have no refuelling and no tyre changes for for 2015 please

      1. Random 79 says:

        …and no overtaking either.

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        You didn’t like my suggestion then?

      3. Vidge 123 says:

        +1 thats an utterly ridiculous idea! lets just have entirely processional races shall we?…

      4. DonSimon says:

        Yeah, the Bridgestone era of everlasting tyres was amazing.

      5. Random 79 says:

        If we had no refuelling and no tyre changes that would be perfectly pure racing, which is awesome in theory, but in practice it just leads to boring races nine times out of ten where the drivers just follow each other around for fifty or sixty odd laps.

        I don’t like artificial racing. I’d like to see DRS and flimsy sensitive tyres gone, but not at the expense of entertaining races.

        At some point someone will think of a better way: Until then let’s enjoy what we’ve got :)

      6. Stephen Taylor says:

        No lets have no pit stops and just one tyre compound , a supersoft tyre.

      7. Random 79 says:

        No pit stops and just the supersoft?

        Are you serious?

        You would have a five or ten lap race, closely followed by an hour and a half of the twenty or so best drivers in the world sitting around drinking coffee.

      8. Stephen Taylor says:

        Yes I am serious, I wouldno wet condition tyres and Monaco, Korea , India , Abu Dhabi and China off the calander . The races to return would be San Marino , Austria , Argentina Europe (at Jerez)and an Asia Pacific GP at Fuji.

    3. Poyta says:

      I think the only ones that could make a two stop work and still have good pace would be Mercedes and Lotus. My bet is on Lotus – they were incredibly good on their tyres in Melbourne and with similar conditions in China I expect much the same. Red Bull were quite bad with regards to Tyre wear so unless they have found something in the last few weeks I see them struggling to make a 2 stopper.
      This all depends on the weather of course. I for one am hoping its dry for the whole weekend so we get a clearer picture of the teams pace that isn’t hampered by weather fluctuations and variables.

  10. Anil says:

    Last couple of years have produced some great races with drivers trying to make fewer stops work and failing ever so slightly (Vettel in 2011, him and kimi last year).

    China was a pretty poor race when it used to be at the end of the season but since they’ve moved it, the unknowns at the beginning of the year and the weather have spiced things up. If only they could move India and make it back to back with China, it could give us a good race there.

    Anyway, looking forward to race. It’s never been a strong track for Ferrari, despite Schumacher’s amazing win there in 2006…hoping for an Alonso podium!

    1. Sebee says:

      Can you believe F1 has raced here 10 years? Somehow doesn’t feel like it.

  11. George Matthew says:

    James, you say Mclaren continue to struggle. Did you by chance read the Mark Hughes column on Sky? He says Mclaren’s season hinges on some Aero package to be unleashed in China. Do you believe this and do you think if they get it right we could be seeing a Button podium. P.s he is quite good on this track

    1. Formula Zero says:

      I am with James on this one. The bottom line is McLaren is not a championship contendor this year. But we will find out how much the cars improved over the last 3 weeks when it hits the fp1. I read the Mark Hughes column & many other columns about McLaren. I believe in points & performance on the race day (that’s all it counts). It will be nice to see the McLarens do well, but I am not convinced they will. We shall see

  12. iceman says:

    Mercedes had tremendous pace in China last year, will be interesting to see if that is repeated. Did they have something that particularly suited the Shanghai circuit, or was it just that they were the only ones to nail the operating window of the tyres in that particular race?

    1. Doohan says:

      I think the fact they couldn’t really manage their tyres actually worked well in cold conditions last year.
      As they had problems keeping their tyres from overheating, in the cool conditions they were able to get it spot on while other teams who could manage their tyres better took a longer time to heat up their tyres.

  13. Miha Bevc says:

    After a long time I will have to miss this race. Working weekend, too bad. Replaying the race is just not the same :(

    1. Random 79 says:

      It’s not the same: If you watch a recording you can skip the ads :)

      There’s a good and bad side to everything :)

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        I pretty much have to watch ALL the races on recordings due to various work and family commitments. The trick is, to make sure to get the right recording start time (LOL) and never, never, never, NEVER……..watch TV or listen to a radio before you get to watch it!! :)

      2. Random 79 says:

        Yep, I’ve made both of those mistakes :)

        The first is a nuisance, the second just kills it.

