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Chinese GP: Phenomenal Alonso takes first win of the season for Ferrari in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Phenomenal Alonso takes first win of the season for Ferrari in ShanghaiFernando Alonso was in total control this afternoon as he convincingly won round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship at the Shanghai International Circuit. Thanks to a spot on strategy, the Spaniard was able to beat Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel who were not fast enough to catch the Ferrari.

“It was a fantastic race for us from the start to the end without any big problems from the car,” said the winner. “The tyre degradation was better than expected so we managed the pace. It feels great after the retirement in Malaysia because we had some pressure to finish the race.”

It was a somewhat chaotic race in Shanghai, as drivers were on different strategies, but it was Alonso who ultimately cruised to victory. At the start of the race it was this time Raikkonen who had a bad start, and both Ferraris went right past the Lotus, while Hamilton in the Mercedes stayed in the lead.

Ferrari celebrating victory at Shanghai - Photo: Ferrari

Ferrari celebrating victory at Shanghai – Photo: Ferrari

But after the DRS was enabled, Hamilton didn’t stand a chance and the 2008 World Champion had to watch how both Ferraris passed him. Hamilton immediately made his first pit stop and changed to the medium Pirellis, but he tumbled down the order.

At the same time Esteban Gutierrez misjudged his braking point at the end of the straight and hit the Force India of Adrian Sutil. The Mexican retired on the spot, Sutil made it back to the pits with heavy damage, but had to end his race.

Gutierrez admitted it had been his fault and said, “Right before going into the long straight I had Checo [Sergio Perez] fighting behind me, and I approached the corner too fast. I was braking at the same place where I usually brake, however, didn’t anticipate the loss of downforce and the amount of speed I had. I tried my best to stop, but didn’t succeed.”

Gutierrez crashed into Sutil's Force India - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Gutierrez crashed into Sutil’s Force India – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sutil was obviously very disappointed and commented, “My rear wing was broken and there was no option but to stop. It’s always a shame not to finish a race and I had a good chance of scoring more points today. I was on the soft tyre and the strategy looked to be shaping up well.”

At that point Nico Hulkenberg was leading the race, but when he pitted he lost the lead. Not much later there was a second incident, Mark Webber, who had started the race from the back of the grid, was a bit too eager and tangled with Jean-Eric Vergne, the Australian damaged his front wing and had to pit for repairs.

Unfortunately for him, his right rear wheel wasn’t secured properly when he left the pits, and while he was cruising to get back to the pit lane, the wheel came loose and that was the end of Webber’s race. Webber said about the incident, “It was a couple of laps before our pit stop window, so I had to come in early. The guys thought the tyre was fixed when we left the stop, but it came off on the out lap.”

More chaos as Raikkonen ran into the back of Sergio Perez, the Finn damaged his front wing but elected to not change it, and despite the damage he was still fast enough to record the fastest lap at that stage of the race.

Jenson Button in the McLaren was leading the race as he was on a different strategy, but he was passed by Alonso who was much quicker on his new tyres. But more importantly, Raikkonen and Hamilton were still behind the Ferrari, and they still had to pit.

Due to the different strategies, Hamilton was now closing in on Button, and Button was advised over the radio to engage the battle with the Mercedes driver, while at the same time Vettel was told not to fight Alonso who had showed up in his rear-view mirrors, and not much later Alonso passed the triple World Champion without a problem.

Second place for the Iceman today - Photo: Lotus F1

Second place for the Iceman today – Photo: Lotus F1

Button was still on his second set of tyres, but his tyres went deterioated very quickly, and both Hamilton and Vettel passed the 2009 World Champion, who then dashed into the pit lane for his last tyre change.

On lap 39 Alonso was still leading, and was followed by Vettel and Button, the Spaniard made his last pit stop on lap 41, Vettel was now right behind him but still had to make a stop to change to the soft tyres, which he hadn’t used yet.

When Vettel pitted and rejoined the race on the soft tyres, he was almost three seconds per lap faster, but it was too little, too late, and Alonso was able to cruise to the finish line. Vettel made a last-minute attempt to overtake Hamilton in third place, but he made two mistakes and ultimately finished in fourth place.

Raikkonen apparently had aimed to win the race, as he later said, “Second wasn’t quite what we wanted, but in the circumstances it was the best that we could manage today. I’m not 100% happy because we didn’t win, but it is what it is and second place is a good result after a bad start and the incident with Sergio [Perez].”

About the loss of downforce due to the damaged front wing he commented, “It was quite difficult out there; obviously the car is not designed like that otherwise we would use it all the time, but I was surprised how good it was still!”

Second podium place for Mercedes and Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Second podium place for Mercedes and Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Hamilton, who had started from pole and finished in third place, was nevertheless happy with the result, “It was a good race for me today and whilst I would have loved the win, I’m really happy with third place and being on the podium for the second race in a row.”

And he added, “Fernando and Kimi were just a little bit too fast for us during the race and my tyres were shot at the end trying to keep ahead of Sebastian. I could see his car getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors so it was nice to be able to hang on for the third place.”

Vettel earned 12 points today, and he commented, “Our strategy seemed to work today. We knew it would be difficult and that it was crucial to get clean laps, but we didn’t in the first stint.”

The last few laps were very exciting, and the German said, “When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hair pin I thought ‘well, that’s a bit too far’, but obviously we had much more speed on the fresher tyres. It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something.”

Vettel wasn't fast enough today in China - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Vettel wasn’t fast enough today in China – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Also Button was happy with his fifth place, the best result of the season so far for McLaren. ” The race was always going to be tricky: we weren’t quick enough to adopt the same strategy as the others, so we had to run longer than the rest and make two pit stops, rather than three.” And he added, “We know we still have a lot of work to do to challenge at the front, but we can take a lot of positives away from this weekend.”

