Round 4 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the 2014 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix, takes place this week in Shanghai, the final season-opening long haul round before the championship moves into Europe.
Over a decade on from its completion, the Shanghai International Circuit, which was conceived as the race circuit for the new millennium, continues to set the standard. The 5.451km track is anchored by a giant superstructure of a pit building, which is one of the most iconic features of the current Formula 1 venues. While the layout is similar to that of Sepang, the weather conditions couldn't be more different, with ambient and track temperatures tending to be low. Turn 1 is its standout characteristic - a very demanding 270 degree, right-handed corner combination calling for a lot of speed on entry but tightening up towards the end.
John Booth, Team Principal: "It has, quite literally, been a very long haul since the start of the 2014 season. It's hard to believe that almost ten weeks have passed since the cars first left the factory for the pre-season tests in Bahrain and they haven't returned since. It has been a similarly tough start for our team members, who had just a couple of days at home after last week's test before heading straight out again to China. All in all though, I think we've responded well to the challenge and, though the first few races have not entirely been plain sailing, we have enjoyed a few positives, including our result in Bahrain, which put us back into contention for 10th place in the Constructors' Championship. Although we are focusing our development efforts on the start of the European season, we hope that the progress we made at the recent test will provide us with the momentum to keep us moving forward this weekend in China, where we hope for more strong progress for Max and a little more luck for Jules."
Mattia Binotto, Scuderia Ferrari Engine & Electronics Deputy Director: "This first part of the season has been particularly difficult given the magnitude of the challenge posed by the introduction of the new power unit combined with working with a new partner. The learning curve in these first months has been very steep, but now, thanks also to two very useful days of tests carried out at the Sakhir circuit after the Grand Prix, we can say that we have established a good level of functionality and reliability of the overall system. This will improve our ability to exploit the potential available, in order to raise the performance level of the team."
Max Chilton: "There has literally been no let-up over the past couple of months and here we are again, heading off to the next race in China, just a few days after returning from Bahrain. I really enjoyed my first taste of the Shanghai International Circuit last year; it's a nice challenge and the weather often throws up a few opportunities, particularly in the race. I left Bahrain on a real high and I hope we can enjoy a similarly strong race this weekend and maintain what feels like a bit of an advantage over our nearest competitors at the moment."
Jules Bianchi: "I am hoping all my bad luck is behind me now and that China will mark a turning point for a better rest of the season. If we look at the positives, there have been good signs that we have been able to raise our performance level and have a few interesting battles in the races; I hope we can enjoy a few more in Shanghai this weekend. The test ran smoothly in Bahrain last week and I think this will help us with our preparations this week as we are finding out lots of new things about the package and getting strong all the time. I like the track and I am looking forward to the final long haul race before we get back to Europe."