2016 Chinese Grand Prix Preview


Shanghai International Circuit

Total number of race laps: 56

Complete race distance: 305.066 kilometers (189.559 miles)

Pit lane speed limit: 80 kph (50 mph)

This 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn Shanghai International Circuit has hosted Formula One since 2004, with last year's Chinese Grand Prix serving as the venue's 12th grand prix.

Michael Schumacher holds the race lap record at Shanghai (1:32.238), set in 2004 with Ferrari.

Rubens Barrichello holds the qualifying lap record at Shanghai (1:34.012), set in 2004 with Ferrari.

The Shanghai International Circuit is one of the many new Formula One circuits designed by Hermann Tilke, which features a trademark cue of his – a long backstraight followed by a hairpin corner. The 1.4-kilometer (.869 of a mile) backstraight is the longest in Formula One. It is the equivalent of 11 soccer fields laid end to end, or the same length of three-and-a-half aircraft carriers lined up bow to stern. Current-generation Formula One cars surpass 300 kph (187 mph) on this straight, which is located between turns 13 and 14. Another distinctive aspect of the track is its "snail corners", which comprise turns 1-4 and turns 11-13. The high-speed straight combined with these sharp corners pose a conundrum for teams, as they must balance the amount of downforce needed to negotiate these vastly different aspects of the track.

The month of April in Shanghai is characterized by rapidly rising daily high temperatures. During the course of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, lows will range from 13-14 degrees Celsius (55-57 degrees Fahrenheit) to 20-21 degrees Celsius (68-70 degrees Fahrenheit). The median cloud cover is 88 percent (mostly cloudy), and the average probability of rainfall on any given day is 54 percent. Relative humidity ranges from 51 percent (mildly humid) to 91 percent (very humid), with a dew point varying from 4 degrees Celsius/39 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) to 16 degrees Celsius/60 degrees Fahrenheit (comfortable). The dew point is rarely below -3 degrees Celsius/26 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) or above 20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit (muggy). Typical wind speeds vary from 2 kph/1 mph to 23 kph/14 mph (light air to moderate breeze), rarely exceeding 31 kph/19 mph (fresh breeze).

DYK? The ground on which the Shanghai International Circuit was built was originally swampland. But with a team of 3,000 engineers working around the clock, it took just 18 months to create the world-class facility.


  • Pirelli is bringing three tire compounds to China:
    • P Zero White medium – less grip, less wear (used for long-race stints)
    • P Zero Yellow soft – more grip, medium wear (used for shorter-race stints and for initial portion of qualifying)
    • P Zero Red supersoft – highest amount of grip, highest amount of wear (used for qualifying and select race situations)
  • Two of the three available compounds must be used during the race. Teams are able to decide when they want to run which compound, adding an element of strategy to the race. (If the race takes place in the wet, the Cinturato Blue full wet tire and the Cinturato Green intermediate tire will be made available.)
  • A driver can use all three sets of Pirelli tires in a race. For example, if they used the P Zero Red supersoft to advance from Q2 to Q3, they would start the race on those tires and attempt to make some lightning-quick laps to gain a margin over their counterparts before pitting for the P Zero White medium. Then depending on circumstances that unfold during the race, another pit stop could be made for the P Zero Yellow soft, allowing the driver to better attack during the race's closing laps.
  • Pirelli provides each driver 13 sets of dry tires for the race weekend. Of those 13 sets, drivers and their teams can choose the specifications of 10 of those sets from the three compounds Pirelli selected. The remaining three sets are defined by Pirelli – two mandatory tire specifications for the race (one set of P Zero Yellow softs and one set of P Zero White mediums) and one mandatory specification for Q3 (one set of P Zero Red supersofts). Haas F1 Team's drivers have selected the following amounts:
    • Grosjean: one set of P Zero White mediums, five sets of P Zero Yellow softs and seven sets of P Zero Red supersofts
    • Gutiérrez: two sets of P Zero White mediums, four sets of P Zero Yellow softs and seven sets of P Zero Red supersofts


  • Mercedes livery for Chinese GP
    Mercedes livery for Chinese GP

    Lewis: "I'm in the best place I've ever been"

