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

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

  1. David B said on 14th April 2010, 8:28

    I think RedBull will be at the front. And the others will need to chase.
    It would be really great to have Mercedes win and see the ranking even closer than now…!

  2. PeterG said on 14th April 2010, 8:44

    There are more interesting questions (considering the prediction game):
    Will Schumacher be able to pass Sutil in points?
    Until now 5 driver always ended all the races lower then qualifying: Kob, Pet, Hul, Sut and Web. Will they be able to break the trend?
    There are only four drivers this year to always improve their position during the race: Sen, But, Alg, Ham.
    Will they be able to keep this up?
    Rosberg is the only one to always finish in top 5.
    Renault wants to pass Mercedes and Force India wants to pass Renault. Will Force India be on top of both after this weekend? They must have two drivers in the points and one of the drivers on the podium this weekend to achieve that.

  3. Ididnt said on 14th April 2010, 8:55

    I reluctantly back Hamilton for the win this weekend.

    I think Schumacher will have another quiet race but will show a dramatic improvement in the Spanish GP.

    • Icthyes said on 14th April 2010, 14:27

      Could you imagine if it rained and he repeated his ’96 win? That would be a fitting comeback ;-)

  4. ajokay said on 14th April 2010, 9:03

    I like the fact that Renault are saying they will beat Mercedes this weekend, and in turn, Force india are saying they will beat Renault…

    That will make for an interesting game of leapfrog.

  5. RedBullRacer said on 14th April 2010, 9:35

    I’m rooting for Force India this weekend. I would love it if they could be up there just below the top teams, it’s been a joy to watch their progress over the past year.

  6. Ninad said on 14th April 2010, 9:36

    I think 4th team will win in China- Mercedes OR Renault!!

  7. Robert McKay said on 14th April 2010, 9:48

    I’d love to see Renault, Force India, or Mercedes get the win…but I’ll be might surprised if it does happen. Red Bull most likely, hounded by Mclaren and Ferrari, one would assume.

  8. Prisoner Monkeys said on 14th April 2010, 9:56

    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.

    You can’t have a calendar dominated by fast circuit. Nor can you have one populated exclusively by slower ones. Shangahi might be slow, but it has its place on the calendar.

  9. I don’t think a fourth team will win if it is a relatively normal race, there is a good chance of a fourth driver winning, but I think I will still pick Vettel for the pole and the win.

  10. Vettel to win followed by Alonso or Hamilton.

    Kubica just needs a really good result in qualifying and he should be able to hold his ground against the top guns, so it’s a longshot but still possible.

  11. sumedh said on 14th April 2010, 11:50

    I will be following Massa’s progress closely for Shanghai.

    The last time Felipe was leading the WDC, i.e. after French Grand Prix 2008, he produced the shocker of Britain 2008. I hope he doesn’t let the pressure get to him.

    If he wins, it will give him a handy lead at the top of the standings.

    Actually, any driver who wins at Shanghai should end up leading the WDC.

    • I don’t think it was pressure in British GP 2008. Ferrari was struggling in that race, even Raikkonen made some mistakes. Massa was under much more pressure in Brazil 2008 and still managed to get a flawless drive.

    • David A said on 14th April 2010, 16:21

      The exception to the winning at Shanghai rule was Schumacher in 2006.

      • Ned Flanders said on 14th April 2010, 16:24

        And Barrichello in the inaugral Chinese GP in 2004

      • Bleu said on 15th April 2010, 7:11

        Actually Schumacher was leading – he was tied with Alonso in points, but Schumacher had won seven races against Alonso’s six.

        Alonso then equalled win tally in Suzuka where Schumacher retired so they both ended up with seven wins after Massa won in Brazil.

    • akiko said on 14th April 2010, 17:14

      Damnit, if I had to erase just 1 GP from the story of F1 it would be the 2008 British GP for sure

  12. Scribe said on 14th April 2010, 11:56

    Well I think if Vettle makes the pole you’d have to say he was the likley winner. However it seems the McLaren is the only car conducive to overtaking, an then only on the straights, of which there are obviously enough. If the Mclaren was going faster than the Redbull Lewis Hamilton could take him, but it’s been said Redbull are hiding their potential. Depends by how much an how significant this McLaren upgrade is. The Redbulls strength is that it’s got downforce comming out of it ears, which if the McLaren can follow it, will make it easy prey on the straights.