Vettel is currently leading the Drivers’ Championship with 52 points, he is followed by Raikkonen (49), Alonso (43), Hamilton (40) Felipe Massa (30), and Webber is sixth with 26 points. Next race is the Bahrain Grand Prix on the Bahrain International Circuit on April 21.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP Race Results

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Chinese GP: Hamilton takes his first pole position for Mercedes at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Hamilton takes his first pole position for Mercedes at ShanghaiLewis Hamilton secured his first pole position with Mercedes today during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, round three of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. The 2008 World Champion took pole as others like Red Bull, Lotus and McLaren were struggling to come to terms with the tyres on the Shanghai International Circuit.

Hamilton, who set his time on the soft Pirellis, was elated with his first pole with the Mercedes team. “Pole position is a great result for us today and to achieve it in my third race for the team is such a good feeling. I had to make sure the radio was off after my engineer told me I had pole because I was so excited,” Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton and Niki Lauda – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

About tomorrow’s race the Briton said, “It would be great to convert the position in the race tomorrow but it’s going to be a challenge and we’re realistic about how tough the race will be. The soft tyres don’t last for very long, and with a couple of quick guys starting on the mediums, it’ll be interesting to see how the race plays out.”

Kimi Raikkonen was this time fast during qualifying, he landed second spot on the grid and Fernando Alonso completed the top three for Ferrari.

Again, the focus was on preserving tyres for the race, therefore most teams stayed in the garage in Q1, aiming to qualify for Q2 in just one run. One of the early victims was Valtteri Bottas, who made a mistake in Turn 1 and did not make it into the next session. Also Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde did not make it into Q2.

Webber has to start from the back of the grid - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber has to start from the back of the grid – Photo: Red Bull Racing

In Q2, things went completely wrong for Mark Webber, he had a fuel pressure problem and had to park his car. Webber commented, “In Q2 we lost fuel pressure so I had to turn the car off and couldn’t get it back to the pits. I had to stop on the circuit, so qualifying was over before it started really.” Unfortunately for the Australian, the FIA stewards decided to exclude Webber from qualifying as Red Bull failed to provide enough fuel for the mandatory one litre fuel sample. The Australian will have to start the race from the back of the grid tomorrow.

A FIA statement read, “It was checked whether car number two had enough fuel on board in order to be driven back to the pits under its own power and in addition to this that a one litre fuel sample could be taken. The car had 150ml fuel on board which is not enough for the required one litre fuel sample and to drive the car back to the pits under its own power.”

Paul di Resta was quicker than his team colleague Adrian Sutil in Q2, but both failed to make it into the third and final qualifying session, as did Sergio Perez, Webber (14th before disqualification), Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Then the heat was one for the final run for pole position. Nico Hulkenberg in the second Sauber didn’t even bother to go out in Q3, he finished the day in 10th place, but will have an extra set of fresh Pirellis for tomorrow’s race.

Vettel also stayed in the garage and he was ultimately ranked ninth fastest, but said he was on a different strategy. “We’re obviously on a different strategy to the cars in front, whether that works or not we will see tomorrow, but I’m confident we did the right thing based on the facts we have,” said the triple World Champion. And he added, “We have the advantage of choosing the tyres for tomorrow, so we’ll see.”

Jenson Button - Photo: McLaren F1

Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren F1

Jenson Button was the sole McLaren driver to make it into the top ten, he will start from eighth place on the grid. He had the same excuse as Vettel, Button also set his time on the primes (medium rubber compound), and he said, “Our aim was to be the first prime-tyre runner on the grid — even if it meant qualifying 10th — and we did that. This was the best we could do with what we have.”

Daniel Ricciardo must have been the happiest man at the Toro Rosso team, after a great run in Q3 he ended the day in seventh place. Also fast, but not as fast as his team colleague, was Romain Grosjean, he finished in sixth place.

Next on the list are Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg, who took fifth and fourth position respectively, Rosberg reckoned he lost a few places when he made a small mistake. “I made a small mistake at the last corner on my lap in Q3 which cost maybe a tenth and a couple of places. But I’m in a good position for the race and we’ve worked a lot on the race performance this weekend so I hope we can gain some places tomorrow,” said the German.

Alonso was third for Ferrari and he was happy with the result, “The weekend has been very good for us. The car felt competitive from Friday. The car is responding well and I think we have a good set-up for the race and if everything goes well we should be able to fight for the podium with both cars which is good for the team.”

Second place for Kimi Raikkoen - Photo: Lotus F1

Second place for Kimi Raikkoen – Photo: Lotus F1

Lotus indeed improved their qualifying pace, which was the Achilles heel of the Lotus E21, the gap to pole was just three-tenths of a second today, but the Iceman was not completely satisfied. “I think the gap is quite big still and we don’t have that speed right now. We were second, it’s not too bad,” he said about his best qualifying result ever for Lotus.

And he added, “Of course you’d rather be in first place. But like I said we don’t have the speed; I think we’re missing the downforce in the middle sector a bit, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

And last, but not least, the opinion of Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn, and Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff. Brawn commented, “It’s a nice reward for all the hard work both here at the track and back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth. However, there are no points gained on a Saturday as they say and there is a tough job ahead of us tomorrow to convert our qualifying positions. It’s going to be a fascinating race from a strategy and tyre perspective so we will wait and see how it plays out.”

Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Also Wolff warned the race is tomorrow, and not today, and he remarked, “We will not get ahead of ourselves with this result as we expect an interesting race which will be decided by the different tyre strategies. A few competitors have chosen to qualify on prime tyres to run a longer first stint instead of the options which we and most of the runners used in Q3.”

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP Qualifying Results


Chinese GP: Ferrari dominates final free practice session in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Ferrari dominates final free practice session in ShanghaiFerrari dominated the final free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit this morning; Fernando Alonso topped the time sheets with a lap of 1m35.391, just 0.056s off the fastest time set this weekend by Felipe Massa on Friday afternoon.

Alonso was followed by his Brazilian team colleague who took second spot, while Lewis Hamilton showed what the Mercedes is capable of as he took third place. The 2008 World Champion was followed by both Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who took fourth and fifth place respectively, but Webber was a little over one second off the fastest time set by Alonso.