  • Nico: "I head into this weekend on a massive high"
  • Toto: "Remaining energized is now more important than ever"
  • Paddy: "We could see some interesting strategy calls"
  • Featured This Week: Race Starts
  • What's New in China: "Enjoy the Future Now" with Qualcomm

Lewis Hamilton
It's not been a smooth start to the season for me, so to be in the Championship position I'm in right now is actually pretty positive. If you can have two bad races and still come away with two podiums, that bodes pretty well. I've come back from worse, that's for sure! People keep asking me if I'm worried – if there's a downward trend emerging. But I'm feeling the complete opposite. There are no real flaws in our procedure and how we're working, so I know it's going to come good. On a personal level too, I'm in the best place I've ever been psychologically. There's very little, if anything at all, that can penetrate that. There's a long, long way to go, so I'll just keep working as hard as I have been. Now we go to China for the next battle. It's a track that's been good to me over the years, with five poles and four wins, so hopefully this race can be the turning point.

Nico Rosberg
It's great to start the season in such a positive way. But I'm just taking things step by step, race by race and targeting a lot more wins to come. It's important to enjoy times like these. I feel very privileged to drive the best car on the grid for the third year in a row and I intend to make the most of it. I'm going to China now knowing I can fight for the win, which is a great feeling to have. It's especially good in this instance too, as Shanghai is a track with good memories for me. I took my first pole and win there back in 2012, so I head into this weekend on a massive high. I'm looking forward to the next battle. We haven't seen the real Ferrari yet, so it could be a very exciting season ahead.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
After two races, we find ourselves in a strong position. Our car has proven itself to be competitive in a range of conditions once again – but also reliable even at this early stage, which is a tremendous achievement. But there is a long way to go and we have by no means been flawless in every area so far. With Ferrari increasingly breathing down our necks, as we saw in Bahrain, there is zero room for error. Remaining energized is now more important than ever – and we all have plenty to keep us on our toes in that respect. With just two races down and nineteen to go, I wouldn't say there is momentum on one side or the other. But what is clear – and very exciting for the team and the sport – is that we have two drivers high in confidence who will provide us with plenty of entertainment over the coming months.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
The Shanghai circuit places an entirely different duty on tires relative to Melbourne and Bahrain. However, we have the same three compounds available, so it will be interesting to see how the competitive order plays out. It's the first time we'll see the SuperSoft compound used at this track, thanks to the new regulations, and that will likely create a more extreme example of what we saw in Bahrain, where the best qualifying tire is unlikely to be a great race tire. Every team is bound to want to qualify on the SuperSoft – but if it grains in the race, we could see cars stopping in the first five laps. There will be plenty of analysis to do on Friday and we could see some interesting calls on qualifying and race strategy. What makes this all the more difficult for the teams is the unpredictability of the conditions. It can be quite warm in Shanghai – but it can also be as cool as Belgium. That variability can make life tricky in terms of both setup and strategy work, so it's always a challenging weekend. We like going to Shanghai, however. It's an interesting city and traditionally one of our stronger circuits, with four poles and three wins from the last four races. We look forward to another good battle between our drivers and with Ferrari once again.

Featured This Week: Race Starts

Starts have been a big talking point after the first couple of races. What is the main challenge for teams when it comes to making a clean getaway?
Ever since standing starts were implemented in Formula One, they have been extremely variable. The big challenge for teams is not simply to have the best starts on the grid – but to reduce that variability as much as possible.

How does the team measure a race start? And who has fared best thus far in 2016?
At Mercedes, we measure a race start in terms of distance covered in the first four seconds. Most teams will use a similar metric. According to that metric, on average, the Silver Arrows had the best starts on the grid in 2015. The problem is that, despite a strong average, variability meant that several of those starts were poor and resulted in a loss of position. Of the two races so far in 2016, Nico had the sixth best start on the grid in Melbourne – and the best in Bahrain. Conversely, of the five drivers who got a better launch than Nico in Melbourne, four were the worst starters in Bahrain – the exception being Vettel, who didn't take the start at all. So, taking this sample of two races, you couldn't have a better illustration of that variability. The best start in Melbourne was actually Pascal Wehrlein – a rookie on his Grand Prix debut, driving for the second least-experienced team on the grid!

