Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2016

2017 Chinese Grand Prix stats preview

2017 Chinese Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Will we see lap records broken and perhaps a few more overtaking moves in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix? Review the key statistics ahead of the race.

Race history

The Shanghai International Circuit will host the world championship for the 14th time this weekend. Following their victory in Melbourne, Ferrari head to China hoping to win this race for the first time since 2013. They are currently tied with Mercedes on four wins apiece at Shanghai, which is the only circuit to have held China’s F1 race.

Although the race has been held in April since 2009, it has its earliest slot on the calendar this year.

The form book

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2017
Four-times winner Hamilton climbed 15 places last year
Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in this race with four wins, twice as many as any other driver. Three other drivers in the field have won here before: Alonso (twice), Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen (once each).

The latter has now gone four years without a win at any track. Alonso is closing on the same mark, though Raikkonen’s chances of ending his win-less streak this year seem much better: the SF70H is already a race-winner, the MCL32 is not yet a points-scorer.

Alonso has seen the chequered flag in every Chinese Grand Prix so far. He only failed to complete the race distance on one occasion, when he was lapped in the McLaren MP4-30 two years ago. Unfortunately that is likely to happen again this year, as the car was over three seconds off the pace in Australia.

Shanghai is also the scene of Daniil Kvyat’s most recent visit to the podium 12 months ago. However that didn’t stop Red Bull dropping him just a few weeks later following a poor performance at his home race in Russia.

Last’s grid was bookended by Mercedes: Nico Rosberg at the front, Lewis Hamilton last after technical problems in qualifying. He made up 15 positions in the race to finish seventh, though this wasn’t his best charge through the field that year. He made up 18 places from start to finish in the Belgian Grand Prix.

All 22 cars were classified last year but two weeks ago in Australia just 13 of the 20 starters were still running at the end.

Lap times

Shanghai is unique in that it is the only track on the calendar where the fastest ever lap of the circuit was set during a race.

Ordinarily faster times are achieved in qualifying or practice sessions when cars are running lighter on fuel. However on his last lap of the inaugural 2004 race Michael Schumacher, already a lap down after two separate incidents and a puncture, reeled off a 1’32.238 which was 1.7 seconds faster than that weekend’s pole position time.

Although it was set on a rubbered-in track using a V10 engine and plenty of downforce, it’s incredible that Schumacher’s time has remained the outright benchmark for so long. But providing the weekend is dry we can expect F1’s quicker new cars to beat it by the end of qualifying this weekend. Expect it to remain as the benchmark lap record, however – beating the times set in the refuelling era remains a tall order today.

Overtaking

Source: Mercedes

Overtaking is a hot topic in Formula One right now. There wasn’t much of it in Melbourne but drivers suspect that may have been partly down to the track. China has seen much more passing in recent years, as this data from Mercedes shows.

“Some even argued that Shanghai produced a ‘fake race’ last year owing to the number of changes of position,” noted the world champions in their pre-event notes. “Cars simply needed to sit in the DRS window and then they came through on the long back straight.”

“While that number might be tough to match in more straightforward circumstances (last year’s race featured a chaotic first lap, an early Safety Car and Lewis’ charge from the back), the 28 overtakes from the 2015 edition should be a sensible target.”

Race ratings

Here’s how F1 Fanatic readers have rated the Chinese Grand Prix in recent years.

Join in Rate the Race when the chequered flag falls at the end of this year’s race. You will need a (free) F1 Fanatic account to participate:

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

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17 comments on “2017 Chinese Grand Prix stats preview”

  1. Interesting to see the gaps between the top three teams, please be some close racing and not another snorey..

  2. There were 181 overtakes last year. Wow, don’t remember so many.

    Since this is a stat section, mentioning it here. I am not sure if it was mentioned during the Australia stats. But Kevin Magnussen is now the only driver in the V6 era to sample every engine (2014 – Mercedes, 2015 – Honda for one race, 2016 – Renault, 2017 – Ferrari)

    1. Probably because so many of them weren’t at all memorable – thanks to DRS… as I’ve said multiple times, I’d rather see 5 great overtakes than 180 “passes”.