  14. James, under what circumstances other than wet qually-dry race would a driver in the top 10 be able to have new tyres to start on. Would there be a grid penalty if say a driver had a puncture on his out lap after setting his fastest lap and couldn’t use those tyres? Just wander that was all and I can’t seem to find the answer anywhere so thought you would be the man to ask.

    Loveing the entire JA on F1 content these days. Wish it was possible to have a podcast inbetween every race weekend but I do understand they must take some organising so please don’t take it as criticism, just wishful thinking on my behalf.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Any driver who had a puncture (or any other kind of tyre failure) should be able to get a shiny new set of tyres to start the race with, but the flip side is that they would have to start from the pit lane.

      1. That’s a bit crappy, specially if they got pole but I suppose you can’t have it all ways. Would that still apply if say another car hit them wile minding there own business on an in lap? I know it’s not that important but just trying to expand my understanding.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Yeah I can see why you’d say that, but if it wasn’t that way then every driver would have a tyre failure on their out lap :)

        Yep, so far as I know if there is anything that needs to be and can be fixed just before the race it’s all done in the pit lane, and that’s where they start, whether it’s their fault or not.

        I suppose the primary reason would be that you can’t have mechanics running around on the grid as the lights go out :)

        Don’t worry about asking “unimportant” questions; they’re the ones no-one else thinks to ask. Keep them coming ;)

      3. iceman says:

        Is that a change to the rules this year?
        In the past, a damaged tyre from qualifying could be replaced with Jo Bauer’s permission without penalty. He would select the replacement tyre that the team would be allowed to use, and it would be one that had done a similar number of laps.

      4. Random 79 says:

        Possibly in special cases, but so far as I know what I said is correct.

      5. iceman says:

        I took the trouble to download the 2013 sporting regulations and the rule is the same this year.

        If a driver flat-spotted their qualifying tyres then they would almost certainly be looking at a penalty if they changed them before the race. But cases of punctures or other tyre failures – which is what you were talking about – are clearly what the rule was written to cater for, and a replacement would be allowed without penalty.

        The relevant clause is 25.4(e) by the way.

      6. Random 79 says:

        Yep I stand corrected.

  15. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Interesting this year the intra-team fights, for example now in China, where Mercedes won last year and it runs well in the cold. If ROSBERG has the upper hand over Hamilton, after the team order saga in Malaysia that favored the later, the status of number 1 driver comes into play.

    Regarding Ferrari, Massa’s performance versus Alonso will be scrutinized as well.

    If we consider Red Bull after the “Multi 21″ failure, certainly both drivers has a lot to demonstrate and to keep a gap in the standings are very important, given that consistency is a major challenge this year where points are limited since more drivers are capable to take points.

    Maybe the worst team-order saga was
    with Williams in 1981 when REUTEMANN ignored team orders when the team wanted again to favor reigning Champion ALAN JONES. Reutemann got the upper hand and in the last race when he went to get the WDC, Jones did not let him pass and, therefore, Reutemann lost the Championship for a single point from Nelson PIQUET.
    So sad…
    Will Red Bull repeat history’mistake?

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Correction: not true Jones did not let him pass (Jones won the race, Piquet 5th and Reutemann only 8th, with points given from 1st to 6th at that time). What happens was before the race Jones was not going to help Reutemann. Next season, after the 2nd race, Reutemann left the sport.

      1. Scott says:

        The first story was much more entertaining.

      2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        After racing, Lole Reutemann was almost President of Argentina.

      3. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        Correction: Reutemann was only Governor and he did not want to be President…
        So sad.

      4. Scott says:

        The story just get’s better & better. We need more characters like this in F1.

        Alan Jones however went on to become a has been racing in V8 Supercars in Australia bringing up the rear of the field & now gaining guest appearances on F1 broadcast specials as Australia’s last F1 champion. As yet he has not declared his intention to run for Prime Minister of Australia.