What is the most challenging aspect of a race start inside the cockpit?
One of the main challenges for the drivers comes in the mid-phase of the launch, when they're controlling the torque before reaching the power-limited phase. The team can help to a limited extent with the clutch, which controls the initial phase of the getaway. But once they drop the clutch, in the mid-phase, the driver is trying to balance on a pinnacle of perfect tire slip. Drop one way, and they've got wheel spin. Drop the other, and they're bogging down. With all the noise and activity of the other cars around them at this point, it's very tricky to resolve the difference.

Rules governing clutch configurations have recently been amended. How big an impact has this had?
Variability has been deliberately increased by restrictions introduced during 2015 and extended for 2016. These restrictions have forced race starts to be more fully controlled by the driver himself, making them as close to fully 'manual' as possible. To be more specific, the team cannot instructor coach the driver via radio communication – and the driver must control the clutch manually with only one lever. Performance now depends more than ever on driver skill – but not entirely. It is still up to the team to provide powerful and consistent equipment. This has added an extra dimension to the task at hand for all parties concerned, so it should come as no surprise to see even more variation across the grid this season.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]So have the changes to the regulations achieved their objective?
These regulations have been introduced to make races more unpredictable. If race starts are more variable, then more drivers will find themselves out of position relative to their grid position and more interesting races will result. This is what happened in Melbourne and Bahrain, so the conclusion can reasonably be made that the regulations have been successful thus far. If "mixed-up grids" are the objective, then this is a much fairer way to achieve it, since the result is ultimately still achieved on the merit of team and driver. A more complete conclusion can be formed after half a season with a settled set of regulations.

Can the teams take measures to counter the variability of race starts?
Whatever the regulations might be, variability is simply part of the nature of race starts. It's something that, despite decades of intensive research, development and practice, nobody has perfected. As a sport, Formula One has achieved a lot of very difficult and impressive things over the years, so if the entire technical competence of the paddock has failed to crack it, it must be pretty difficult!

So, it's a case of accepting the inevitable and focusing on other things, then?
Teams will never give up the fight when it comes to a technical challenge. Everyone is constantly looking to improve – and there will be lessons learned from the first two races under these new rules that will have kicked off that process already. There doesn't seem to be a magic solution on the horizon that will simply eliminate variability. But the real question is whether that's necessarily a bad thing. On the basis of the first lap entertainment in Melbourne and Bahrain, one could argue it makes for a better spectacle…

What's New in China: "Enjoy the Future Now" with Qualcomm

Throughout the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix weekend, the front wing end plates of both Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid Formula One cars will carry special branding to celebrate a shared passion for innovation between China and Official Team Partner Qualcomm.

The Chinese characters translate directly as "Enjoy the Future Now" – illustrating the ambition of both China and Qualcomm to bring the future forward faster as essential accelerators of progress, unlocking what's next for the entire mobile tech industry.

Find out more at qualcomm.cn/futurenow

Vital Statistics

2016 Chinese Grand Prix Timetable


Local Time (CST)

Brackley (BST)

New York (EDT)

Practice 1

10:00 – 11:30

03:00 – 04:30

22:00 – 23:30 (Thur)

Practice 2

14:00 – 15:30

07:00 – 08:30

02:00 – 03:30 (Fri)

Practice 3

12:00 – 13:00

05:00 – 09:00

00:00 – 01:00 (Sat)


15:00 – 16:00

08:00 – 09:00

03:00 – 4:00 (Sat)


14:00 – 16:00

07:00 – 09:00

02:00 – 4:00 (Sun)

Weather.com Forecast (Accurate as of Monday 11 April)








14 – 26°C

Partly Cloudy


14mph SSE



16 – 20°C

AM Clouds,
PM Sun


25mph SE



14 – 25°C

Light Rain


21mph SW



13 – 22°C

Mostly Sunny


16mph N



Force India
Force India

Sahara Force India looks forward to round three of the 2016 season in China.

