Chinese Grand Prix Preview – AT&T Williams
Sam Michael, Technical Director: The corners in Shanghai are all heavily loaded on entry, particularly Turn 1. This normally requires a strong front end for the driver to place the car accurately. Traction is also important with there being four slow speed corner exits around the lap. Track temperatures are cooler again in Shanghai, much like they were during the Australian GP. We are still aiming for a top ten qualifying performance and to get some points on the board in Shanghai. We also have a new exhaust system for Rubens’ car that we will test and evaluate on Friday.
Rubens Barrichello: I like Shanghai a lot. I like the layout of the circuit and I have good memories here, having won the inaugural race in 2004. We have an upgrade to the car this weekend which I hope will improve our speed and overall performance. It hasn’t been a good start to the season for us as we are yet to finish a race where we belong, but I’m hoping the upgrade will help us to move forward.
Pastor Maldonado: China is a completely new track for me so I need to learn the layout as well as work very hard with the team to solve the problems we had in Malaysia. I know there is a very short time between races, but I think we have the potential to improve and to become more competitive. It’s going to be a bit cooler than in Malaysia but it is a very technical circuit so difficult to get a good overall set-up. One key feature is the first corner as it’s one of the longest corners of the whole season. I have had a day in our simulator in Grove to begin learning the circuit and now I’m really looking forward to getting there.
From Cosworth’s perspective: The Shanghai International Circuit is one of the less severe tracks for the engine, but it does offer two notable straights that both place a premium on outright engine power. Although the time spent at full throttle is significant, the rest of the circuit is not as taxing on the engine, when viewed solely in terms of power output.
Turns 2, 3 and 4 are very slow, which places an importance on low speed pick-up. With increased rear-tyre degradation, the emphasis on the engine to provide a smooth, consistent torque delivery has increased, with corners such as these probably the most demanding in this respect.
Last year, ambient conditions were such that raw engine power output was the highest of the season. A high ambient pressure of 1026 mbar, and a rather chilly air temperature of 12°C at the start of P1, meant that the conditions in 2010 worked in the engine manufacturers’ favour.
From Pirelli’s perspective: China should theoretically give us less degradation than Malaysia but it is hard to make an exact prediction. The track surface is less aggressive and temperatures should be lower. There is a reasonably high chance of rain, which might finally give the Pirelli wet and intermediate tyres their debut.