Again a welcome surprise from Force India, as returnee Adrian Sutil took sixth spot, just ahead Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus E21, the Finn set a time of 1m36.605, and thus was 1.158s off the pace.

Fourth place for Vettel in FP3 - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Fourth place for Vettel in FP3 – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Next were the two McLaren drivers, Jenson Button took eighth place, while his Mexican team colleague Sergio Perez was ninth, he was just 0.084s slower than 2009 World Champion Button. Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten, while his team colleague rookie Esteban Gutierrez was 17th after completing 20 laps on the Shanghai circuit.

Just outside the top ten were both Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo who took possession of 11th and 12th place. Further down the list was Williams, Pastor Maldonado was 13th, and Valtteri Bottas was 15th, almost two seconds off the pace set by Alonso.

Technical problems for Nico Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Technical problems for Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg’s morning was ruined by a hydraulic issue, the German had to be satisfied with 14th place. Also problems for Paul di Resta, his attempts were hampered by set-up issues, the Scott took 16th spot this morning.

Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus complained about lack of grip, and was 18th. The last four places were again for Marussia and Caterham, Jules Bianchi was 19th in the Marussia, again outperforming his British team colleague Max Chilton, who was 21st.

Charles Pic was 20th for Caterham, while Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was 22nd and last this morning.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP FP3 Results


Chinese GP: Massa takes Ferrari to first place after second practice session in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Massa takes Ferrari to first place after second practice session in ShanghaiFelipe Massa was fastest for Ferrari this afternoon during the second free practice session for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix. The Brazilian set a time of 1m35.340 on the soft Pirellis, 1.377s faster than the fastest time set in the morning by Nico Rosberg. Fernando Alonso in the second Ferrari was third, almost half-a-second slower than Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen claimed second place for Lotus this afternoon, while his team colleague Romain Grosjean was twelfth. Rosberg was again fast as he took fourth place, while Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes was seventh, 1.156s off Massa’s time.

Mark Webber was again the fastest Red Bull driver, he took fifth place while triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel took it a bit easier and landed 10th spot.

McLaren found some more speed today In Shanghai - Photo: McLaren F1

McLaren found some more speed today In Shanghai – Photo: McLaren F1

It seems McLaren have found the leak, like this morning Jenson Button was sixth, while Sergio Perez was 11th. Also Adrian Sutil claimed the same position as this morning, he was eighth again with a lap of 1m36.415s, and was followed by his Scottish team colleague Paul di Resta who took ninth place.

Further down the order we find the first Sauber, Esteban Gutierrez was 13th, this time the Mexican was faster than Nico Hulkenberg, who was 17th after completing 32 laps on the Shanghai circuit.

Both Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were in 14th and 15th place, this afternoon Valtteri Bottas was faster than Pastor Maldonado, the Finn was 16th, while the Venezuelan drivers was 18th.

Daniel Ricciardo - Photo: Scuderia Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo – Photo: Scuderia Toro Rosso

At the bottom of the list are the usual suspects, again Jules Bianchi was faster than Max Chilton, Bianchi was 19th, Chilton 22nd and last.

Giedo van der Garde was 20th, half-a-second faster than Charles Pic, who was back in the car after Ma Qing Hua had been in the car this morning.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP FP2 Results


Chinese GP: Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first practice session in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first practise session in ShanghaiNico Rosberg was fastest this morning after the first free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, the German lapped the Shanghai International Circuit in 1m36.717s, and was followed by his Mercedes team colleague Lewis Hamilton, who took second place almost half-a-second slower than Rosberg,

Both Mercedes drivers were followed by the two Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, who were third and fourth respectively, but they we considerably off the pace set by Rosberg, Webber was 0.941s, and Vettel 1.225s slower than Rosberg.

Fernando Alonso was the fastest Ferrari driver this morning and took fifth place, while Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari was seventh. Jenson Button took the honours for McLaren and scored sixth place, but Sergio Perez in the other McLaren was 16th after he ended up in the gravel trap at the pit lane entry, just like Hamilton did during the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix.

Second place for Hamilton this morning - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Second place for Hamilton this morning – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Adrian Sutil was once again faster than his Force India team colleague Paul di Resta, Sutil was eighth this morning, while di Resta was tenth.

Romain Grosjean took ninth place for Lotus, Kimi Raikkonen was 11th, but just over two seconds off the pace, and two seconds is a lot in Formula One. Jean-Eric Vergne was 12th for Scuderia Toro Rosso and beat his team colleague Daniel Ricciardo who was 15th after completing 20 laps.

Williams still has a lot of work to do on the FW35, Pastor Maldonado was 13th, while Valtteri Bottas was 17th. Also the new Sauber needs more speed, experienced driver Nico Hulkenberg was 14th, the German was faster than Esteban Gutierrez who was 18th after completing 22 laps.

Raikkonen has plenty of Chinese fans - Photo: Lotus F1

Raikkonen has plenty of Chinese fans – Photo: Lotus F1

Jules Bianchi took 19th spot this morning for Marussia, Max Chilton was 20th. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was 21st for Caterham, followed by Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua, who took over the steering wheel from regular Caterham driver Charles Pic.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Chinese GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Chinese GP FP1 Results


Chinese GP Preview: Teams aiming for major improvements at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP Preview: Teams aiming for major improvements at ShanghaiAfter a three-week break all Formula One teams have arrived at the Shanghai International Circuit for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix. It will be the tenth time the race is held on the 5.451 km long Shanghai circuit, which is similar to the Malaysian Sepang circuit, but the weather conditions are expected to be much cooler this weekend.

Pirelli has nominated the Medium (prime, white marked) and Soft (option, yellow marked) tyres for China: the first time that this combination makes an appearance this year. According to Pirelli, the flexibility of the new 2013 tyres means ‘that several strategies are open to the teams’.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery explained, “China has often produced some of the best races of the year, where strategy has been at the forefront of the action. With all our compounds having got softer this year the degradation is deliberately more extreme leading to increased performance, but history has shown that it never takes too long for the teams and drivers to get on top of the tyres.”

