The Chinese Grand Prix has been a part of the Formula One calendar since 2004 and it’s always been held in Shanghai. The track is a typical modern Hermann Tilke designed track and was purpose built for F1. It is clockwise run with 16 corners and is 5.45 kilometers long.

It’s also high speed with some very long corners on it. Namely turns 1-4 and turns 12 and 13. This means you need a car with a good mechanical and aero balance otherwise unusual tyre degradation will affect your race performance. There is a massive long back straight, which will see cars reach 330kph. With a slow 60kph hairpin following it, brakes are important, as drivers will experience over 5g in deceleration there.

Nico Rosberg (GER), Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Nico Rosberg (GER), Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

It’s pretty obvious that Nico Rosberg is coming to China on a high after winning the first two races of the season. He is in a great position in that he is pressure free and driving well. If he can out perform his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, and perhaps snatch another win, things will really start to look good for him in the Championship. He can do it too. He likes the track in Shanghai, don’t forget he got his first pole and win in F1 here in 2012.

Lewis Hamilton should have been pretty relaxed coming into this race. He may not have a win yet in 2016, but his pace has been good and he has two poles to his name. It’s just his starts that have been letting him down. However it will be tough to win this weekend as he has been hit by a five grid penalty for having to change a gearbox that sustained some damage in Bahrain.

The big question is whether Ferrari can challenge for the win. We saw in Bahrain that on race pace, they are really close to Mercedes. With Shanghai being pretty similar to Bahrain on lay out, it’s reasonable to assume that it will be close again between the two teams on a Sunday with Mercedes having the edge in qualifying.

What it may come down to is how hot the track gets on Sunday. Ferrari has slightly better tyre wear in hot conditions, while Mercedes seem to find better pace in cooler ones.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF16-H and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW38 battle for position.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF16-H and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW38 battle for position.

It’s expected that tyre wear is going to be a lot worse here compared to the first two races. With the top eight drivers expected to start on the super soft compound tyre, this could lead to some quite different strategies in the race. We could see these leading teams even stopping within the first five laps if the super soft doesn’t last. If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them four stopping during the race.

It should be another very exciting race really. Let’s not forget that behind the big two, it’s anybody’s guess on how that order will play out. Will Williams get on top of their strategy decisions; will RedBull be able to be best of the rest again despite lacking in straight-line speed? How about Mclaren or Torro Rosso? Could they surprise?

Alex Yoong

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