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Formula 1: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – Chinese Grand Prix Preview

Shanghai International Circuit facts & stats
The Shanghai International Circuit was built on marshland to the north west of Shanghai in 2004. The scale of the project, with its two nine-storey pit buildings, 29,000-seat main grandstand and ornate paddock pavilions, was bigger than anything previously seen in Formula 1; it was what circuit designer Hermann Tilke described as “a race circuit for the new millennium”.

The 5.451km track has an eclectic mix of corners and one very long straight, at the end of which lies the best overtaking point on the lap. The circuit’s technical demands are similar to those of Sepang, scene of the last grand prix in Malaysia, but the cooler ambient and track temperatures expected in China are going to place greater emphasis on tyre wear.

Turns 1 and 13 are particularly demanding on man and machine. The cars enter Turn 1 at 185mph and scrub off more than 140mph while turning right through 180 degrees towards the blind apex. Turn 13 is another 180-degree right-hander that opens up towards the exit as the cars accelerate throughout. Both corners will be a stern test for Pirelli’s Soft and Medium compound tyres.

McLaren has a good record at the Chinese Grand Prix, having won the race three times (in 2008, ’10 and ’11) and taken a total of nine podiums since the inaugural race in 2004.

Race distance 56 laps (305.066km/189.568 miles)
Start time 15:00 (local)/07:00 (GMT)
Circuit length 5.451km/3.387 miles
2012 winner Nico Rosberg (Mercedes W03) 56 laps in 1hr 36m 26.929s (189.778km/h)
2012 pole Nico Rosberg (Mercedes W03) 1m 35.121s (206.301km/h)
Lap record Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m32.238s (212.749km/h)

McLaren at the Chinese Grand Prix
Wins 3 (2008, ’10, ’11)
Poles 2 (2007, ’08)
Fastest laps 3 (2005, ’08, ’10)

Car 5: Jenson Button

Age 33 (January 19 1980)

GPs 230

Wins 15

Poles 8

FLs 8

“In a funny way, the Chinese Grand Prix almost feels like something of a reboot of the start of my season. Taking home two points from the first two races obviously wasn’t what we had in mind at the beginning of the year, but I think everybody in the team has picked themselves up and really attacked the task of addressing our car’s issues. We know where we’re losing performance, so I think we’re actually all looking forward to seeing just what we can achieve in Shanghai.

“As far as the circuit goes, I’ve always enjoyed racing here: our car has always performed well around this circuit and we’ve always seemed to be able to find a good balance between the slow stuff, the high-speed changes of direction and the drag-loss needed for the long straight. It’s a pretty good place for racing, too, because that straight offers such a good opportunity for slipstreaming and overtaking. I think we can have a pretty good race next weekend, too.

“The important thing for us as a team is to go into the weekend with clear focus, hone our strengths across the sessions and increase our understanding of the car. I definitely think there’s everything to play for with this championship, and I can’t wait to get back into the cockpit to start the fight again.”

Car 6: Sergio Perez
Age 23 (January 26 1990)

GPs 39

Wins 0

Poles 0

FLs 2

“I think there’s been a little time to breathe after the first two races of the season. That’s been important for us, as we’ve been able to get back to MTC and really throw all our efforts behind the modifications we need to make the car perform more consistently. For me, it’s been incredible to not only see the speed of the team’s reaction, but also the positive way that everyone has pulled together to make those changes. It’s been an incredible team effort.

“So, we go into round three, and I feel there’s a lot of positivity within the team. We know that we somewhat under-performed in Australia and Malaysia, but, Jenson and I nonetheless managed to score some points. We may not have been as far up the order as we’d have liked, but those points-finishes mean the team has now extended its unbroken scoring run to 60 races – that’s pretty incredible, and a nice record to be able to maintain.

“Like everyone within the team, I’m really looking forward to China – it’s a great track with a little bit of everything – and I think it’ll be a good test of the car.”

Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Clearly, our performance in Australia and Malaysia fell below the high standards we’ve come to expect at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. However, the three-week break between rounds two and three has been a useful one; we have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance.

“The team’s ability to respond has been exemplary; as I’ve already said, the behaviour of both Jenson and Checo has been superb. They have shown themselves to be true, inspirational leaders, and they have held themselves high, as real ambassadors for our team. The engineers, designers and mechanics, too, have worked tirelessly and painstakingly to unlock the car’s potential, and we feel confident that we are starting to turn the page.

“Formula 1 is an unpredictable beast. We’ve enjoyed some very competitive weekends in Shanghai in the past – with some equally unexpected results – and I feel confident and excited that we head to China next week with the hope of making further progress and eating into the advantage currently held by the leading pack.”

A McLaren 50 classic moment
Chinese Grand Prix, 18 April 2010
Jenson Button takes his second victory in four races for McLaren. As was the case at the Australian Grand Prix a few weeks earlier, he proves the master of mixed weather conditions.

Light rain before the start mixes up tyre strategies at the Shanghai International Circuit. Most front-runners opt for intermediates, but Jenson – starting fifth – fits slicks and that decision lays the foundations for his success. Soon after the start, the rain eases and Jenson benefits when all but one of the cars in front of him peels into the pitlane for dry tyres.

Race leader Nico Rosberg makes a mistake on lap 19, allowing Jenson to take the lead that he never loses. However, it isn’t plain sailing for the British driver. The Safety Car is deployed mid-race while marshals remove debris from Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso, once again bunching up the front-runners.

At the re-start, Jenson gets the jump on the field and he leads the final phase of the grand prix convincingly. When more rain falls in the closing stages, all of the cars pit for intermediate tyres and Jenson crosses the line 1.5s ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton to give McLaren’s its first 1-2 finish since the 2007 Italian Grand Prix.

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Posted by on April 5, 2013. Filed under Breaking News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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