Will Shanghai see fourth winner of 2010? (Chinese Grand Prix preview)

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Last year's constructors champions are yet to win in 2010
Last year's constructors champions are yet to win in 2010

Not since 1983 have four different teams won the first four races of an F1 season.

But that could happen at Shanghai this weekend if the likes of Nico Rosberg or Robert Kubica can keep Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull off the top step of the podium.

Consistent scoring in the first three races of 2010 has put Felipe Massa in the lead of the drivers’ championship.

But he faces stiff opposition if he’s to extend his advantage in Shanghai this weekend, and not just from team mate Fernando Alonso.

The Red Bulls have been the cars to beat so far in 2010 and McLaren believe their potential has been masked by poor qualifying performances.

One of the most compelling questions heading into the fourth race weekend of 2010 is whether the FIA’s clarification on how teams can (and, more importantly, cannot) adjust their ride heights will disrupt the status quo. If Red Bull’s string of consecutive pole positions comes to an end in Shanghai, you can be sure tongues will be wagging.

We’re also waiting to see if any of the teams can successfully emulate McLaren’s F-duct. Shanghai’s 1.175km back straight – one of the longest flat-out sections in Formula 1 – should be a very happy hunting ground for the MP4/25s.

At Sepang two weeks ago the team ran less wing on Friday, setting much faster times through the speed traps than their rivals, but increased their wing angles on Saturday, getting them through the twisty middle part of the lap more quickly. However Hamilton was still able to pick off car after car on the straights come race day.

The Shanghai circuit may sit in the shadow of some of the most impressive constructions ever built around a Grand Prix circuit but the track itself isn’t much to write home about. The twisty infield section keeps speeds down with the drivers only using full throttle 55% of the time – less than any circuit bar Monte-Carlo and Singapore.

But what it does have going for it is the local climate, which often produces rain. Indeed three of the last four Chinese Grands Prix have been run in damp or wet conditions, and a chance of light rain is forecast for Sunday.

Drivers to watch

Four driver to keep an eye on this weekend. Name your top picks in the comments.

Mark Webber – Team mate Vettel has been ahead of him in all three races so far this year. Webber needs to stop the rot.

Nico Rosberg – Rosberg, on the other hand, has surprised by being consistently ahead of his team mate, and earned a podium for it in Sepang. But Shanghai could be more a case of holding back the advancing Renaults and Force Indias.

Vitaly Petrov – In the unenviable position of trying to make a name for himself while his team mate commits giant-killing acts in the other car. Simply getting to the finish would help his cause.

Jaime Alguersuari – Put on a fine show with some excellent passes in Sepang and thoroughly deserved his first points. Can he produce more of the same in China?

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