      Re: Magnussen – that’s a great stat! … and to think he was actually disappointed when he was dropped by McLaren!

      1. thank you for saying that @ben-n. We’re so caught up in > # overtakes = better racing that we’re missing the point. Just to bump it up a notch, you can have a great fight for a position and never have a single pass. Can anyone argue that Bahrain 2014 wasn’t one of the most exciting finishes in the V6 turbo era? I don’t think Rosberg ever made a pass stick, but it was still great racing.

        1. Every overtake this weekend will be DRS. Just like in Melbourne

          You’ll just get less DRS overtakes to remember

  3. Given the layout of the circuit, I see this as a better opportunity to gauge the engine power differences. Sandbags begone. Aero updates would have to focus on stability at lower downforce levels than in Melbourne and will likely also contribute to more exciting races. I can’t shake the feeling HAM is distracted and this could just be the opening BOT needs.

    1. ” I can’t shake the feeling HAM is distracted and this could just be the opening BOT needs”

      Based on what?

      1. Body language that suggests he thinks VET is a much greater challenge to his title chances than BOT. Obviously this is entirely subjective, but I’ll be watching for further signs this weekend.

        1. So if he thinks Vet is more of a challenge this year, how does that translate to him not being focused?

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Shanghai is also becoming quite an important reference point in terms of lap times, as it is one of the few tracks where the layout has stayed exactly the same throughout the years. Even the kerbs are pretty much the same as they were in 2004.

    1. @kaiie Indeed it’s been pretty much constant, albeit the inevitable resurfacing now and then.

  5. Mercedes will have their 150th start in china and if they get pole here it will be their 75th Pole, 56 of them coming in last 3 years (18 each in 14 and 15 and 20 in 16).

  6. Not directly related to this year’s edition of the Chinese GP, but related to the event itself: What were the reasons behind the move from the late-season flyaway phase to the early-season flyaway phase between 2008 and 2009? This race was first held in late September then four times in October (2004-2008) before moving to its current early-season slot in April in 2009. I’ve been wondering this for quite a while, but haven’t really found any answers to this subject.

    1. Good question.
      I believe most non-European new venues (barring few such as Bahrain) want a season-ending or near season ending race simply because the TV viewership could be higher due to the possibility of a title battle at that point.
      They switch to a different time in the year based on the tourist season of that place and/or other factors (for example, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain necessarily want to be on the opposite ends of the season as they believe they would cannibalise each other’s footfalls. May be that’s why China wanted to be as far as away from Japan and the short-lived Korea on the schedule). However, Malaysia has actually moved closer to Singapore on the calendar. They probably don’t think the cannibalising effect is much. Also, the sponsors get more events out of the drivers as the drivers are right next door.

      New European venues don’t really get a choice for their scheduling

  7. You look at 181 overtakes in the season and that sounds a lot, but when you break that down it becomes more clear where the grievance is.

    So about 20 overtakes per race, which is only an overtake every 2-3 laps. Doesn’t sound quite as exciting but still not exactly a snooze fest like people complain about right? An overtake last for seconds. Probably less than 10 seconds, and I’d wager closer to 5 seconds for most. You have to be talking less than 3 minutes of action for the entire race. 90-120 minutes of a race, 2-3 minutes actual action.

    Back when a pass was a spectacular thing to behold the payoff for that climax was worth it. But a pass because a driver opens a wing flap and sails by, or because the show biz tyres can’t stand up to staunch defending doesn’t give the same satisfaction to behold.

  8. Want better ratings, make McLaren win again, or Lewis.

  9. Lewis needs this win BADLY. It would calm many nerves and signal the start of a great battle.

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