Webber not happy with Vettel's actions in Malaysia - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber not happy with Vettel’s actions in Malaysia – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Unfortunately, the fast degrading tyres are the reason why teams opt to save tyres during qualifying in order to have more fresh sets during the race. Drivers stay in the garage for most of the time, which of course does not contribute to the show on Saturday afternoon. Tyre degradation also played an important role in the hottest story of the season so far.

The team that made the headlines in the past three weeks was of course Red Bull, the rivalry between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel has been re-ignited after Vettel ignored team orders to let Webber win the race at Sepang. Red Bull was afraid both drivers could ruin their tyres and therefore the decision was made to let Webber finish the race ahead of Vettel. Better safe than sorry was the motto.

But according to Red Bull Advisor Helmut Marko, the feud is over. “They don’t have to be completely on the same page but it must be a solid working partnership,” he said. “Sebastian apologised in the press conference and I think that was the first correct step to make. There was a debrief afterwards with the relevant discussions about the race and then there was a handshake between the two drivers. For us now the issue is settled.”

Kimi Raikkonen won the first race of the season - Photo: Lotus F1

Kimi Raikkonen won the first race of the season – Photo: Lotus F1

A pleasant surprise at the start of the season, this time Lotus won the 2013 opener at Albert Park in Australia, but the second race in Malaysia was a bit of a let down for the Lotus fans, as Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen finished the race in sixth and seventh place respectively.

Nevertheless, Lotus’ Team Principal Eric Boullier was happy with the result of the Malaysian Grand Prix and said, “I think we can take some positives from Malaysia. We’ve made a step forward with the car in terms of single lap pace, but still the race pace looks strong as well.”

Lotus will have some significant updates ready for China and Boullier said, “For China, Romain will have the upgraded exhaust and bodywork package which Kimi ran in Malaysia, plus there will be a few additional parts arriving so it’s going to be quite interesting.”

According to Lotus’ Technical Director James Allison, the tyres will again be the deciding factor at the Shanghai circuit, “Some of the lower speed corners are also extended in their radius, even with tightening arcs. This provides quite a stern test for the tyres, as you have a significant excess of torque over grip making it very easy to wreck a set of rear tyres rather quickly.”

Fernando Alonso - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso – Photo: Ferrari

Ferrari is currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, in Australia Fernando Alonso was second, but at Sepang he hit the rear of Vettel’s Red Bull and when his damaged front wing got wedged under the car, he crashed and his race was over after just one lap.

Alonso has spent some time in the simulator during the break, but he’s worried about the very fast degrading tyres. “Shanghai is a very nice track with a variety of corner types and fast straights, so you definitely need a car that works well in the fast sections, but you also need it to have plenty of downforce to deal with the tighter turns. We can expect to see quite high tyre degradation, especially on the fronts,” the Spaniard said.

Also Felipe Massa is upbeat ahead of the race on Sunday. “I know we have only done two races, but I have a good feeling so far this season. The work we did with the F138 over the winter has taken us in the right direction and the car has much more potential,” the Brazilian said.

Lewis Hamilton on the podium - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton on the podium – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton moved from McLaren to Mercedes, and already scored his first podium place for the German team in Malaysia. Nico Rosberg scored his maiden win, and so far the only victory for Mercedes, during the Chinese Grand Prix in 2012, but it will be difficult to repeat that according to Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff.

“Like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us. We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tyre compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track this weekend. Then we will see where we stand relative to the competition,” the Austrian said.

Team Principal Ross Brawn is confident ahead of the race, but there is still a lot do, and he commented, “Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development. A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance.”

Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Force India is fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, and the return of Adrian Sutil was the best decision they’ve made this season, as he led the Australian Grand Prix for almost 30 laps. But in Malaysia everything went pear-shaped, and both Sutil and Paul di Resta had to retire as there were problems with the wheel nuts.

But team owner Vijay Mallya is adamant the wheel nut issues have been solved, “We’ve had three weeks to understand what went wrong and have worked hard fix the root cause of the problem.” Sutil is confident of a good performance this weekend and the German said, “The layout is not too different to Sepang, so it should suit us again and I hope we can be strong there.”

And he added, “Also, we know there are lots of areas where we can improve because we have learned a lot from the first couple of races. The other teams will not stand still so we need to keep pushing hard and keep up this momentum.”

Sauber had their ups and downs, in Australia Nico Hulkenberg couldn’t start the race due to problems with the fuel system, but he hopes to do better in China. “I have a better feeling now I have driven my first race in the C32, especially because we were able to collect a lot of information. In Malaysia we scored points and that is also my goal for China,” Hulkenberg said.

Sauber will also bring some new parts to China, and they will be tested during the free practice sessions. Tom McCullough, Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering said, “We analysed the data that we collected in Malaysia and found interesting directions for the development of the car, therefore we will bring several test parts to Shanghai. Having secured our first points of the season in Malaysia, we are eager to add to them as soon as possible.”

Jenson Button - Photo: McLaren F1

Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren F1

While Ferrari is now up to pace compared to the start of the 2012 season, it seems that McLaren now is the top team that has fallen behind, as they are only seventh in the Constructors’ Championship with just four points. Both drivers have struggled with the new Pirellis, and Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is certainly not happy with seventh place.

“Clearly, our performance in Australia and Malaysia fell below the high standards we’ve come to expect at McLaren,” said Whitmarsh. McLaren made good use of the break and are aiming to improve their performance this weekend, and Whitmarsh added, “We have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso managed to score one point in two races, courtesy to Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished tenth in Malaysia. Plenty of rivalry at Toro Rosso as well, Daniel Ricciardo promised to ‘trash’ his team colleague this season, but Frenchman Vergne has so far beaten the Australian driver, who is also aiming to replace Mark Webber at sister team Red Bull in 2014.

Two retirements for Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Two retirements for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Also a very difficult start of the season for Williams, last year they were very quick and even won the Spanish Grand Prix, this season Pastor Maldonado retired from both races, while Valtteri Bottas finished just outside the top ten.