    Ferrari ferrari, I have no idea, I suspect they might be second fastest, once again depends on the weekends upgrades but I don’t see Massa winning anything. Despite his points you get the feeling that he’s currently not quite as good as his car, whereas Alonso is of course driving the wheels of the thing. Alonso for a victory.

    Webber won’t outqualify Vettle in a normal situation, his only chance for a victory is a quali cock up, or to get ahead in the first corner, otherwise Redbull prioritises their current leader.

    I say Ham Alo or Vet for the victory. Most likley Vettle.

    Algesurari to see if it was more than just a good race.
    Kubica because the man is currently miracle working, an the Force India is currently the hardest car to overtake down the straights.

  13. Xanathos said on 14th April 2010, 12:13

    I’d like to see a 4th team winning, but ir will need exceptional circumstances (rain, safety car,…) and a few cock-ups by the top 3, something that has already happened in the last 2 races, so I don’t see happening again.
    Besides that, I don’t see Rosberg winning a race soon. He’s just continuing where he left at Williams with continuous point finishes. Still very good, but still not great. If he doesn’t improve on that, he’ll end up being like Nick Heidfeld. At the moment I think there is a much better chance that someone like Kubica or Sutil wins a race than Rosberg.

    • Ned Flanders said on 14th April 2010, 12:22

      I think that’s a bit harsh. He’s scored big points at the first three races this season, and he’s showing up his 7 time world champion team mate- what more could we ask of him?!

      I agree he’s probably not out of the very top drawer, but if/ when he gets a strong enough car I’d expect to pick up a few wins

    • Alonso beats schumacher in 05,06 and is then considered to be better then Schumacher.

      Lewis ties on points with Alonso in his first year of racing and is considered equal to Alonso.

      Rosberg easily beats Schumacher in first 3 races of the 2010 season and is still considered average.

      How come the f1 public think like this?

      • steph said on 14th April 2010, 13:17

        Because Schumacher isn’t at his best. Circumstances change which make it hard. I don’t like the idea of an F1 top trumps. It’s difficult to judge just how good a driver is at the best of times.

        • Schumacher has said on the BBC he has pritty much, hit his “limit” like he was before he retired.

        • Icthyes said on 14th April 2010, 16:24

          Schumacher also has to contend with a zeitgeist different to the one in which he competed for championships. As recently as 2008 it was always between two teams, and since Schumacher was #1 at Ferrari, “all” he had to do was beat the guys from the other team. Now he has to beat at least 7 other guys, from 3 different teams as well as his team-mate. It’s a tall order for anyone, but I bet if Red Bull had the worst car of the Big Four this year, and had yet to score a podium, no-one would be questioning Vettel, and not because he would still probably be doing a little better than Schumacher is now.

    • theRoswellite said on 14th April 2010, 16:54

      @ Xanathos:

      I think it might be a bit closer to the Silver Star reality to say Nico is getting the max the car has to give, as evidenced by the record of his teammate. The car isn’t going to beat, at least, 6 other cars on the grid…that’s a fair amount of “good fortune” required for a first place at the end of the day.

      Nico has never been in a winning car, and his Friday and Saturday speed has often confused that issue. Hold off on any final conclusions concerning his abilities to find that last 10/10’s…when he is finally running in that rarefied company we may see the ultimate result.

      And, from the intro: “Rosberg, on the other hand, has surprised by being consistently ahead of his team mate”

      I know of at least two people who haven’t been surprised.

  14. sato113 said on 14th April 2010, 12:14

    i’d like to see force india do well, but at the same time i don’t: they have a horrible name.

    • silencer said on 14th April 2010, 13:06

      may the “force” be with chandok :D

      by the way;
      If christian horner telling the truth that red bull never use active ride height control since bahrain; well I guess we can expect Red bull dominate the front row if their driver didn’t makes any silly mistakes.

      Force India can get top 5 in qualifying.. hopefully. I really wanna see Sauber real potential as what they shown during winter testing

      as for the race itself; it will be a battle between ferrari, mclaren and red bull… I don’t think mercedes can be as fast as those three teams in shanghai

  15. Can this GP be the one, where Vettel isnt dominant driver?
    Can Schumi finally got no problems in race?
    How strong will be Renaults?

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