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Chinese GP: Track notes, DRS, tyres, stats and more

NEWS STORY
11/04/2019

Other than routine maintenance, no changes of significance have been made at the Shanghai International Circuit since last year.

In terms of DRS, there are two, and they are the same as in 2017 and 2018, with the detection point of the first zone at Turn 12 and its activation point 752m before Turn 14.

The second zone's detection point is 35m before Turn 16, with activation occurring 98m after Turn 16.

The hard tyre choice in China is the C2, the medium the C3 and the soft C4: right in the middle of Pirelli's range of five compounds.

These three compounds are well suited to the varying demands of the circuit, which is well known for producing some interesting races where tyre strategy is key. The wide track is renowned for its long straights and corners: the straights can cool down the front tyres in particularly, causing a risk of front locking.

Weather is always a big question mark: cool temperatures are common, which increases the possibility of graining - especially in free practice.

There was a wide variety of different strategies in 2018, when Daniel Ricciardo won for Red Bull with two stops, though the race was affected by a safety car.

The Australian started on ultrasofts before switching to mediums and then softs, though 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.

The track has a medium abrasive surface and is quite demanding on tyres, with the front-left tyre working hardest. Lateral forces (cornering) are quite balanced with longitudinal forces (acceleration and braking), Turns 1 and 13 being the most demanding corners.

All the drivers from the top three teams have made different tyre selection from their teammates in China, underlying the wide range of possible strategies.

In terms of engines, the two long straights and bursts between corners bring the total percentage of wide open throttle time to over 52% of the lap.

Shanghai is unusual as there is a very long straight, but a relatively low percentage of the lap is spent at full throttle. This dichotomy is quite unusual as most circuits are one or the other: either a 'power track' such as Monza or Montreal, or 'driveability track' such as Hungary or Monaco.

Shanghai is one of the most efficient circuits and close to the maximum amount of energy will be stored in the battery per lap. This will allow drivers to optimize the amount of energy transferred directly from the H to the K or to the battery. Race fuel saving is low, Shanghai being one of the easiest tracks of the year in this respect.

The circuit is situated in an industrial zone next to several factories, some of which produce concrete, and this leads to a high concentration of dust particles in the air. Air filters and the turbo will be checked after each practice session to prevent blockages and, therefore, a relative loss of power.

Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver at the Chinese Grand Prix, winning five times. The Briton took his first two victories, in 2008 and 2011, with McLaren, and has won for Mercedes in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Nico Rosberg (2012, 2016) and Fernando Alonso (2005, 2013) are the only other multiple winners. Aside from Hamilton, the other winners in the present field are Sebastian Vettel (2009) and Daniel Ricciardo (2018).

Mercedes is the most successful team at the Chinese Grand Prix with five victories (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017). It is followed by Ferrari with four wins (2004, 2006, 2007, 2013), McLaren with three (2008, 2010, 2011), Red Bull with two (2009, 2018) and Renault with one (2005).

Red Bull's 2009 victory with Sebastian Vettel was the team's first, following its first pole position a day earlier. Mercedes' victory with Rosberg in 2012 was its first of the modern era, coming 57 years after its previous win with Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. 2012 was also the first of 23 victories for Rosberg, and came from his first pole position.

Despite Shanghai being a relatively easy circuit on which to overtake, the driver on pole position has gone on to win the race in nine of the 15
events to date (60 per cent), including all five of Mercedes' victories.

The furthest back from which a winner has started is sixth, that grid position shared by Michael Schumacher in 2006 and Daniel Ricciardo last year. Drivers have twice secured podium finishes from starting positions outside the top 10. Mark Webber from P18 in 2011 and Max Verstappen from P16 in 2017. Both finished third for Red Bull.

The first five Chinese Grands Prix were held at or towards the end of the season. While the drivers' world championship was never settled in China, the Constructors' Championship was won by Renault at the circuit in 2005.

That 2005 race marked the final appearance of the Minardi team. The Italian squad lies 10th on the all-time list of entries with 346, having first raced in 1985. Having been purchased by Red Bull, it started 2006 as Scuderia Toro Rosso.

On only eight occasions in the history of the Formula One World Championship, has every starter been classified at the finish. The 2016 and 2018 Chinese Grands Prix make up a quarter of the list.

This, of course, is the official 1000th Formula One World Championship race. The first was the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which took place on Saturday, May 13th, 1950.

Giuseppe 'Nino' Farina won the race, followed over the line by Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell, making it a clean sweep for Alfa Romeo. Alfa is the only constructor from that race taking place in this year's grand prix - then, as now, they raced on Pirelli tyres.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Shanghai, here.

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