Like other drivers, Bottas reckons managing the Pirelli tyres will be the key to success, and he remarked, “Getting the tyres to work will be the biggest challenge facing all of the teams, as the temperatures are often low and the smooth track surface is quite different to what we saw in the first two races.”

Surprisingly, Marussia has beaten Caterham during the first two races, and the Anglo-Russian outfit has even managed to produce a few car updates during the break. Team Principal John Booth explained, “The cars were freighted directly to China, so while we would not call the upgrades we have for this race comprehensive, they are still significant. We will be running some new suspension parts that we proved out in testing but delayed until we had some further race distance experience with the MR02. We also have some new front and rear brake ducts.”

Caterham has been struggling due to massive understeer. “On Friday and Saturday morning we’ll also be working on several performance areas that the team has been looking at since Malaysia, particularly around dialling out the understeer issues I had in Australia and Malaysia,” said Charles Pic.

Dutchman Giedo van der Garde is confident his team will solve the problems and said, “We had oversteer issues on entry into the corners in Malaysia and Australia and that definitely hit my race pace, particularly as it was impacting on tyre degradation levels, so we’ve done a bit of work on that with Pirelli in Milan and back at Leafield since Malaysia so we’ll see what we’ve achieved when we get to Shanghai.”

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix will start at 15:00 hrs local time and the race on Sunday starts at 14:00 hrs local time.


Chinese GP: Mercedes adamant development race will be critical this season


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Mercedes adamant development race will be critical this seasonMercedes won their first Formula One race at the Shanghai International Circuit last year, this year the German team hopes to close the gap on their rivals, and more important, the Silver Arrows team must keep developing the car in order to battle at the front.

Toto Wolff: Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games

Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff thinks it is difficult to repeat last year’s success at the Shanghai track. “One year on from Nico’s win, a lot of people will be asking whether this is something our team can repeat in 2013. But like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us. We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tyre compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track next weekend,” said the Austrian.

Mercedes has planned more new parts for China and Wolff said, “We have made a solid start to the season in the first two races with Nico and Lewis both performing at a very high and equal level. The development race will be critical this season so we have more new parts planned for China. Our aim has to be to improve on our good start to the season and continue scoring good points in both championships.”

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes Benz

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes Benz

Lewis Hamilton: We’ve had a better start than we expected

Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to race again after the three-week break. “My first two races with my new team have been a great experience and everyone has made me feel so welcome. We’ve had a better start than we expected and to have finished in fifth and third places so far is really positive,” Said the 2008 World Champion.

He’s confident his team can keep up the pace of development, “I know there is much more to come so we will keep working hard and pushing the development of the car. I’ll be at the factory this weekend and look forward to hearing about the work that’s gone on in the last couple of weeks and the upgrades that we will take to China.”

Rosbeg won the Chinese GP last year - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Rosberg won the Chinese GP last year – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg: I enjoy the Shanghai track a great deal

Of course Nico Rosberg has good memories of the Shanghai circuit, as he scored his maiden win during last year’s Chinese Grand Prix. “I travel to China this week with very good memories from winning my first Formula One race in Shanghai last year, and having led the race there for the past three years. I enjoy the Shanghai track a great deal and I have a positive feeling going there with the car that we have at the moment.”

And he added, “We’ve had a strong start to the season and I’m confident that we can keep pushing and hopefully score some good results in China and Bahrain.”

Ross Brawn: We’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close

Team Principal Ross Brawn also thinks that his team has made a good start this season, but there is still work to do. “Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development,” said Brawn

He’s also looking forward to test the new parts the team has developed for Shanghai, “A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance.”

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Chinese GP: Marussia to test new suspension parts in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Marussia to test new suspension parts in Shanghai - Photo: Marussia F1Marussia is also ready for round three of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. This weekend’s Grand Prix will be the tenth race on the Shanghai track, a real drivers track similar to Sepang.

John Booth: We will be running some new suspension parts

Marussia’s Team Principal John Booth is satisfied with the start of the season and said, “After such a positive start to the season, I think we are all keen to get back to the racing.”

But there won’t be many major updates available for the race in China and Booth commented, “The cars were freighted directly to China, so while we would not call the upgrades we have for this race comprehensive, they are still significant. We will be running some new suspension parts that we proved out in testing but delayed until we had some further race distance experience with the MR02. We also have some new front and rear brake ducts.”

And he added, “The bigger push will come for Europe, but for now it’s good to be bringing new incremental updates to the car to maintain our positive trajectory. The drivers have spent some time in the simulator during the break and generally they are feeling much better prepared for the next phase of the season.”

Max Chilton - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton – Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton: Shanghai a nice challenge with some interesting features

Briton Max Chilton enjoyed the three-week break, but can’t wait to race again. “The break since Malaysia has been really beneficial on the one hand because it has given us the chance to reflect on the first two races and what we need to do to keep on making progress. On the other hand, off the back of the first two races of my Formula One career, it has also felt a bit like an eternity and I can’t wait to head to China now and get back to racing!”

He has never raced on the circuit and Chilton has prepared himself on the simulator, “I only have my experience of watching the races there in the past and my recent simulator work to go by, but it looks like a nice challenge with some interesting features. Shanghai itself will also be a new experience. We have a few updates to the car; so far the developments we have brought have worked well and I’m sure we can keep moving in a positive direction.”

Jules Bianchi - Photo: Marussia F1

Jules Bianchi – Photo: Marussia F1

Jules Bianchi: It’s all about maintaining the momentum now

Frenchman Jules Bianchi has been the surprise of the season, he clearly outperformed his team colleague, and he too, can’t wait to get behind the wheel of his car again. “Things had started out so well that it was almost a shame to have to stop for a few weeks,” Bianchi said.

“I was able to reflect on what has been a bit of a whirlwind, but a very positive start to my first season of Formula One nonetheless. I am quite happy with the progress so far. It’s all about maintaining the momentum now, so it is good to know that we head into the next race with some new developments which should carry us forward again.”

Asked about his aims for this weekend he said, “The target for this race is to keep closing on the guys ahead and be challenging them consistently, lap for lap.”

