Chinese Grand Prix - selected preview quotes 13 Oct 2008
The Asian leg of the Formula One season continues with the penultimate round of the 18-race world championship, the Chinese Grand Prix, in Shanghai this coming Sunday. The teams and drivers look ahead to the race that could see the 2008 drivers title decided...
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 13th, 2007 Race - 9th
I like Shanghai - for a new track, its got a bit of character, some good corners and plenty of variety. People talk about the first corner, thats a technical challenge, but I really like Turns Eight and Nine - the high-speed esses - and the double left-hander that immediately follows it. Thats the good bit. The long straights mean you need to lose some downforce, but you really need the grip through some of the trickier corners. So finding a balance isnt easy; there are also some areas of heavy braking, so you cant just set the car up to deal with one characteristic, you need a bit of everything.
I know I dont have much to lose but Im aware we need to keep scoring points to do the maximum for the team; I cant go completely crazy and try my luck. I need to be sensible, but Ill still be attacking because I want to score some good points."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - DNF
Sometimes Ive been on YouTube and seen a video clip or a picture of me in the gravel last year and thought, Damn! That shouldnt have happened. But it was a learning mistake. I can still move forwards from it; things like that happen for a reason and it taught me a lot. Last year, the last couple of races taught me a lot about my personality and my life. And Im stronger for it.
"I wouldnt call Shanghai a technical circuit. Some of the slower turns require a more precise approach, but youve got to really attack some of the corners. Its technical in the sense that you cant make a slow or poorly-balanced car go quickly around it, but finding a good set-up is one of the jobs of a racing driver and, for that reason, I like it."
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
"As this season has progressed, its become increasingly difficult to characterise the circuits that favour ourselves or favour Ferrari. And that has gone away because both teams have understandably addressed some of the weaknesses of their cars. But Shanghai is a good circuit, with a good mix of corners that requires a good car to get the best from it. To that extent, theres every reason to suppose Ferrari and ourselves will be very close there."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Last years race was indeed one of the worst for all in the team. Lewis had been dominant in the opening stages, but we made a wrong call bringing him in for a tyre-change. it was a race we should have won but didnt - and that was our mistake, not Lewiss. But thats history. After a difficult race at Fuji Lewis is still five points ahead in the championship; so the team and him have it in their hands to get the job done in the final two races."
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 3rd
Last year, in Shanghai, I finished third in a race that began in the wet. The track itself is quite interesting and everything there is on a very big scale, although the journey to and from the circuit can be a bit painful at times with the heavy traffic. I had quite a good race last year and hope to do even better this time. I like the circuit and I think it will suit the F2008, so of course we will be aiming to get a one-two finish."
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 1st
Now we're going to China. Let's see what we can do there, where I won last year. Shanghai is a very demanding track and I really like it. Our goal is a one-two win. I'll give it all to help Felipe and the team to gain the results we want.
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 15th, 2007 Race - 16th
I like the track in Shanghai, and I like the city, so Im looking forward to this weekend. I dont have too high an expectation for the race because, like Japan, the circuit doesnt suit our car very well and were a little bit off the pace. Well be doing the best we can though, and theres always the possibility of rain in China so you never know what could happen. I had some good fun overtaking in Fuji - Shanghai also has some good places to overtake, so I hope I can have another race like last Sunday. I arrive in Shanghai early, straight after Fuji, so Ill be chilling out and doing a bit of training before another weekend of racing starts.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
After my home Grand Prix, its nice to stay in Asia. I think the race will be a little bit difficult for us because our car doesnt suit the type of circuit very well, but I will do my best, like in Japan. I drove during Friday mornings practice session last year, so at least Ill have a bit of knowledge of the track when I get there, unlike some other venues this season. Its a challenging circuit but Im looking forward to driving it again. I have some more media and marketing commitments over the three days before the race, so Ill really only have Wednesday evening to relax before heading to the circuit on Thursday.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Shanghai has a good mix of slow, medium and high speed corners. There are two sections around the circuit where the corners flow smoothly from one to the other, so its important for the drivers to achieve a good balance early on in the sequence in order to set a good lap time.
