Chinese Grand Prix – preview

Shanghai International Circuit
13-15 April 2018
Start time 14:10hrs local, 07:10hrs BST, 08:10hrs CET
Race laps 56
Tyre choice White Medium, yellow Soft, purple Ultrasoft

The essentials

Toughest corner Turn One, a 270-degree right-hander. The cars turn in at 300km/h/186mph and scrub off speed as the drivers increase the steering angle towards a late-apex. The drivers are also braking through here; as the aerodynamic load comes off the car they have to be careful not to lock the unloaded inside front wheel
Unique difficulty Balancing straight-line speed with braking stability and cornering grip. The 1.17km/0.727-mile back straight is the longest of the season and to be competitive in the race, a high top-speed is vital. But take off too much downforce and the car will slide in the corners and wear out its tyres
Biggest challenge Keeping the tyres in their correct temperature range will be particularly difficult this year. Pirelli is bringing an eclectic range of tyre compounds: the Ultrasoft will act as a qualifying tyre, but there will be no Supersoft rubber and the cars will be forced to jump to a much harder compound at the pit-stops

Engineer’s lowdown

Braking There are eight braking events around the lap, which is relatively high, including one of the most severe braking zones of the season, into Turn 14, where longitudinal forces peak at 7g. But the long straights allow the brakes to cool, and that makes it a relatively easy race in terms of brake wear
Power The cars use 1.7kg of fuel per lap, which is average for the season. But such is the increase in full throttle this year, due to the increased aerodynamic downforce produced by the cars, every race is marginal on fuel without a Safety Car period
Aero The long straights encourage the teams to take off downforce. That makes the two 270-degree corners very tough, because a precise front-end is crucial to a good lap-time

Fernando Alonso

“After a couple of positive results, I’m excited to go to China. Turn One in Shanghai is one of the best corners of the calendar and it’s a great track to race on for a driver.
“For us, consistency has to be the key. We’ve been able to pull everything together on a Sunday so far – a combination of both hard work and good fortune – but we haven’t given ourselves the best chances on Saturday, so it’s important we pull the whole package together.
“It won’t happen overnight, but we know where our issues lie and we know that we need to work hard to overcome them as soon as possible. In the meantime, we’ll be pushing hard in China, as always, and continue our fight to the front of the midfield pack.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

“Last year was my first experience of the Chinese Grand Prix, and, although the race was short-lived for both of us, I did enjoy racing there.
“As we saw last year, the weather in Shanghai can be unpredictable. If we can continue our good momentum in terms of putting together a good strategy and taking every opportunity where we can, rain could be a fun addition to our race weekend.
“But, we know it’s a tough circuit for our package and we need to maximise every session, every day, to give ourselves the best chance of a good result. We can’t be on the back foot on Sunday and it’s important we do as much learning as we can on Friday to enable us to fight for representative positions on the grid on Saturday afternoon.”

Eric Boullier

Racing Director

“We now head to Shanghai after a hard-fought couple of races for McLaren. Our results are solid but haven’t come easily, and we are by no means satisfied with our progress so far.
“We know there’s a lot of work to do and we’re working hard, day and night, to bring more performance to the car each time we hit the track. Our biggest deficit is our qualifying performance and addressing this is our priority.
“The Shanghai International Circuit is a very different challenge again to Melbourne and Bahrain. The long straight, high top speeds and the low and medium-speed corners mean it has a bit of everything, so our objective is to get on top of the circuit’s characteristics from Friday onwards.”