Q&A with Vijay Mallya

Team Principal, Vijay Mallya, reflects on the opening couple of races ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Vijay, the team was out of luck in Bahrain, but there were some positives…

"Bahrain was a missed opportunity. Two front wing changes in the space of two laps put us on the back foot and prevented us from playing a part in the outcome of the race. It's disappointing because we know the car has the speed to be right up there fighting for points. So that's the positive we must focus on as we prepare for the upcoming races."

What can we expect this weekend in China?

"It feels as though we've yet to unleash our true potential this season. Both the races so far have been heavily compromised, either by our own mistakes or outside circumstances, so I'd like to see what we can achieve with a clean, trouble-free race to the flag. When things go to plan, we know we can compete well inside the top ten and I expect everyone in the team to be pushing hard to reverse our recent fortunes."

Did you enjoy watching the close midfield battle in Bahrain?

"The battle in the middle of the pack is too close to call this season and it means that there's even more pressure on teams and drivers to deliver, especially in qualifying. It's going to be very exciting for the fans and that is what we want to see in Formula One.

Nico on China

Nico Hulkenberg aims to realize the potential of the VJM09 this weekend.

Nico: "When I think of the race in Shanghai I always remember the impressive towers on the main straight and the cool paddock buildings by the lake. It's definitely a circuit with a special character and its own personality. The city of Shanghai is also a cool place to visit and I enjoy trying real Chinese food and exploring such a different culture. I'm always fascinated by big cities and feeling the buzz of the place.

"The track is also famous for the never-ending turn one. It's a tricky corner because it's easy to go in too hot, especially during qualifying, and it's a corner that eats your tires. In fact, looking after the tires is always hard work because turn 13 is another long right-hander that takes even more life out of them. The rest of the lap has a bit of everything from low-speed to high-speed, which makes it challenging to find a balanced set-up.

"My expectations for this weekend are high and, after the disappointment of Bahrain, I hope we can have a clean race in China. There's good pace in the car and reaching Q3 in Bahrain was proof of that. We had to work very hard with the car set-up to find the sweet spot, but we learned a lot of things that will carry over into this weekend.

Sergio on China

Sergio Perez hopes for a change of fortunes in Shanghai.

Sergio: "I've always enjoyed going to China. Shanghai is an interesting city to explore and you always get huge support from the fans. They always wait outside our hotel every day just to say hello and give us special gifts.

"They did a great job with the track design in Shanghai because there is a good mix of corners. Turn one is what everybody talks about and it's my favorite part of the lap. It's such an unusual corner and you have to judge your speed perfectly because you can lose a lot of time if you don't attack it enough. Then, on the back straight, we always see lots of drag races and it's a question of who will brake latest going into the hairpin.

"After two disappointing races I want to get my season started properly in Shanghai. The results in Australia and Bahrain could have been so much better, but things just didn't work out for me. That's part of racing and I know things will turn around soon. It was a similar situation as the start of last year before my luck started to change. The atmosphere in the team is still upbeat and everybody is pushing to get more performance from the car. We made a good step in Bahrain with the upgrades so we are definitely moving in the right direction."



3rd Round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 15th to 17th April 2016

After coming back from the Middle East with a short stop-over at its headquarter in Hinwil, the Sauber F1 Team travels to China for the upcoming Grand Prix weekend. The third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship is taking place from 15th to 17th April on the Shanghai International Circuit.

Marcus Ericsson

Car number 9

"The Chinese Grand Prix brings back good memories from last season. We had a strong race weekend there, finishing with both cars in the points. I put in a good performance with some nice battles on track. In the end I saw the checkered flag in P10. For this year's race weekend on the Shanghai International Circuit, I feel confident that we can build up our performance from Bahrain and make another step forward there."

Felipe Nasr

Car number 12

"My first Formula One race weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit was quite positive last year. We improved the car during the whole weekend and, after a top ten qualifying, I finished the race in eighth. Looking back to the Bahrain Grand Prix about a week ago, I hope that the team was able to sort out the issues I had with the C35. The objective is clearly to be more competitive. I am looking forward to the Chinese Grand Prix as the track characteristics should suit our car."