    2. Poyta says:

      I think you are over exaggerating the Mercedes intra-team battle and making assumptions about number 1 and 2 status. I think its way too early to make those assumptions, especially after only 1 incident so far. Both Hamilton and Nico will be professional enough to put it past them and not worry about intra-team battles. With Redbull there is a long 3-4 year history of it so I expect more fire-works there and looking forward to it too.

  16. Random 79 says:

    ‘with strategic decisions likely to be the deciding factor once again’

    Fernando, are you listening? ;)

    Here’s hoping for a good, solid entertaining race :)

    1. Clear View says:

      Fillipe is faster than you! LOL

    2. aj says:

      Apparently Red Bull are restricting their ability to operate strategically as they will now abandon the use of team orders wp.me/p2HWOP-3Wj

  17. Doohan says:

    Just a question about the predicted pit stop times James
    Does this take into account the deviation away from the track? As in how long it takes to get from the track to the pit lane as well as the put lane traveling time.
    As I think this would add a couple of seconds to the total pit time if its not already included.
    It may also be why in broadcasts the commentators may get it wrong about it being really close when it’s in fact 2 seconds difference between the cars when they both emerge.

  18. Quade says:

    Slow corners? Red Bull and Merc will rule this circuit.
    I wish Kimi and Lotus good luck too.

    1. Han says:

      of course you do, otherwise your kimi and the wdc game over statement after australia would still look silly wouldn’t it?

      1. Quade says:

        Kimi is a great driver who is deserving and capable of winning the WDC.
        I’m a Lewis fan by the way, but acknowledge other supreme talents like Hulkenburg, Alonso and Kimi. So, yeah. I wish Kimi luck.

      2. Han says:

        AGAIN, no one had ever said kimi isn’t a great driver nor that he had the ability to win the title nor that he would be deserving. Lotus still might show that malaysia was a one off in performance for them. Comments were based on the absurdity that you thought after the first of twenty races that the WDC picture was clcear and was game over to kimi. Knee jerk conclusions about a whole season after one race are premature to say the least.

      3. Quade says:

        Lol!

        You admit that Kimi is a great driver, so how can you claim that it is absurd for me to suggest him as a possible WDC this year?

        Kimi is good enough to win it this year, I stick by that and wish him luck in Shanghai.

      4. Han says:

        you didn’t suggest he COULD win, everyone knew that. after australia, you said the wdc was kimis and game over for the rest of the field. that was your absurdity.

      5. Quade says:

        I didn’t suggest he “could win?!” Haha!
        Here is what I said again:

        “Quade Reply:
        March 17th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        Judging from the bruising domination of the Lotus at this race, it could be game over for the season.
        It was quite a shock when Kimi who only two stopped, put in the fastest lap of the race toward the end, at a point when the field expected his tyres to be knackered!

        Kimi could be WFC again and he deserves it too.”

        http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2013/03/relentless-raikkonen-leaves-rivals-trailing-in-australian-grand-prix/

        Do you now see how ASURDLY I used the word, “could?” Lol!

      6. Han says:

        what’s clear is you have a reading problem and are picking and choosing your quotes. my original comment was that kimi could win but it was silly to talk about the wdc being over after 1 race. you responded saying his performance was ominous. no one has EVER said kimi couldn’t win. but saying game over and ominous after 1 race IS absurd, silly and knee jerk. keep kimi nut hugging…it’s okay.

      7. Quade says:

        Picking and choosing statements?
        That is my original statement up there; it is your responsibility to be honest in your words and fair to all drivers.

        Its obvious that Kimi can win it this season.

      8. Han says:

        please find once where i said kimi could not win. in fact maybe in every single post i have said that. please learn to read and comprehend. again, saying anything is game over or remotely close to it or something is ominous for the rest of the season after 5% of the races is ridiculous.

      9. Quade says:

        Yah, you are soooooo right!
        I will now sit in the naughty corner and never ever mention Kimi nor express my opinion anymore. Dear Leader, your “wisdom” is supreme indeed. Haha!

        Sir, it was nice talking.

  19. Steve says:

    Hi James,

    I like these race preview articles you do.

