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