Track facts:
The Shanghai International Circuit has the longest straight on the whole race calendar, where a good top speed is important. The track has an interesting mix of low, medium and high-speed corners. In addition to that, it has several technical sections where unique corners, such as T1 and T13, lead straight into further corners requiring a good car balance and precise driving. Good traction is a must.


Shanghai International Circuit / 5.451 km

Race distance

56 Laps / 305.066 km


Qualifying 15:00 hrs local time (9:00 hrs CET), Race 14:00 hrs local time (8:00 hrs CET)

Tire choices:


Marcus Ericsson

Felipe Nasr










Driver information:

Marcus Ericsson

Felipe Nasr


02.09.1990 / Kumla (SE)

21.08.1992 / Brasilia (BR)

Marital status



Height / Weight

1,80 m / 70 kg

1,75 m / 68 kg

First GP

Australia 2014

Australia 2015

GP started



Best race result

8th Australia (2015)

5th Australia (2015)

Best qualifying

10th Malaysia (2015),
10th China (2015),
10th Italy (2015)

9th China (2015),
9th Austria (2015)

Points 2016



Points in total



The Sauber F1 Team currently holds 10th place in the Constructors' Championship.

Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierez
Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez


Haas F1 Team enters the third round of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship an impressive fifth in the constructor standings thanks to back-to-back point-scoring finishes by Romain Grosjean. Not since Shadow Racing – another American team – debuted in 1973 with consecutive point-scoring finishes by Californian George Follmer has an organization earned two top-six finishes in its first two races.

Now Haas F1 Team – the first American F1 team in 30 years – has the opportunity to create even more history when it arrives in Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix. Sunday's 56-lap race around the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn Shanghai International Circuit will mark Haas F1 Team's third career start, and beyond Grosjean earning another point-paying result, the ultimate goal is getting his teammate, Esteban Gutiérrez, to the finish and into the points as well.

While Grosjean earned a sixth-place finish in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and then backed it up with a fifth-place effort in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Gutiérrez has seen bad luck derail his chances to contend in similar fashion. Despite a pace in line with that of his teammate, Gutiérrez was collected in an accident not of his making in Australia after 16 laps, and in Bahrain, a mechanical issue sidelined him after only nine laps.

A glimpse of Haas F1 Team's collective strength was seen in qualifying at Bahrain, with both drivers advancing out of Q1 and solidly into Q2, with Grosjean qualifying ninth and Gutiérrez qualifying 13th. It was the first time in Haas F1 Team's history its drivers advanced to Q2 – another milestone achievement in the team's nascent season.

Achievement in China means solving the conundrum presented by Shanghai's "snail corners" and its massive backstraight. The snail corners both look like a snail and force drivers to take a snail's pace around them – at least by Formula One standards. These corners, which comprise turns 1-4 and turns 11-13, are juxtaposed with the 1.4-kilometer (.869 of a mile) backstraight – the longest in Formula One. There, drivers eclipse 200 mph before heavy braking into the turn-14 hairpin. Securing the downforce needed to maximize these vastly divergent elements, along with the other in-between aspects of the track, is akin to balancing on a razor blade.

With the 13th Chinese Grand Prix serving as Round No. 3 on this year's Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team eyes a third-straight point-paying finish in its third race of existence. For Grosjean, the opportunity to score more points comes on his 30th birthday. And for Gutiérrez, a point-paying finish would come in his third career Chinese Grand Prix.

The numerology bodes well for Haas F1 Team, as three is an important number in Chinese culture. Pronounced "sÄ�n", it is similar to the character of birth. Of course, immediately after birth comes growth, and since debuting in Australia, Haas F1 Team's stature has grown at a considerable rate – a rate it plans to continue in China.

Guenther Steiner – Team Principal

Two grand prix for Haas F1 Team, two very strong races for Haas F1 Team. Did you think this kind of success would be possible this soon?

