2012 Chinese Grand Prix
Table of Contents
Shanghai International Circuit facts & stats
The scale of the Shanghai International Circuit is breathtaking. Built on marshland in 2003, the track sits on more than 40,000 stabilising concrete pillars and its infrastructure is bigger and bolder than at any other circuit on the Formula 1 calendar.
The track is a good technical challenge for the teams and drivers with some high-speed changes of direction and a 1km back straight offering a challenge to find the least compromised set-up. One of the most demanding corners on the lap is Turn One, a tightening right-hander entered at speeds in excess of 300km/h with an apex speed or 70km/h. It places the left-front tyre under prolonged stress, which has an impact on wear rates and race strategy.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has a strong record in the Chinese Grand Prix. The team has won the race three times and finished on the podium on seven further occasions.
|Race distance||56 Laps (189.568 miles/305.066km)|
|Start time||15:00 (local)/07:00 (GMT)|
|Circuit length||3.387 miles/5.451km|
|2011 winner||Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) 56 laps in 1hr 36m58.226s (188.758km/h)|
|2011 pole||Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) 1m33.706s (209.416km/h)|
||Michael Schumacher (Ferrari 2004) 1m32.238s (212.749km/h)|
|McLaren at the Chinese Grand Prix|
|Wins||3 (2008, 2010, 2011)|
|Poles||2 (2007, 2008)|
|Fastest laps||3 (2005, 2008, 2010)|
Car 3: Jenson Button
Age 32 (January 19 1980)
You called the Malaysian Grand Prix a “bad day in the office” – does that change your preparations for this weekend’s race in Shanghai?
“Not really, it makes you a little keener to get back in the cockpit as you’re always a bit more determined to be looking ahead rather than looking back. But, like I say, it doesn’t really make any difference. In fact, the three-week break has been extremely relaxing – I was able to get away, relax and keep training. It’s still the start of a very long season, so it’s good to keep fit and refreshed. I’ve usually gone well in Shanghai, it’s a circuit I really enjoy and I’m looking forward to the race weekend.”
You memorably won here in 2010 – what is it about the circuit that makes it special?
“Well, the facilities are amazing, but it’s a very good, modern circuit – the first two sectors are pretty technical, there are some interesting combinations of corners and you need a good, responsive car to go well. Then the track opens up, the straight is one of the longest in Formula 1 – it just keeps going – then you’re into the hairpin and the final turn, both of which offer good opportunities for overtaking. There’s no one particular corner that stands out, but that’s good, because it means they’ve done a good job with the whole track.
“And if it rains, then it’s going to be another extremely unpredictable race as we’re all still learning about the cars and tyres in damp conditions. Whatever happens, it should be interesting.”
What will be the key to a good race performance in 2012?
“There will be the usual set-up compromises: setting the car up to offer good downforce through some of the faster corners, but without sacrificing too much speed along the straights. We saw different teams address that balance in different ways over the first two races, so it will be interesting to see if things start to converge this weekend after a few weeks back in Europe.
“Tyre wear will also be very important – last year we saw a real disparity between the compounds - so getting the preparation right will be crucial.”
Car 4: Lewis Hamilton
Age 27 (January 7 1985)
You opened your winning account in China last year, are you hoping for the same this season?
“I’m looking at the championship as a whole – although, of course, I’d love to win every race, it’s more important to be in a good points-scoring position at every race. I think the first two races have shown that, as a team, we’re definitely in positions to win.
“I think Malaysia was a good example of how to pick up points when you’re looking at the championship – and that was something I really took away as a positive from that race. But yeah, I’ll be heading to China looking to win – but it’s just as important to pick up some good points if, for whatever reason, a win isn’t on the cards.”
What do you like about the Shanghai International Circuit?
“I have some vivid memories of racing in China – some good, some not so good! I’ve won there twice – both were victories I’m really proud of: in 2008, it was a very important race, and I really needed a good result for the championship – we had a pretty much perfect weekend with pole position, fastest lap and the race win. Then in 2011, coming off the back of a difficult weekend in Malaysia, I had a great race, kept pushing every lap and managed to take the lead right at the end. It was a very important win because it showed that we could be a force in the championship that year.”
Your two third positions have consolidated your position in the championship – is that the key to a good season?
