The season’s third race presents the first nomination of the year with a gap between the selected compounds and in China there’s always a chance of the Cinturato wet weather tyres appearing as well.
The Shanghai circuit offers a roughly equal mix of straights and corners, with the corners themselves additionally offering a wide range of speeds and radii. It’s one of the races where strategy has often made a particular difference in the past.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW
The circuit isn’t used much during the year, which can make it quite ‘green’ and slippery. Turns 1 and 13 are the most demanding corners for tyres. Turn 1 is a decreasing radius corner leading straight into Turn 2, while the long Turn 13 is taken at high speed. It’s quite a fast and flowing circuit, with lateral forces (cornering) more predominant than longitudinal forces (acceleration and braking). There’s a very long straight that can have the effect of cooling the tyres, meaning that drivers need to pay attention to the braking area: this is also a key opportunity for overtaking. In cold weather, some graining has been observed in the past: especially in free practice. The surface is quite smooth, making it easier to find a consistent set up: the main challenge is to identify the best compromise between downforce and drag to find the right wing level.
MARIO ISOLA - HEAD OF CAR RACING
“The new wider range of 2018 P Zero compounds have allowed us to come up with some nominations this year where there is a gap in the tyres selected: in the case of China, alongside the medium, we jump from soft to ultrasoft, leaving out the supersoft. There’s quite a big gap from medium to the softer compounds, which are quite close together (with the exception of the hypersoft). So, by missing out the supersoft in China, we end up with three choices that are quite evenly spaced out, which in turn opens up several different possibilities for strategy. These strategy calculations have of course already begun, with teams selecting different quantities of the ultrasoft heading into the race, and we could also see some different approaches to qualifying as well. With China being an unpredictable race anyway, thanks to a number of different overtaking opportunities and notoriously variable weather, this tyre nomination introduces another parameter, which should hopefully contribute to an even better spectacle.”