"No, not realistically. We always said we would like to score points and make a difference. We wanted to be midfield, but to finish sixth and fifth in our first two races was, for sure, not in the plan. But, we take it and we are very happy about it."

During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?

"It's always grand prix-specific. You go out and test on Friday and Saturday and you learn tire degradation, mainly, and grip levels. I think in Australia we used the data we gained in Barcelona because we didn't run a lot in Australia due to the weather. Every race is different and every track is different. Each tire reacts differently with the track and we always try to learn as much as possible during the race weekend. But again, we have to choose the tires before the race weekend. Our team has made good decisions and picked the right tires, for the right time, for each race weekend."

With the qualifying format used in Australia and Bahrain, how advantageous was it to make it to Q2 but not Q3?

"In Australia, we were far from making Q2 because we had some issues in Q1. In Bahrain, we were very happy not to be in Q3 because it allowed us to start the race on a brand new set of tires. With brand new tires, you see a lot more grip on the start. Both drivers took that to their advantage and had very good starts."

For the first time in Haas F1 Team's young history, both drivers advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team?

"Advancing to Q2 really helped our confidence. We wanted to show that in Australia and couldn't, but we did in Bahrain and this is what we will try to achieve every race weekend."

Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?

"It is very difficult, but we will continue to develop. We'll continue to test in the wind tunnel and bring new developments to our car, and that will lead to gains in our aerodynamic program throughout the season. I think we'll bring new developments like the rest of the midfield packs are doing, or aiming to do."

Bahrain saw the team's first live pit stops. How were they, and how does it feel to finally have performed live pit stops?

"I would say two out of the three pit stops were good. We still can improve, but we were in the ballpark. In the third one we had an issue with one of the wheel nuts. I give credit to the crew member because when he went to put the wheel on, he realized something was wrong and took it off again. Had he not fixed it, the car probably would have been stopped after the first two corners from the wheel being loose. So we had an issue, but we solved it and maybe lost two seconds and it didn't make a difference anyway. The mechanic and his actions stopped us from making an even bigger mistake."

While the team is performing well and Grosjean has the results to prove it, bad luck has hampered Gutiérrez's efforts and he's had back-to-back retirements. How do you balance the success of one driver while working to help the other driver overcome the adversity he's faced?

"With Esteban's incident in Australia, you look at it with the mindset of, ‘What can you do when a guy runs into you?' In Bahrain, we had an issue with his brake disc and are still investigating why it actually broke. We are working with the brake manufacturer to have a better understanding of the issue and avoid it in the future. I spoke with Esteban after the race and he said, ‘Guenther, these things happen. There's nothing we can do.' He understands why he's had to retire from each race and now he's more determined to get to the end and earn points."

Explain the level of sophistication with today's Formula One car. Why can't a problem be fixed in the garage during the race in the same manner a problem with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car can be fixed during the race?

"If something breaks in a Formula One car, they are so highly sophisticated that it's quite a process to determine all that's wrong and then, normally, there's not enough time to fix it. Plus, your mechanics are involved in all the pit stops, so when something goes wrong, you can't pull three or four guys to fix an issue because, by regulation, they're needed for the pit stop with the other car that's still running on the racetrack. To try to fix the car just to come in last, 20 laps down, doesn't make any sense."

Two races in and you've already reached some preseason goals, namely scoring points. What do you want to achieve in China?

"One of our goals is to take two cars to the finish, because we haven't done that one yet. You always want to get better, and the next thing for us to do is take two cars to the finish and, hopefully, both score points."

Romain Grosjean

Two grand prix for Haas F1 Team, two very strong races for you. Did you think this kind of success would be possible this soon?

"Well, initially no. I didn't think it would be possible. Nobody thought like that. I thought, points early in the season, yes, but top-six finishes, I wasn't thinking about that, but I am enjoying the moment."

In each grand prix, the start is crucial, and this was especially evident in Bahrain. Both you and your teammate earned a lot of positions at the start. How much of that is strategy and how much of it is seizing opportunity?

"It's both. We started on new tires, which gives you an advantage compared to the car in front of you. Of course, the first corner, the first lap, there are always opportunities. It can be a bit messy, as well. You just have to judge. I was good into turn one, then I was a bit blocked by (Lewis) Hamilton, who had been hit, but it's just finding the right limit."

