Williams Martini Racing: Chinese Grand Prix Preview
Aerodynamic performance is tested at the Chinese Grand Prix thanks to the circuit’s 1km back straight and its combination of sweeping turns.
The back straight is a great place for overtaking, but not the only opportunity on the track. The layout’s demanding corners test the Pirelli tire whilst fans cheer on their heroes in the 24,000 capacity grandstand. An addition to the calendar in 2004, the first sequence of corners on the track have been described as one of the hardest in Formula One as fast entry speeds are quickly discarded under heavy breaking due to a tightening track for almost 270° before quickly changing direction. The Chinese Grand Prix is host to the continuing growing fan base in Asia.
For Shanghai, Pirelli have made available the supersoft (for use in Q3), soft and medium compound tires for dry-weather running. The intermediate and wet tires are also available. Pirelli have allocated three sets of tires to each driver, but each driver can now choose their remaining ten sets from the available compounds. In China, Williams has chosen to allocate each driver with different sets of tires. Valtteri will be racing with two sets of medium tires, four sets of soft tires, and seven sets of supersoft tires. Felipe will be racing with one set of medium tires, five sets of soft tires, and seven sets of supersoft tires.
The Shanghai International Circuit has quite long straights with average corner speeds on the low side. However, Turns 7, 8 and 13 do exercise the high-speed characteristics of the car. The long duration of the corners puts a lot of energy through the tires, therefore tire wear is generally the limiting factor for strategy choice. Whilst in 2015 we generally saw two-stop strategies, experience so far in 2016 shows that teams are pushing to more aggressive strategies due to the freedom of tire choice. The championship is extremely close, therefore we must keep pushing to remain competitive.
I think Shanghai is a nice track and it’s always fantastic to go back to China. I have a lot of fans there, and I always enjoy going to see them. We get people waiting outside the hotel all day, so it’s really amazing to be with them. I’m really looking forward to that. The fans always have a lot of gifts for me and my family, which is amazing. I’ve had good races there, including last year when I finished fifth. I look forward to another good race, and maybe even finishing on the podium.
China is a good track to drive. It has a massive long straight, which boosts overtaking. It has some high-speed corners which I very much like, and our car is not bad in those kind of conditions either. The weather can normally play a part in the China race weekend. It’s still the beginning of the year, and we are still looking to see improvements in our performance all the time. I’m looking forward to going to China and meeting all the fans. We have great support over there, and I thank our Chinese fans for that.