    With regard to the track characteristics, can you provide the averages across all tracks too? It’s interesting to know that drivers will be on full throttle for 55% of the time at Shanghai, but if the average was, say, 72% then I would know not to expect any engine failures (for example).

  20. Richard says:

    Assuming teams get the tyre strategy right, I expect the team that has the most effective upgrades will win this race. Red Bull are a good bet, but I’m interestd to see what improvements Mercedes can make, and of course Ferrari will be there or thereabouts. Assuming a dry race then Lotus could be right there again in China. McLaren I think will make up ground, but it’s too early for them to get right in the mix again as I think the higher temperatures helped them last race, and fundamental problems take time to analyse and work through. Force India may also have a good points finish.While we’ll have to I can’t wait for weekend.

  21. Oz Geezza says:

    My two bob worth.
    Weather permiting this coming weekend China F1
    will show a true participants in the hunt for
    2013 drivers/constructors champoinship.
    With the 1.2km long stright one feels is to the
    Ferrari fore,fact the Ferrari powered cars on
    the stright are the fastes on the grid.
    Perhaps is the very reason why Massa is very
    cocky obout his chances at this w/end F1.
    In view of their reasonable management of tyre’s and without doubt the best launch start
    system on the grid, they should claim 1/2 failing that they should give it away and concentrate on new generation of F1.
    with the full proof ” KERS”

    1. Poyta says:

      True and the RedBull have traditionally always been the slowest in that long straight – so add their high tyre wear that was evidenent in Melbourne, their often malfunctioning KERS and their intra-team battle with Vettel/Webber and all of a sudden it may not look that good for the Bulls.

    2. yugin says:

      I am a Ferrari fan, but I have to disagree with you. The 1.2km long straight means nothing much; Korea and India have similar straights but you don’t see Ferrari dominating there. Besides, it’s the Mercedes and not the Ferrari engine which is the most powerful and hence provides the greatest advantage down the straights.

  22. Chromatic says:

    If wet, or damp, its gotta be Alonso

    If dry then Kimi is the man. He can probably stretch his tyres another lap or two beyond 22, if the Lotus was set up for a dry race

    These tyres make it more crucial than ever to get an accurate weather forecast. Don’t know if the top teams are investing more in this area?

    1. Poyta says:

      If its wet it will be a clean Red Bull win. They have been incredible in the wet. Clearly much faster than anyone else. Our only chance will be a dry race in which case I agree it may be Kimi though I wouldn’t rule Mercedes out.

      1. . says:

        Our? Lol.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Slip of the tongue?

        I guess Lotus will have to think up another user name – can’t be iceman, that one’s already taken ;)

      3. Poyta says:

        Yes “Our”. I’m pretty sure as viewers we don’t want to see another 2011 with Red Bull driving off into distance. Pretty sure we all want to see some actual racing.

  23. bbobeckyj says:

    please can you add a plan/circuit diagram in these articles. The circuit is described and then I have to go elsewhere to see what it’s describing.

    1. Peter says:

      It could be an issue with copyright. Just a guess, though.

  24. Christian in MK says:

    I don’t agree about Mercedes challenging for the win in Malaysia. Red Bull was in full control of that race. The RBR drivers, that’s another story.

    1. Poyta says:

      If you recall Mercedes had better pace than RedBull in Malaysia with Hamilton actually passing Vettel while Rosberg was continuously setting fastest laps and gaining. It was only because their hope for more wet weather and a possible safety car didn’t work out and realizing they didn’t have enough fuel to maintain that pace where forced to back off.
      Obviously with more fuel on board they would have been slower but I would imagine that it would have placed them at similar pace to RedBull but with superior pace thanks to their better tyre preservation it may have resulted in a win.

      1. . says:

        Hamilton only passed Vettel in the pits thanks to the Webber train (which some suggested he did on purpose to disadvantage Vettel, which then set him off and do what he did as payback).

      2. Poyta says:

        There was no Webber Train – he was driving to a set lap time advised by the team crucial to having enough fuel and tyres to last the end of the race – so was Vettel hence why they didn’t get webber to move over. They were going as fast as they could – Mercedes obviously were faster.

