China 2017 race start - Photo by Wolfgang Wilhelm for Mercedes

Formula 1 News: Teams wary as F1 finally returns to China

(GMM) Red Bull is not being complacent about its likely performance as Formula 1 finally returns to China this weekend.

The team has been dominant so far in 2024, but given Max Verstappen’s reliability DNF in Melbourne, and Ferrari’s improved form, the gaps in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships remain modest for now.

Also in Melbourne, Red Bull was somewhat caught out in terms of setup and pace.

“I hope we don’t have many surprises like in Australia,” Dr Helmut Marko told Sky Deutschland. “The asphalt was so aggressive there.

“We were also completely wrong about the tire wear, which is where we normally excel,” he added. “We saw with Checo (Perez) that we had a lot of wear.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, has already raised the alarm about the ‘sprint’ weekend format assigned for China’s return to the calendar after a long covid-related absence.

“We hope we are not surprised about tire wear,” Marko said, “but I think we know more now about how to respond. But of course it (China) will be a completely new situation for almost everyone.”

Indeed, on top of Shanghai’s F1 absence, the track surface has been re-asphalted – including recent works to smooth out some of the worst major bumps.

“We’ve seen that Ferrari were very competitive in Melbourne but also at Suzuka,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said.

Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, told Speed Week: “I think with those long corners and a track a bit like Australia, Ferrari will be quick. But also Red Bull.”

Ferrari will be hoping for a good result in Shanghai, ahead of the next race after that in Miami – and then comes Imola, where the Italian-based team will unveil its first major car upgrade.

“If the simulator’s gains are echoed on the track, it will bring approximately two and a half tenths,” claims a report at Sky Italia.

Charles Leclerc is also hoping to up his game relative to on-form teammate Carlos Sainz this weekend.

“I’ve spent three days working in the simulator to learn how to get the tires up to temperature,” says the Monegasque. “There will be two qualifyings and two races with a lot of points on the table, so I have to be prepared.

“No one likes to come second – I want to win,” Leclerc added.

Former F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, however, doubts that Ferrari is quite ready for that.

“They’ve made progress,” the Italian told Corriere dello Sport, “but they’re not ready for the title. That doesn’t mean it won’t be a fun championship.

“Then, if reliability problems at Red Bull come back, that could be a big problem for them. I think Ferrari will have a say in many races this year,” Liuzzi predicts.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :