Chinese GP 2014 – Ferrari closing the gap to the top teams

April 15, 2014

Maranello, 15 April – The Formula 1 season has been rushing along at a hectic pace since the curtain raiser in Melbourne, with no less than three Grands Prix taking place in the space of three weeks. The data base of information available to the Scuderia Ferrari engineers has grown since the first race of the year and the numbers generated have been poured over, picked at and used to drive simulation programmes back in Maranello.

However, despite the advances made in virtual car development, there is still no substitute for real track time and so Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are looking forward to getting back on track at the Shanghai International Circuit for the fourth round of the world championship.

That’s particularly true given that the Bahrain Grand Prix proved to be the most difficult race so far for the Scuderia. It was no surprise given that the desert track was always going to highlight the weak points of the F14 T, without ever playing to its strengths. “Since the Bahrain race, it’s been a very busy time for us, as we examined all areas of car performance from the power unit to suspension configurations and aerodynamic improvements,” commented Ferrari’s Engineering Director Pat Fry.

All three races so far have been won by the same team and therefore Fry is realistic about the Scuderia’s short term goals. “We are naturally working as hard as we can on closing the gap to the top teams, with Mercedes having a reasonable lead over the rest of the field,” says the Englishman. “Currently, our first priority is to establish ourselves as the second best team. We are looking at all areas of the car – power unit, aero, suspension. We are trying to make as big a step as we can for each and every race.”

As for the challenge presented by 56 laps of the 5.451 kilometres of the Shanghai International Circuit, Fry sees it as typical of the modern breed of race circuit.

“China’s an interesting track with a good mix of corner types. It begins with the long slow speed corners early in the lap, then a mix of high speed ones in the middle sector, plus a very long straight, about 1.3 kilometres worth, where you need to tune the cars for maximum top speed. However, even with this straight, normally in Shanghai, you find yourself running more towards the top end of the downforce range and with that long straight providing the one real overtaking opportunity, I’m sure everyone will be looking to trade off speed to make sure you can both attack and defend.”

There are other challenges in China starting with the long straight, which will ask questions of the still relatively new power units. The brakes will have a much easier time than in previous races, however tyres, particularly the rears, need careful looking after because of the loads imposed by all the very long corners.

It’s proving hard to make predictions this year – at least when it comes to who can challenge the current leaders – so the Scuderia Ferrari crew will approach the Shanghai weekend in its usual methodical way in the hope that lessons learned so far will see the F14 T run more competitively.

In his usual blunt way, Kimi Raikkonen sums up perfectly what lies ahead for the Prancing Horse. “We know what we have to do. The people are pushing 100 per cent, but it takes time.”

McLaren Preview Chinese Grand Prix 2014

April 14, 2014

2014 Chinese Grand Prix – preview

 #ChineseGP

#McLarenLIVE

 Formula 1 returns to the Far East for round four of the 2014 world championship, the Chinese Grand Prix. The race takes place just outside Shanghai, China’s industrial and financial capital, and the on-track action is always frenetic thanks to the Shanghai International Circuit’s huge straights, wide run-off areas and notoriously unpredictable weather.

 Shanghai International Circuit facts & stats

Even now, 10 years after the Shanghai International Circuit first hosted a grand prix, the sheer scale of the venue is breathtaking. Its two nine-storey pit buildings, the 29,000-seat main grandstand and the ornate team pavilions in the paddock give the track a dimension that sets it apart from other circuits around the world.

 The 5.451km track was built on marshland deemed unsuitable for housing in 2003. To shore up the wallowing wasteland more than 40,000 concrete pillars were inserted into the ground – something that the track’s designers, Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl, described as “a huge undertaking”. Construction work was completed in time for the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in September 2004.

 The clockwise layout contains an eclectic mix of corners, from the 270-degree ever-tightening Turn One to the fast esses in sector two. The final sector incorporates the longest straight on the F1 calendar, at the end of which lies the best overtaking point on the lap, a second-gear hairpin.

 Temperatures are expected to be much cooler than at the last couple of races, and there’s always the chance of rain on China’s eastern fringes in April. Four Chinese GPs have been affected by wet weather, and the 2009 edition was one of only eight races in F1 history to be started behind the Safety Car due to poor weather.

 Pirelli will take their Medium and Soft tyre compounds to China, as they did in Australia and Bahrain. The Soft tyre is expected to give better performance over one lap, with the Medium compound, which performs well on cooler track surfaces, expected to be the better race tyre.

 McLaren has won the Chinese Grand Prix three times, Jenson magnificently leading home a one-two at a deluged event in 2010. The Shanghai International Circuit is another new racetrack for Kevin Magnussen, but he’s already proved this year that he’s a very fast learner.

 Shanghai International Circuit – the stats you need

Race distance                       56 laps (305.066km/189.559 miles)

Start time                               15:00 (local)/07:00 (GMT)

Circuit length                        5.451km/3.387 miles

2013 winner                           Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F138) 56 laps in 1hr36m26.945s (189.778km/h)

2013 pole                               Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes W04) 1m 34.484s (207.692km/h)

Lap record                             Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m32.238s (212.749km/h)

 First race                                2004

What makes it special          The mighty architecture, the longest straight in F1, and the passing into the Turn 14 hairpin

Wins from pole position      5

Track abrasiveness              Medium. The track is relatively smooth, but the long corners make it demanding on tyres – particularly the front-left

Pirelli tyre choice                  Soft (Option)/Medium (Prime)

2013 winning strategy         3

Fuel consumption                Medium. The flowing nature of the racetrack makes fuel less of a strategic factor than in Bahrain, for example

Brakewear                              Medium. There are a couple of big stops, particularly into Turn 14, but the brakes have plenty of time to recover

Weather                                  Mixed. Nearly half of the Chinese GPs to date have been affected by wet weather. It is often chilly in China during April

DRS zones                             2 – one on the start-finish straight, the other on the approach to Turn 14

Turbo Effect                          Low, due to not much acceleration from low speeds

Safety Car likelihood            43 per cent – there have been two Safety Car periods in a couple of Chinese GPs

Grid Advantage                    The left side of the grid holds a slight advantage.

Pitlane time                           21s

 McLaren at the Chinese Grand Prix

Wins                                       3 (2008, ’10, ’11)

Poles                                      2 (2007, ’08)

Fastest laps                           3 (2005, ’08, ’10)

 2014 drivers’ championship

1 Nico Rosberg                     61

2 Lewis Hamilton                   50

3 Nico Hulkenberg                28

4 Fernando Alonso               26

5 Jenson Button                   23

6 Sebastian Vettel                  23

7 Kevin Magnussen              20

8 Valtteri Bottas                      18

9 Sergio Perez                       16

10 Daniel Ricciardo              12

11 Felipe Massa                    12

12 Kimi Raikkonen                7

13 Jean-Eric Vergne             4

14 Daniil Kvyat                       3

 Constructors’ championship

1 Mercedes                            111

2 Force India                         44

3 McLaren                              43

4 Red Bull                               35

5 Ferrari                                  33

6 Williams                              30

7 Toro Rosso                        7

Ferrari Day 2 Test Bahrain 2014

April 13, 2014