  25. Stephen Taylor says:

    Bit off topic James but do you think there is any chance of a disabled driver racing in F1. Do you think the FIA will ever allow someone who is physically handicapped to with adaptive controls to assist them,without perceiving it gaining an advamtage unfair on the other drivers? If not is it something you feel the FIA should look into?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question. There are precedents in other series

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        Could you get the rule book out James?

    2. Random 79 says:

      I don’t think there are any rules prohibiting a handicapped driver from competing in F1, so long as:

      A – They have a super license like everyone else.
      B – They are as fast as everyone else (if not faster).
      C – The other teams don’t complain too much if they do end up being faster.

      In reality, I expect that if there ever was any sort of handicapped driver in F1 then it would be a pay driver.

      It might be harsh and insulting to say it, but such a driver would have to be much faster then the others or bring tons of money to the team to be worth the extra cost of outfitting an F1 car with special controls.

      1. iceman says:

        Given how much F1 teams are willing to spend to gain thousandths of a second, I don’t think they’d have to be _that_ much faster.

    3. Dan says:

      Good question alright, but don’t the Safety Regs say that a driver must be able to get out of the car within a certain time (I’m sure somebody will know how many seconds). This may not be strictly enforced now, but with a handicapped driver it becomes something too big to ignore…imagine if the car caught fire…

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        Surely F1 could help develop technologies to help a disabled driver. How a about manual seat release the driver could operate? Keep the ideas coming.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Good point.

        Last I heard it’s five seconds – and it is strictly enforced – but – handicapped or not – if the driver can do it they can do it. If not, they don’t drive for exactly that reason.

  26. andrew c says:

    As a huge F1 fan I hate the cynical attitude I’ve developed. I read the headline for this article and immediately thought this:
    RBR on pole due to qualy oriented setup with shorter gearing etc.
    Hamilton drags his Merc into the top 3 to a position it can’t keep in race trim.
    Button bemoans some setup issue and crawls in 9th claiming the team are doing great and he needs an unusual race to so well.
    RBR (lets just say Seb) pulls away at the start and opens a 3 second lead over a fast starting Alonso. He holds the lead managing his tyres.
    Further down the pack the rest shuffle for position in to settle down into a tyre management endurance race.
    Seb wins with Alonso or Webber 2nd or 3rd.
    Sorry for the cynicism. I detest the current ‘endurance’ formula. Ironically I guess ill be waiting for the Le Mans endurance race this year to see proper flat out racing. Sad days.

    1. Flakey says:

      I detested the bridgestone era. Races where unless your car was three seconds a lap faster than the one in front, your only chance of passing them was in the pits, or a mistake.

      BY the end of that time I would watch the first two laps and predict the top 8 with about a 90% success rate.

      1. Quade says:

        That was because of aero effiency of that era creating turbulence that made the chasing car unstable.
        You can check out an example of the era’s ridiculous aero here:
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/22307965@N06/2993118123

        It had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with Bridgestone tyres.

        The aero issue has now been fixed with the current shovel front wings, barn house rear wings etc. Cars have also been further equipped with DRS to increase speed for overtaking. Now, many initially complained about DRS, but since it is controlled by the driver, such complaints have faded away.

        The tyre situation is very different, because it gives a 3rd party the ability to control races, possibly influence team success, or even fix races.
        Above all, it makes F1 unacceptably artificial; a racing series were the slowest, most ordinary driver can win a race by cooing to his tyres. No more blood pumping, seat-of-pants driving.

        Thank goodness there will be a review of tyre policy, come Bahrain.

  27. Vig says:

    Hi James,

    Why not have
    ^,^1,^2 so on to indicate *, **, *** comments against the name of the drivers.

    As last season, there were so many stars come the end of season.

    Cheers,
    Vig

  28. Elie says:

    This is a traction and horsepower circuit even if they are on throttle for “only” 55% of the lap. The Mercedes should be specials for this circuit. Ferrari must surely be next in line with Alonso desperate to make amends .