Marussia is currently tenth in the Constructors’ Championship, while Bianchi and Chilton are 17th and 20th respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Chinese GP: Force India confident ahead of Shanghai race, wheel nut problem solved


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Force India confident ahead of Shanghai race, wheel nut problem solved - Photo: Sahara Force IndiaAhead of round three of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, Force India is adamant that they have solved the problems with the wheel nuts, which caused the retirement of both cars during the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vijay Mallya: The VJM06 is a solid contender

Despite the disaster in Malaysia, Team Principal Vijay Mallya is upbeat ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, “The first two races of 2013 have been an encouraging start to the season. The VJM06 is a solid contender with competitive race pace; we have an excellent pair of drivers and the right technical package in place. Most importantly, the whole team is working together well.”

Asked about the problems with the wheel nuts the Indian said, “We’ve had three weeks to understand what went wrong and have worked hard to fix the root cause of the problem.”

Wheel nut problems have been solved - Photo: Sahara Force India

Wheel nut problems have been solved – Photo: Sahara Force India

Mallya is confident they will do well the next two races and he commented, “The next two weekends, with races in China and Bahrain, will put us in a position to see where we really stand in comparison with our rivals. Everyone in the team is looking forward to this challenge and I am confident we will put the disappointment of Malaysia behind us and bring home some big points.”

Paul di Resta: We appear to be in a good position at the moment

Scotsman Paul di Resta is looking forward to the race in Shanghai and commented, “We were unlucky not to get any points in Malaysia, but we can take some positives from the performance we showed on the track. We looked to be one of the fastest cars during the early part of the race. It’s a good sign for the rest of the season.”

Di Resta aims to score points this weekend, but despite the encouraging pace of the VJM06, he thinks it is critical to keep developing the car and he remarked, “It is important not to get carried away and to keep doing our job at each race. We appear to be in a good position at the moment, but no one can say where we will be compared to our rivals after the next two races.”

Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil: We need to focus on the performance

Also Adrian Sutil retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix, and he said, “I was running in eighth position before my first stop, but that’s when things started to go wrong in the pits. It’s a shame we had the problem because the car felt very strong, but sometimes these things happen. Now we need to focus on the performance to try and repeat it in China.”

He too, believes the development of the car is the key to success, “We know there are lots of areas where we can improve because we have learned a lot from the first couple of races. The other teams will not stand still so we need to keep pushing hard and keep up this momentum.”

The German pins his hopes on the tyres and said, “We will have a new tyre combination in China — the soft and the medium — and we appear to be quite good at managing our tyres so we need to use that to our advantage.”

Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 10 points, while Sutil and di Resta are in ninth and tenth place of the Drivers’ Championship.

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Chinese GP: Williams expects more favourable conditions in Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Williams expects more favourable conditions in Shanghai - Photo: Williams F1Last year Williams made a rocket start during the first few races of the season — they won the Spanish Grand Prix, this year the Grove-based team has been confronted with many problems, and the new 2013 contender, the Williams FW35, seems to suffer from a chronic lack of speed.

Mike Coughlan: We have a better understanding of where we are

Technical Director Mike Coughlan is aware of the problems and said, “After a difficult two races we’ve been back at the factory going through the data to try to understand where we need to improve. We feel we have a better understanding of where we are and the whole team has been working hard to improve our competitiveness going into the next few races. Ultimately we are looking at a significant upgrade for the Spanish Grand Prix.”

But he’s expecting cooler weather, and that might help the British team, and Coughlan said, “The ambient conditions in China will be kinder although the weather can be quite changeable. The cooler temperatures we expect are not only more favourable for the car but also for both the team and driver. The circuit is also usually quite hard on tyres, so that could prove another challenge.”

Two retirements in two races for Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Two retirements in two races for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: This can be quite an unpredictable race

Driver Pastor Maldonado knows the circuit well, and reckons the race will be a real challenge for him, “This can be quite an unpredictable race and the weather conditions are a particular challenge. There is also a mix of different corners so you need to get the right balance between good straight line speed for the very long straight, whilst still having good grip in the lower speed corners.”

And he added, “Another challenge is the strategy as there are a few difficult decisions the engineers face when deciding what type of race to run here. We haven’t had the best start to the season and we need some time to improve our car to be solid in the points, but the whole team is working very hard so let’s wait and see how we can adapt the car for this race.”

Valtteri Bottas - Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas: Getting the tyres to work will be the biggest challenge

Valtteri Bottas knows the circuit from free practice last year, but has never completed a race in a Formula One car on the Shanghai track. “It’s a track that shares similar characteristics to the last Grand Prix in Malaysia. Whilst not as hot and humid, the weather can be variable so you need a car that works well in different conditions,” said Bottas.

The Finn thinks the tyres are the key to success, “Getting the tyres to work will be the biggest challenge facing all of the teams, as the temperatures are often low and the smooth track surface is quite different to what we saw in the first two races.”

Williams is currently ninth in the Constructors’ Championship, while Bottas is fifteenth, and Maldonado, as he retired from the first two races, is 22nd and last in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Chinese GP: Caterham hoping to make progress, working on understeer issues


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Caterham hoping to make progress, working on understeer issues - Photo: Caterham F1Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde finished the Malaysian Grand Prix in an encouraging 14th and 15th place, and both drivers are looking forward to the race in China, round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Charles Pic: We’ll be working on several performance areas

For Frenchman Charles Pic, it will be his second Formula One race at the Shanghai International Circuit, and he will work with his team to address several problems they encountered at the start of the season.

“Last year was my first race in China and I thought the track was pretty good,” Pic said. “The lap starts with a very long straight with a tight right hander at the end which is a natural place to overtake right at the start of the lap. One area we will focus on in the practice sessions is making sure the car’s very stable under braking so I can attack into each braking zone — you need that and very good traction out of the slower corners to push the cars ahead around the whole lap.”