Pit-stop strategy will most likely be a straightforward two stop option. However, for the last couple of visits to Shanghai, we have had variable weather conditions and that always plays a big part in strategy selection. This year, the race is expected to be dry with temperatures around the 26ºC mark, but you can never be 100 percent certain. Bridgestone will bring the hard and medium compound tyres to the race.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 18th, 2007 Race - 11th
Shanghai is a great circuit and I have had some good results there. I've competed in every race since it came onto the calendar in 2004 and actually finished in all of them, so I will want to keep up this record. My best result was a podium in 2006 and in 2005 the points I got from fourth position secured Renault the manufacturers' title, so I've got good memories there.
I think now we have to keep pushing until the end of the year. I've gone too long without points now and I don't want to get to the end of the year without any on the board. It would just mean so much to everyone at the track and at the factory.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 21st, 2007 Race - DNF
The Shanghai circuit is a very interesting one for the drivers. It's a very modern lay-out so very wide with big run off areas but, like Istanbul Park in Turkey, there are some tricky corners that you need to concentrate through. The actual city is fantastic too, so it's an event I really enjoy. Last year the race was not so good for us as we just got caught out in the weather conditions, but at least I have one Chinese race under my belt now and we can build on our performance in Japan. We were running in 10th position and I felt confident I could have got higher, but then I had the puncture.
I'm really looking forward to China as I now really just want to have a clean race. We've been so unlucky in the last two races and a good result would really lift everyone.
Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and managing director
With just one week between the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix it's a very quick turn around for the team, but it does not leave any opportunity for our momentum to slip. Although the ultimate result of Japan was disappointing, we could see that the level of performance we demonstrated in Monza, which allowed us to go through to Q2, had returned.
We need to keep this motivation and improved pace until the end of the season and not let our heads go down, there is so much to still keep working for. I think everyone would be disappointed if we got to the end of the year in effectively the same position we started, without any points on the board. It's a matter of personal pride for everyone.
Colin Kolles, Force India team principal
I think our race pace was good in Japan and despite the fact the race result was ultimately disappointing, we showed that the Singapore performance was just a bit of a blip. I think we are competitive with the very close group at the rear of the field now and if we start a bit higher up the grid, we stand every chance of finishing well. Opportunities are running out now and we need to start making the most of all of our chances.
Mike Gascoyne, Force India chief technical officer
China is a typical modern track with some quite long straights followed by hairpins and very challenging corners. We will use a very similar set-up to Japan over there to maximise performance, with a lower downforce setting to optimise the speed down the straights without compromising the grip levels in the corners. In contrast to Japan, the Shanghai circuit is perhaps a little bumpier now it is several years old and has greater extremes of climate.
Japan showed an improvement in performance for us from Singapore, which was not the highest point of the year! Although both drivers had their problems, we are pretty certain that they won't occur again. Giancarlo lost drive in seventh gear which is not something we have seen before, but we are currently looking into the reasons for the failure. Adrian's accident was somewhat of a strange accident, he'd been running well and then had a puncture that exploded on the main straight. Thankfully he could pull off safely and no further damage was caused, but it was a one-off and should not occur again. We will be going to China fully motivated to do well. We're back racing the rest of the field, we just need to get two cars to the finish now.
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 2nd
Formula One is still a relatively new sport in China but the fans are very enthusiastic and very welcoming, just as they are in Japan. It's a real change of surroundings and the infrastructure here is enormous. I can't wait to get back in the car this weekend as it's an interesting place to drive a Formula One car. I think the circuit provides several interesting challenges for both the drivers and the engineers. It's made up of long straights, high-speed corners, but also some slow corners. So again it will be a case of compromising with the set-up to find the right balance with a car that is stable in the corners with plenty of downforce and which still has enough straight-line speed to be able to defend or overtake on the straights. That is what we will concentrate on during Friday practice. We saw in Fuji that our level of performance was reasonable compared to Ferrari and McLaren, so you have to feel that once again anything is possible this weekend - a podium or a victory. The whole team is very motivated after our two wins in Singapore and Fuji and we will do everything possible to have another strong race.