    The big question is how much performance – both speed and durability can we see from the softs. If Lotus can get 18-20 laps out of a new set at the end of the race – they could surely win but on the same 3 stop strategy Mercedes , Ferrari and Red Bull must be specials.

  29. micks@sa says:

    It will be the first dry weekend. Yay! Expect Lotus to dominate the race..

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      If Only

  30. . says:

    You can sense James is trying really hard to not mention tyres tryes tyres because everyone seems to hate it, while we all know this race, like all in 2012, will be about tyres tyres tyres.

  31. F1fan4life says:

    James how about a lil insight, which three drivers do you think will stand on the podium Sunday? I’m going with Kimi, Alonso and Rosberg.

  32. Nigel says:

    Two DRS zones – and particularly the retention of DRS on the huge straight – suggests that three stopping is going to be favoured, as re-passing the two stoppers isn’t going to be tough at all.

  33. JPS says:

    James,

    What would happen if Vettel is leading with Webber second in China. Say he lets Webber past due to a massive guilt complex from the last race. How would he be perceived by the public?
    Would he gain fans from giving up a win to right a wrong? This could help Redbull by getting even more free publicity. Bernie would love it!
    ps On Bernie has he bought a place in Brazil yet? What’s the story with bribery case will they charge him?

    1. James Allen says:

      Do you see that happening?

    2. Random 79 says:

      ‘What would happen if Vettel is leading with Webber second in China’?

      Webber will have a go, that’s what will happen.

      Everything else you said sounds great and it would be great if it actually happened…but it won’t.

  34. Chris says:

    shaping up to be a great race! anyone who reads this, please check out my blog!! itsanf1life.com. Thank you!

    James, who is your prediction for the win?

  35. Expect the unexpected!
    Three weeks!?!
    That is quite a while for several of the development departments of the top formula one teams.
    However, we come from a base, three weeks ago, of:
    a. Red Bull is the fastest car, can qualify at the top;
    b. Ferrari is fast, can qualify good;
    c. Lotus has had the lowest tire degradation over an entire race distance in the wet, probably won’t be able to qualify on the first two rows, and will be close on race pace;
    d. Mercedes are fast, can qualify high (now), may be in the top two teams for tire management, and are the fastest improving team, just ahead of Red Bull, so far this season;
    e. McLaren were trending positive from a poorly understood base machinery, and three weeks is long time for them to develop their car.

    It looks wide open to me.
    I still expect Red Bull to be the fastest.
    I still expect Lotus and Mercedes to have the best tire management capability over dry race distance.
    Everything else, to me, is open.
    Which teams can out-drag their chief rivals, in the development game?
    For right now, it is highly speculaory to use a pre-race analysis for this race, to try to predict outcomes. What should actually be understood from it, is that it is very difficult for anyone to predict the results.

    Good for us, the fans.

    Another great article, James.

    1. …of course that is a typo about Lotus, all paying attention know that it is over the race distance in the dry, that they excel.

      1. Quade says:

        …But, in dry Malaysia, they were nowhere, while in semi-wet Australia, Kimi waltzed it.
        Never get taken in by curve balls thrown by team principals.

      2. Elie says:

        In Australia it was a drying track with no rain In Malaysia it was still raining at the back part of the track and wet for the first 5-7 laps. Lotus lost 20+ seconds in this time alone and you could see Raikkonen skating all over the place trying to keep up. No bull there

  36. Stephen Taylor says:

    I was wondering if the mandatory number of for there to be a result had not been completed. and then everybody crashes out are all unable to restart would there be no result? What is the regulation?

    1. Random 79 says:

      http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8682/

      But if everyone crashes out I’m guessing they’d be classified in the order they crashed out, but I have no idea how the points would be allocated in that instance or even if they would be.

      I’m not aware of that ever happening before, and I think it’s extremely unlikely that it ever has happened before, but I might be wrong.

      Trivia time:

      What is the lowest number of drivers to ever complete a race?

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        On the Road -1996 Monaco 3 crossed the line however 7 were classified
        Official however the official record is held by the 1966 Monaco Grand Prux with only 4 classified finishers all who crossed the line.
        Note: 1966 is also the only time Monaco has held the opening round of the World Championship.

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