Charles Pic - Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1

And he added, “On Friday and Saturday morning we’ll also be working on several performance areas that the team has been looking at since Malaysia, particularly around dialling out the understeer issues I had in Australia and Malaysia. We have a few set-up options to try to help with that, and some ideas we’re going to look at with Pirelli so I’m sure we can make good progress on that.”

Giedo van der Garde: Shanghai a mix of slow, medium and high-speed corners

Dutchman Giedo van der Garde is hoping for sunny weather, in order to do some proper testing on Friday. “Hopefully it’ll be better weather this year as FP1 last year started out wet and was a bit damp for the whole session so I wasn’t really able to push,” van der Garde said.

“It would be good if it was sunny as that would mean we can get the most number of laps done and one thing we are going to be focusing on in China is work on improving our setup options for qualifying, using the practice sessions to give us as many options as possible for the race but also for quali.”

Pit stop for Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Pit stop for Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

About the circuit he said, “It’s a mix of slow, medium and high-speed corners so finding the right balance to deal with the whole lap is going to be key to performance in both quali and in the race. We had oversteer issues on entry into the corners in Malaysia and Australia and that definitely hit my race pace, particularly as it was impacting on tyre degradation levels, so we’ve done a bit of work on that with Pirelli in Milan and back at Leafield since Malaysia so we’ll see what we’ve achieved when we get to Shanghai.”

Caterham is currently 11th and last in the Constructors’ Championship, and Pic and van der Garde are 18th and 19th respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Chinese GP: Red Bull says driver feud is over, looking forward to Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Red Bull says driver feud is over, looking forward to ShanghaiRed Bull Racing has been in the spotlight since the Malaysian Grand Prix, after star driver Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to let his team colleague Mark Webber win the race. Webber was furious and threatened to leave the team, Red Bull advisor ex-Formula One driver Helmut Marko, however, insists the row is over.

“They don’t have to be completely on the same page but it must be a solid working partnership,” Marko said. “Sebastian apologised in the press conference and I think that was the first correct step to make. There was a debrief afterwards with the relevant discussions about the race and then there was a handshake between the two drivers. For us now the issue is settled.”

Plenty of media attention for Vettel after the Malaysian GP - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Plenty of media attention for Vettel after the Malaysian GP – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel: Took his first win for Red Bull in 2009 in Shanghai

The Shanghai International circuit was the scene of Vettel’s first win for Red Bull, and he has fond memories of the Chinese track, “My first win with Red Bull Racing in 2009. We had a good qualifying, followed by an amazing race. There was a lot of rain, but we held it together and got our first team win and one-two.”

Asked what he likes about Shanghai he said, “Every time I go to Shanghai I like to explore a bit more, but I really like Pudong, near the river.” And the circuit, what is his favourite part? “The circuit has lots of corners, making it hard for the tyres and tricky for the drivers. I really like the middle sector. Turns 12 and 13 are difficult to get right, as they demand a lot of technique, especially Turn 13 which leads into a really long straight.”

Webber not a happy camper after Vettel took the win in Malaysia - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber not a happy camper after Vettel took the win in Malaysia – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber: Likes Shanghai’s soup dumplings

Asked about his best memories of the circuit Webber said, “Coming from the back of the grid to finish on the podium in third place in 2011.” But his favourite place in Shanghai is actually a restaurant, “I went to a really nice restaurant with some of the boys from the team, Din Tai Fung Shanghai. They do great soup dumplings, a Shanghai specialty!”

And his favourite part of the circuit? “The middle sector, Turns 5 and 6, it’s a nice and flowing section and it’s very important to get the technique right there.”

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Chinese GP: Lotus to keep pushing, Boullier expects stronger results at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Lotus to keep pushing, Boullier expects stronger results at Shanghai - Photo: Lotus F1After a fantastic start of the season, Kimi Raikkonen won the first race, the Australian Grand Prix, the second race in Malaysia was a bit of a disappointment for the team. But according to Team Principal Eric Boullier, Lotus will keep pushing to improve their performance.

Eric Boullier: Rain exposed one of our weaknesses

About the Malaysian Grand Prix Boullier commented, “As a team we faced a tough event which exposed one of our weaknesses; namely our performance when the conditions are wet. That said, when you take into account our qualifying positions and the difficult start for both drivers I think the points we took for sixth and seventh is a solid result.”

But despite the successes Boullier remains cautious about the rest of the season, “It’s still early days; as usual we’ll wait to see how the first four races go before we can predict anything and when we’re back to Europe we’ll have a better idea of where we are and what we can achieve.”

Asked about the third race of the season in Shanghai he said, “We’ve made a step forward with the car in terms of single lap pace, but still the race pace looks strong as well. For China, Romain will have the upgraded exhaust and bodywork package which Kimi ran in Malaysia, plus there will be a few additional parts arriving so it’s going to be quite interesting.”

Kimi Raikkonen - Photo: Lotus F1

Kimi Raikkonen – Photo: Lotus F1

Kimi Raikkonen: It’s always difficult to predict what will happen

The Iceman agrees with Boullier about Malaysia, the Lotus E21 doesn’t like the rain very much, “The start was not good and then I lost part of my front wing on the first lap. The car didn’t handle too well after that and with the wet conditions it was pretty tricky. The pace wasn’t too bad, but it could have been much better when you look at our times on Friday.”

Raikkonen likes the Shanghai International Circuit and remarked, “It’s always difficult to predict what will happen in the next race as we haven’t been there yet with this car, and every car reacts differently to each circuit. I won there in 2007 and that was a good feeling as it was the year I won the World Championship. I celebrated those wins pretty well at the time. It’s a proper race track and there are good opportunities for overtaking. Our car looks good so far, so let’s see what happens when we get out on track.”

Last year Lotus didn’t score any points in Shanghai, and also ran out of fresh rubber. But Raikkonen hopes to do better this year, “Hopefully we’ll be a little bit more lucky with the tyre performance this time and well prepared from a strategy point of view. We had the race pace in 2012, that’s true, but we tried to carry on with our tyres for too long. They dropped off, and that was it.”

