Shanghai International: Circuit guide
A top Formula One team reveals the key components of set-up for the third round of the 2009 World Championship in China.
The Shanghai International Circuit is one of the most impressive facilities on the Grand Prix calendar. Like most of the circuits designed by Hermann Tilke, it features a wide variety of corners, both fast and slow, as well as a long straight followed by a tight hairpin which provides an ideal overtaking opportunity.
Technically the circuit is a challenge for the drivers and engineers, not least the never-ending first corner which almost takes the cars through a full circle.
As with many modern circuits, Shanghai includes a mixture of high-speed corners and long straights which means the level of aerodynamic downforce has to be judged very carefully to protect position on the straights, without compromising grip in the corners.
Turns seven and eight make up two of the high-speed corners and lead into the tricky double left-hander of turns 9 and 10.
In mechanical terms, it will be important to find the correct compromise that gives the driver confidence in the car's handling over the full race distance. Shanghai features a lot of braking from high speed, some fast corners and plenty of acceleration phases.
Combined with a number of changes of direction at both high and low-speed, it means we generally run a stiffer, more reactive set-up at the front of the car - and then make the springing softer at the rear, for optimum traction and braking stability.
In particular, we concentrate on making the car stable under heavy braking and on partial throttle openings, as the drivers often have to turn and brake/accelerate simultaneously, for example in turns one and two or turn eight.
In general terms, Shanghai is a tough circuit for the tires. Not only are the front tires heavily loaded by corners such as turn one (left front), seven (right front) and eight (left front), but the numerous slow corners mean the rear tires are worked hard under acceleration. Turn one in particular is a very challenging corner and demanding on the tires because it tightens up as it progresses.
Turn 13 also deserves a special mention where the front left tire is heavily loaded through this 270° corner, all the while accelerating and putting high lateral and longitudinal loads through the rear tires.
In terms of compounds, Bridgestone will bring the medium and super-soft tires to this event as was the case for the opening race of the season in Melbourne.
Shanghai is not a particularly severe test for the engine with only 55% of the lap spent at full throttle. However, with a long back straight, good peak power is important as the approach to turn 14 offers the best overtaking opportunity of the lap. This will be a good opportunity to see the potential of the KERS-equipped cars. R