At one point during the race in Bahrain, you had the fastest lap of the race. Is that a glimpse of what the VF-16 is capable of this season?

"Yes, I saw that on TV. It's great. I think the best proof of what the VF-16 is capable of doing is the qualifying and race in Bahrain. Ninth in qualifying, saving tires, and then finishing sixth in the race."

The strategy you utilized in Bahrain meant you had to be very aggressive throughout the race. How do you balance aggressiveness with taking care of your racecar?

"It's a tricky one. It's the right balance between having the appropriate strategy to make up a lot of position, but as well as looking after your car, the brakes, tires and fuel. It's mainly down to experience, and finding the right balance between everything."

During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?

"I think there's still huge potential that we haven't unlocked in the car, which is great. It's certainly a lot of fun for all the guys and myself. We're looking forward to doing more. Having aggressive strategies gives you some good opportunities. Again, in China, we have some aggressive tire options, so hopefully they will work as well as they did in Bahrain.

You had much more running time at Bahrain in the lead up to the race compared to Australia, where rain hampered practice. How beneficial was the consistent running time you had in Bahrain on Friday and Saturday to your race on Sunday?

"It was more important for us than for others because we had so little testing, and then very few laps early in the weekend in Australia. Being able to do two full days going into the race was very important for both cars.

For the first time in Haas F1 Team's young history, both you and your teammate advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team, but also for you?

"It was the first objective of the weekend – to improve our qualifying performance from Melbourne. It was not too hard, but a good thing to achieve. To improve in the race was more of a challenge, and we did it. There's lots to learn, but we're going in a good direction."

Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?

"Now it's going to be our challenge to keep up with the big boys. We've had a good start and have a good baseline. Of course, as a driver, I want more performance. I think there are a few more parts coming in China and then a few more after that. I'm very much looking forward to trying the first updates to see if they're working as they should. We're not a hundred percent with the car yet, so there are still a few things we can do without adding the updates."

Explain a lap around the Shanghai International Circuit.

"It's a fun track. The first corner is probably the best known one. It's a very long, right-hand turn corner. This circuit is very hard on the front tires. There's also the very long backstraight with big braking at the end. It'll be a good test for us to see, on a very different track layout, if we're as good as we were in Bahrain."

Grosjean Chinese GP History

Esteban Gutierrez

You had much more running time at Bahrain in the lead up to the race compared to Australia, where rain hampered practice. How beneficial was the consistent running time you had in Bahrain on Friday and Saturday?

"It has been a great benefit because we had the opportunity to explore and learn more from the car setup-wise. From Barcelona and Australia, we didn't really have time or the chance to experiment a lot. Running consistently in practice in Bahrain helped us to develop the car and develop the setup of the car, so it will be very helpful for the next grand prix."

For the first time in Haas F1 Team's young history, both you and your teammate advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team, but also for you?

"For the team it's a huge boost of moral, because we can show our true speed in qualifying and also in the race, which is the best combination to have. We still have a lot of work to do in order to extract the maximum from our performance, but we are on the way to develop that. It's a huge boost to my motivation because learning that I can be comfortable driving the car on the limit means a lot. I can really enjoy and push the limits quite a lot."

Your race in Bahrain was cut short due to a mechanical problem. While disappointing, how do you shake off that disappointment and prepare for the next opportunity in China?

"I have the feeling that good times are just around the corner for us to get underway with scoring points consistently. We've had a good pace and a good car at two different tracks. I'm just going to keep preparing, keep pushing and keep fighting the same way because soon, the results will be there."

During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?

"The different compounds are directly affecting the car's balance, and our tire selection seems to be quite good. I feel very confident in our strategy, and I'm involved in the planning and execution. We are working in a very good way, and we're able to react quickly to any circumstances that might come during the race."

Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?