Nelson Piquet, Renault
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
I am confident and looking forward to driving at Shanghai. The circuit seems impressive and if we can get the car working as well as it did in Fuji then we have a good chance of a strong weekend. For me it's important to learn the circuit quickly on Friday so that I can make the most of the three hours of track time available to me. It's quite a typical circuit so I'm not especially worried about it and I've already done some good preparation with my engineers based on the information and data from previous years. Once again I think that we need to concentrate on getting a well balanced car that has good change of direction and that is stable under braking so that I can feel confident and able to attack the circuit. From the start of the weekend in Fuji I felt comfortable in the car and I hope that will be the case again this weekend in Shanghai. I know that to have a good race I must improve my performance in qualifying to be able to reach Q3 so that I can aim for big things in normal race conditions. So I will start with this objective and we will then see what happens in the race, but I'm determined to score points as I know how important that is for the team's fight for fourth place in the championship.
Bob Bell, Renault technical director
For a modern circuit it's not a great technical challenge as it's fairly average in terms of most characteristics being a medium-speed and medium downforce circuit. It's not a great track for overtaking opportunities, but it does have some exciting corners such as the long right-hander of Turn 13 which leads on to the long back straight. It's a track where we have done well in the past and I'm sure we can deliver another strong performance this weekend. We won't approach the race particularly differently, although I think we now have the self-confidence and belief that we can finish on the podium and challenge for the win. That means that we might take a more aggressive attitude than we might otherwise have done, but we will remain mindful of the need to maintain our points advantage over Toyota.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
"The Shanghai International Circuit is very severe on tyres and that is why we are bringing the two hardest compounds from our range. There are very high lateral forces and we expect to see graining on the front left tyres, especially caused by the increasing radius Turn Two and the banked Turn 13. We could also see graining on the rear tyres here too. The circuit layout means that a medium downforce set-up will be used, as there are two long straights, but a large percentage of the track is also very twisty and technical. For the teams and drivers, finding the correct set-up to make the best use of their tyres will be a big challenge."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - 12th, 2007 Race - 13th
"Shanghai is an interesting circuit and it is pretty challenging to find the best set-up because there are a lot of very slow corners but also two long, high-speed straights. Then there is Turn 13, which is key to a good lap time because if you lose speed there you suffer throughout the long straight. I have never enjoyed a lot of luck in China but I do enjoy racing there and I hope this year will finally see me score my first points at the track. We have been pushing really hard all season and we are still very motivated to finish the year on a high in these last two races. In the end we had to be happy with fifth place in Fuji but I was hoping for a little more in front of our home fans. The lower temperatures didn't really suit our car in Japan but it should be a bit warmer in China, which will be better for us. I am fired up to get a good result this weekend."
Timo Glock, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
"This is one of the few circuits I raced a Formula One car on before this season and it is good to have that experience behind me for this weekend. The facility is amazing; it is so huge and modern, but the track itself is also a bit tricky because you have the unusual first corner and a few other challenging spots. It is amazing to think my first season with Toyota is almost at an end; I have been pleased with my performances and it is satisfying to have met my targets for the year. Our car is competitive and I believe I can score points in every race so that is my first target for this weekend, and after that we will push to finish as high as possible. I was expecting better in Japan, obviously, and I thought I was in decent shape to finish in the points before I had to retire. It's good that we race again so soon after because I can forget what happened at Fuji and focus on returning to the points in Shanghai."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyotas senior general chassis manager
"Shanghai has a very unusual layout and that gives us various challenges on the set-up front. Even though you have the two straights and you want good top speed, the track is still relatively high downforce and that is because of Turns 1 and 13. You need good balance through the very long right-hander of Turn 13 so you can take the speed on to the straight. This corner is also crucial to overtaking because if you can follow another car closely, you have a chance to pass into Turn 14. We have the hardest compounds of Bridgestone tyres this weekend and that makes sense because in the past we have seen graining issues with softer tyres in China. We used the same specifications last year and they behaved reasonably well. In terms of other parameters such as the brakes and the engine, Shanghai is not particularly demanding. We will again use some of the upgrades we introduced in Fuji and I am confident we can be competitive."
Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 10th, 2007 Race - 5th
"I like the layout of the Shanghai International Circuit as it is quite demanding and technical for the drivers but also fun to drive. There are a lot of high-speed sections which I enjoy and you need good straight-line speed for the pit straight and the long straight which stretches for over a kilometre between Turns 13 and 14. It's very different from many of the circuits which we race on and the fact that there are a few good overtaking opportunities, particularly going into Turn 1 and then at the banked entry onto the back straight, make it more exciting. Our focus in practice will be on achieving the right downforce level for the car which will be a compromise set-up to accommodate the different types of corner and the straights."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 16th, 2007 Race - 15th
"Shanghai is a fantastic race venue and winning the first Grand Prix here (in 2004) means that the race holds some good memories for me. The circuit itself is exciting with the combination of long straights and different speed corners combining to make a very technical track. The unique feature here is the length of some of the corners, particularly Turn 1 and Turn 13. To have a good lap here, you need to have a very good aerodynamic balance, straight-line speed for the two main straights and good car stability. The weather can also play its part so it will be interesting to see the forecast for the race weekend."
Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"From our home race in Japan this weekend, the team heads straight to China for the penultimate race of the 2008 season. The set-up and downforce configurations required for the RA108 at the Shanghai International Circuit are similar to those used at the Fuji Speedway with some extra downforce added. Shanghai has some unusually long corners therefore we will be using the next step in tyre compounds with Bridgestone providing the medium and hard tyres which will be more durable and resistant to degradation. We are realistic on our expectations for the Chinese Grand Prix weekend and foresee a similar level of performance to that at Fuji this weekend. Whilst this is disappointing, we will reap the benefits of our decision to stop developing the RA108 and concentrate on 2009 next year. The weather forecast for the week ahead looks mixed with a high chance of showers over the weekend, so that may throw up a few on-track surprises and make for an exciting weekend."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - 7th
"On the whole, I quite like this circuit. The first three corners are among the best on the calendar. You come in with a lot of speed, and the first corner remains pretty fast initially. But then it tightens up more and more and you have to change down into second gear. Getting out the other end in good shape will be just a bit more difficult this year with the absence of traction control. Every time you come here you're impressed by the huge scale of the paddock and grandstands; there's nothing else like it. Last year I got unlucky with the timing of a tyre change onto a fresh set of wets. Second place was possible, but that turned into seventh when I had to come in for an extra stop.
Shanghai will be the fifth Asian city in a row I've visited - after Singapore, Seoul, Gwang-ju and Tokyo - and each one is different. Shanghai is certainly the fastest-growing and without doubt the one with the worst traffic conditions. Each time we come to Shanghai there are new skyscrapers, but every year a few of the old districts also disappear from the city centre."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 9th, 2007 Race - DNF
"Shanghai is an interesting circuit with a very long straight, and here there's a good chance to overtake. The track offers a mixture of very different corners; there are some slow areas but also several fast sections. The first corner is particularly challenging. You stay on the brakes for a long time, and then it quickly switches into a left-hander. I haven't had much luck at this circuit so far. I hope that changes this time and I can pick up some important points for the world championship."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:
"Just a week after the race in Japan we travel to China for the second part of this Asian double-header. This means we will have had five races on this continent this year. If you add the Turkish Grand Prix, that means there are six GPs in Asia - a third of the season. Plus, next year will also see the first visit of Formula One to Abu Dhabi. All of which shows that the top category of motor racing has established a major foothold in Asia.
This will be the fifth time that Formula One comes to China. The scale of the facility in Shanghai is beyond any other venue on the calendar and the track layout is a tough challenge. We are very much looking forward to the penultimate race of the season."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
"The track in Shanghai stands out with its very special layout. A particularly interesting section is the double right-hander, double left-hander combination at the end of the start-finish straight. The drivers approach it with a lot of speed and then stay on the brakes for a long time on the entry. This is a very unusual section, which places heavy demands on the tyres.
The long straight offers a good overtaking opportunity, as it feeds into a hairpin and the track is very wide at this point, allowing the drivers to take two different lines. The combination of widely contrasting corners demands a high level of aerodynamic efficiency. With the tyres put under such heavy loads we use the hardest Bridgestone compounds here."
More to follow.