Romain Grosjean - Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean – Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean: I don’t think I’ve shown my full potential yet

The first two races of the year were difficult for Romain Grosjean, and the Frenchman said, “It’s been a little frustrating as I don’t think I’ve shown my full potential yet. The first two races were quite difficult for me and I would really like a weekend where I can show what myself and the team can do this season. We’ve got great potential, I just need to unlock it. Hopefully we’ll find the key in China.”

Despite the difficulties, Grosjean remains optimistic, and aims to score points in China, “I would like to score strong points. I finished in tenth in Australia, then sixth in Malaysia so I’d be quite happy if I finish in second place in Shanghai. That or a win would make me very happy! Let’s see how the car is once we arrive on track and hope there won’t be rain again as we know our car does struggle a little in wet conditions.”

Lotus is currently second in the Constructors’ Championship, 26 points behind leader Red Bull. Raikkonen is second in the Drivers’ Championship, nine points shy of leader Sebastian Vettel, while Grosjean is eighth with nine points.

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Chinese GP: Sauber to test new parts at Shanghai


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Sauber to test new parts at Shanghai - Photo: Sauber MotorsportAfter a short break, Sauber is heading for China for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship: the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit. The Swiss outfit spent the weeks after the Malaysian Grand Prix analysing data, and have developed new parts for this weekend’s race.

Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: We will bring several test parts to Shanghai

Tom McCullough describes the Chinese track from a technical point of view, “The Shanghai circuit has a good mix of low, medium and high-speed corners. The track has several technical sections where corners lead straight into further corners requiring a good car balance and precise driving. The smooth track surface and typically low track temperatures have a significant impact on how the tyres perform — especially at the start of the race weekend whilst the track is cleaning up.”

Sauber will also bring some new parts to China, and they will be tested during the free practice sessions. “We analysed the data that we collected in Malaysia and found interesting directions for the development of the car, therefore we will bring several test parts to Shanghai. Having secured our first points of the season in Malaysia, we are eager to add to them as soon as possible,” McCullough said.

Nico Hulkenberg - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: Tyres and strategy will be very important

German Nico Hulkenberg admitted Shanghai is not really his favourite track and said, “The circuit in Shanghai is not particularly one of my favourite tracks, nevertheless it’s a demanding one, especially the first few corners and the corners before the back straight. Tyres and strategy will be very important during the weekend.”

As he wasn’t able to start the Australian Grand Prix due to issues with the fuel system, the Malaysian Grand Prix was his first race with the Sauber C32. “I have a better feeling now I have driven my first race in the C32, especially because we were able to collect a lot of information. In Malaysia we scored points and that is also my goal for China.”

Esteban Gutierrez and his engineer - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez and his engineer – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez: My goal is to improve

The Chinese track is new for Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, and he commented, “I don’t actually know the track yet, so it will be an interesting challenge again to learn the circuit and then to develop confidence throughout the practice sessions.”

And he added, “Learning a new track all depends on the approach you take. You can learn a lot through video footage, your engineer’s advice on the right gears in different parts of the track and, most important of all, the more confidence you have in your car the easier it is to learn a new one. My goal is to improve and I’m looking forward to that.”

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Chinese GP: McLaren hoping to make further progress after addressing car issues


By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: McLaren hoping to make further progress after addressing car issues - Photo: McLarenIt hasn’t been an easy start for McLaren this season, seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship with just four points scored during the first two races of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship is hardly something to be proud of, but McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is convinced his team will bounce back.

Martin Whitmarsh: Ability to respond has been exemplary

“The three-week break between rounds two and three has been a useful one, said Whitmarsh. “We have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance.”

He also hailed the team’s efforts to address the problems, “The team’s ability to respond has been exemplary; as I’ve already said, the behaviour of both Jenson and Checo has been superb. The engineers, designers and mechanics, too, have worked tirelessly and painstakingly to unlock the car’s potential, and we feel confident that we are starting to turn the page.”

McLaren has been working on car issues - Photo: McLaren

McLaren has been working on car issues – Photo: McLaren

Asked about his expectations ahead of the race in Shanghai Whitmarsh commented, “Formula One is an unpredictable beast. We’ve enjoyed some very competitive weekends in Shanghai in the past — with some equally unexpected results — and I feel confident and excited that we head to China this week with the hope of making further progress and eating into the advantage currently held by the leading pack.”

Jenson Button: We know where we’re losing performance

Jenson Button also admitted his performance has been far under par, but he’s also adamant McLaren will improve the performance of the MP4-28, “Taking home two points from the first two races obviously wasn’t what we had in mind at the beginning of the year, but I think everybody in the team has picked themselves up and really attacked the task of addressing our car’s issues. We know where we’re losing performance, so I think we’re actually all looking forward to seeing just what we can achieve in Shanghai.”

And the 2009 World Champion added, “The important thing for us as a team is to go into the weekend with clear focus, hone our strengths across the sessions and increase our understanding of the car. I definitely think there’s everything to play for with this championship, and I can’t wait to get back into the cockpit to start the fight again!”

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez - Photo: McLaren

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez – Photo: McLaren

Sergio Perez: I feel there’s a lot of positivity within the team

Mexican Sergio Perez was also impressed by the way his team addressed the problems, “I think there’s been a little time to breathe after the first two races of the season. That’s been important for us, as we’ve been able to get back to MTC [McLaren Technology Centre] and really throw all our efforts behind the modifications we need to make the car perform more consistently. For me, it’s been incredible to not only see the speed of the team’s reaction, but also the positive way that everyone has pulled together to make those changes. It’s been an incredible team effort.”

And he further commented, “We go into round three, and I feel there’s a lot of positivity within the team. We may not have been as far up the order as we’d have liked, but those points-finishes mean the team has now extended its unbroken scoring run to 60 races — that’s pretty incredible, and a nice record to be able to maintain. Like everyone within the team, I’m really looking forward to China — it’s a great track with a little bit of everything – and I think it’ll be a good test of the car”

As mentioned before, McLaren is currently seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, while Perez and Button, they both scored two points, are 12th and 13th in the Drivers’ Championship.

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