"It is true that we have surprised many people. It's a situation that probably we didn't expect – to be that good. We still need to manage our expectations because our car at the moment has reacted pretty well in Melbourne and in Bahrain, but we need to learn how it will react now in China. I think China will give us a good indication of how the season will be, and also the fact that all the other teams are pushing really hard to develop their car during the season. And as the season advances, it will get more and more competitive, so we need to be ready for that. We can still extract more speed and performance from our car, and China gives us an opportunity to do just that."

Explain a lap around the Shanghai International Circuit.

"Shanghai is a very front-limited track, which puts a lot of front load into the tires. Turn one is very fast and a very long corner – one which is very different to other corners of the season. It's quite iconic to Shanghai. You arrive full speed, and when you enter into the corner, you have to wait very long into turn two. You have turn three, which has a very long exit, and it's quite tricky on traction as you put a lot of lateral on the exit. You go through turns four and five, which is a very high-speed section, and then into turn six and seven, one of my favorite parts of the track. You really come into turn six with full speed and then change direction into turn seven. You have to prepare for turns eight and nine because this sequence is very important not to lose the rhythm. Then getting into turn 10, it's a small 90 degree corner which exits to a very, very long straight into turn 11, which is the beginning of a very long corner. You go from very low speed to increasing the speed through the corner, and it's a part of the circuit where it's easy to hurt the front tires. It's an important part of the circuit when it comes to the car's race setup. Then one of the longest straights of the season is the backstraight, were you're at maximum speed. You arrive into a very high-braking corner – the hairpin turn 14. Then the last corner is 90 degrees – a medium-speed corner –which is quite tricky on the exit because you have the curb which you can use quite a lot but, obviously, it has its limits. You're always trying to maximize the track. It's quite challenging."

Gutierrez Chinese GP History


Aerodynamic performance is tested at the Chinese Grand Prix thanks to the circuit’s 1km back straight and its combination of sweeping turns. The back straight is a great place for overtaking, but not the only opportunity on the track. The layout’s demanding corners test the Pirelli tyre whilst fans cheer on their heroes in the 24,000 capacity grandstand. An addition to the calendar in 2004, the first sequence of corners on the track have been described as one of the hardest in Formula One as fast entry speeds are quickly discarded under heavy breaking due to a tightening track for almost 270° before quickly changing direction. The Chinese Grand Prix is host to the continuing growing fan base in Asia.

For Shanghai, Pirelli have made available the supersoft (for use in Q3), soft and medium compound tyres for dry-weather running. The intermediate and wet tyres are also available. Pirelli have allocated three sets of tyres to each driver, but each driver can now choose their remaining ten sets from the available compounds. In China, Williams has chosen to allocate each driver with different sets of tyres. Valtteri will be racing with two sets of medium tyres, four sets of soft tyres, and seven sets of supersoft tyres. Felipe will be racing with one set of medium tyres, five sets of soft tyres, and seven sets of supersoft tyres.

Pat Symonds

The Shanghai International Circuit has quite long straights with average corner speeds on the low side. However, Turns 7, 8 and 13 do exercise the high-speed characteristics of the car. The long duration of the corners puts a lot of energy through the tyres, therefore tyre wear is generally the limiting factor for strategy choice. Whilst in 2015 we generally saw two-stop strategies, experience so far in 2016 shows that teams are pushing to more aggressive strategies due to the freedom of tyre choice. The championship is extremely close, therefore we must keep pushing to remain competitive.

Felipe Massa

I think Shanghai is a nice track and it’s always fantastic to go back to China. I have a lot of fans there, and I always enjoy going to see them. We get people waiting outside the hotel all day, so it’s really amazing to be with them. I’m really looking forward to that. The fans always have a lot of gifts for me and my family, which is amazing. I’ve had good races there, including last year when I finished fifth. I look forward to another good race, and maybe even finishing on the podium.

Valtteri Bottas

China is a good track to drive. It has a massive long straight, which boosts overtaking. It has some high-speed corners which I very much like, and our car is not bad in those kind of conditions either. The weather can normally play a part in the China race weekend. It’s still the beginning of the year, and we are still looking to see improvements in our performance all the time. I’m looking forward to going to China and meeting all the fans. We have great support over there, and I thank our Chinese fans for that.

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