We’re in the People’s Republic of China
for the 2016 Formula 1 Pirelli Chinese Grand Prix, 15-17 April
13 April 2016
Shanghai International Circuit
The world’s most populous country plays host to Round 3 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship this weekend – the 2016 Formula 1 Pirelli Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. It’s another new track for Pascal Wehrlein but familiar asphalt for Rio Haryanto. Will the high-speed straights of this 5.451km circuit allow the MRT05 to reveal even more of its obvious potential?
Pascal, a thrilling race for you in Bahrain. How was it in the cockpit?
“From start to finish it was a really positive race for me; so much better than Melbourne. We qualified well, which helped, but to be mixing it with some of the bigger boys – beating them even – was really exciting. We’ve only just begun to extract some of the potential from the car so it was a good sign that there’s even more to come.”
Was there a standout moment?
“A few actually. Overtaking the Force Indias, finishing ahead of a Sauber, ending the race in 13th. Our car was also on TV a lot!”
Shanghai is another new circuit for you. Does that ever phase you?
“Never. It’s great fun getting to grips with a new circuit and once you’ve done a few laps, it’s not such a big issue, as long as the weather is on your side so you can build momentum. I walked the track last year with Mercedes and obviously I’ve prepared on the simulator, so I just want to get stuck into FP1 now and see how our package performs here.”
What are you expecting from the Manor Racing “rocket” here this weekend?
“Ha. It was funny to hear about those comments from Kev during the race. It was true though; the car was really quick on the straights and there are a couple of good ones here at Shanghai. What we know from Bahrain though is that there’s some more work to do to get the best from the car throughout the lap. There is still a lot we can do to continue improving the set-up and here we need a good compromise from straights to turns. It’s quite a challenging track so I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Rio. Good progress it seems?
“Yes, it’s great to have a race distance under my belt and be able to start building some consistency. It feels like every area of my game has improved with each new test and race, particularly my pace relative to my team-mate and the cars around us.”
You’re no stranger to the Shanghai International Circuit, are you?
“No, it’s a track I know really well from my Asian Formula Renault Challenge and Formula BMW Pacific days. It’s fun and challenging to drive so it will be nice to come back here and see how it feels in a Formula 1 car!”
Can we expect another good step forward from you this weekend?
“I hope so! There was a lot to take away and think about after Bahrain and I’m sure we’ll see more from the car and myself in China. Hopefully we will have made some further improvements with the set-up and I can feel a little more confident with the car.”
How do you like being in China?
“Anywhere that has Asian food is okay with me. Plus, I head back to Indonesia after every race, so what is a long haul for the team is actually a short haul for me. In the absence of an Indonesian Grand Prix – yet! – the Asian races are home turf for me, so it’s nice that there are so many of them.”
Dave, what are the big challenges for the team in China?
“This is quite a demanding track, due to the heavy braking after the long straights and also tyre management. We’ve suffered a bit with tyre wear in the past two races and it’s an area we’re spending a lot of time thinking about. If we can get on top of it a little more we’ll be much better placed all round. Power-wise, it should suit us.”
With a couple of races in hand now, how are things looking for the team?
“I think what’s most encouraging for us is how much potential for improvement there is. Bahrain showed just how far we’d come in the space of only one race and the signs are really encouraging. Both drivers are doing a fantastic job and we’re starting to work really well together as a team unit. We’re in the mix now, so the challenge is to keep building on that because nothing stands still for very long in Formula 1 – especially the competition.”