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Ferrari goes conservative in tyre choice for China

NEWS STORY
02/04/2019

Ferrari has been somewhat conservative in its tyre choice for next weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, the 1000th race in the history of the Formula One World Championship.

The Italian team, which has yet to open its win tally this season, despite coming heartbreakingly close in Bahrain, takes just 7 sets of the softest C4 rubber to Shanghai, instead opting to load up with the yellow-banded mediums.

Mercedes, Max Verstappen, Renault, Haas, Racing Point, Alfa Romeo and Toro Rosso all take 8 sets of the softest rubber, while McLaren take 9 sets.

Pierre Gasly and the Williams pair, like Ferrari, take just 7 sets.

Charles Leclerc and George Russell lead the way in terms of the mediums, both taking 5 sets of the yellow-banded rubber, while the McLaren duo and Giovinazzi take just 2 sets.

Giovinazzi takes 3 sets of the hardest compound available, while Hamilton, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Grosjean and Russell each take just one.

With a roughly equal mix of straights and corners, the corners themselves additionally offering a wide range of speeds and radii, Shanghai is one of the races where strategy has often made a difference in the past.

Turns 1 and 13 are the most demanding corners for tyres, the former a decreasing radius corner leading straight into Turn 2, while the long Turn 13 is taken at high speed.

There's also the long straight that can have the effect of cooling the tyres, meaning that drivers need to pay attention to the braking area: usually a key opportunity for overtaking.

It's quite a fast, flowing circuit, with lateral forces (cornering) more predominant than longitudinal forces (acceleration and braking), and in cold weather graining has been observed, especially in free practice.

The track surface is quite smooth, which makes it easier to find a consistent set up. However, the main challenge is to identify the best compromise between downforce and drag to find the right wing level.

Last year's race was won by Daniel Ricciardo who ran a two-stop strategy, starting on ultrasofts before switching to mediums and then softs.

The next three across the line, Bottas, Raikkonen and Hamilton, were all on a one-stop strategy, starting on softs and then switching to mediums.

Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg, running the same strategy as Ricciardo, finished fifth and sixth.

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