“I won’t deny that I’m disappointed to have had two pole positions and not to have been able to convert either of them into victories, but I prefer to think of it that luck just hasn’t been on my side, and that it will swing my way sooner or later.
“I also think last year taught me the value of consistency: it’s no use chasing a great result if you can't back it up with another strong finish the following week. So maybe I’m just playing myself in gently: after all, in 2007, I didn’t win a race until the sixth round, and I was in the hunt for the title all through the year. I still don’t think the pecking order has settled down yet, so it’s important to get some good results in the bag while we can. It will be very interesting to see how the order has shaken itself out over the last three weeks – it’s going to be an interesting weekend.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“The Chinese Grand Prix is a race in which we’ve traditionally gone very well – we’ve won three of the past four races here, all of which have come through faultless performances from Jenson and Lewis – and we head to Shanghai this year keen to add to that tally.
“While there are mixed feelings to have only been able to convert two all-front-row starting positions into one race win, everybody here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes feels extremely encouraged by our pace in the first two grands prix of the season.
“Make no mistake, however: we’re acutely aware that our rivals won’t have stood still during the past three weeks. We’ve certainly been extremely busy, too, and we don’t take anything for granted: if the overall competitive order was a little hard to read in the first two races, I have no doubt that it will start to become clearer next weekend, and I strongly believe that, once again, it will be closely fought at the front.”
How McLaren defined six days in the history of the Chinese Grand Prix
1. September 26 2004
The inaugural Chinese Grand Prix ends with the top three separated by just 1.4s. Kimi Raikkonen comes home third for McLaren, after sitting on the gearbox of Jenson Button from the second round of pitstops.
2. October 16 2005
Kimi finishes second to newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso. He sets the fastest lap of the race, but loses a strategic advantage when the Safety Car is deployed after Juan Pablo Montoya dislodges a piece of metal grating at Turn 10.
3. October 7 2007
Lewis Hamilton does everything right early on. He leads the race from pole position, but as he pits on lap 31 he runs wide at the pitlane entry and beaches his car in the gravel. Raikkonen wins for Ferrari, ahead of Fernando in the second MP4-22.
4. October 19 2008
Lewis converts pole position into the team’s first victory in China. His fastest lap of the race emphasises his dominance and, as a result of this win, all he needs is fifth place in Interlagos to clinch the world championship.
5. April 18 2010
A classic Jenson Button victory. Light rain falls at the start of the race and Jenson stays on slicks while his rivals pit for intermediates. When the rain stops and the track dries out, Jenson moves into the lead and is never headed. Lewis finishes second to give Vodafone McLaren Mercedes a one-two finish.
6. 17 April 2011
A three-stop strategy and a fresh set of tyres at the end of the race allows Lewis to rapidly close on Sebastian Vettel, who he audaciously passes for the lead with four laps left. Jenson comes home fourth to maintain his 100 percent finishing record in China.
|Shanghai International Circuit Specifications|
|Pit straight length:||1200m|
|Race length:||56 laps/305km|
|Number of corners:||16|
|Longest section at full throttle:||19s/1370m|
|Full throttle:||56% of lap|
|Gearchanges per lap:||53|
|Average ambient temperature:||23°C|
|Average track temperature:||28°C|
|Weather:||Cool; chance of rain|
|Circuit type:||Permanent grand prix facility|
|Landscape:||Reclaimed land, Shanghai|
|1||4||Lewis Hamilton||Vodafone McLaren Mercedes||1:37.106||7|
|6||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.977||1.871||15|
|7||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:39.198||2.092||12|
|8||3||Jenson Button||Vodafone McLaren Mercedes||1:39.199||2.093||6|
|14||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.328||3.222||13|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:42.521||5.415||11|
|20||11||Jules Bianchi||Force India-Mercedes||1:44.118||7.012||8|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:44.227||7.121||10|
|2||4||Lewis Hamilton||Vodafone McLaren Mercedes||1:36.145||0.172||29|
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.160||0.187||27|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.433||0.460||24|
|6||3||Jenson Button||Vodafone McLaren Mercedes||1:36.711||0.738||28|
|8||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:36.966||0.993||31|
|9||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.191||1.218||31|
|22||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:40.343||4.370||25|
Shanghai International Circuit, Friday April 13
P1 programme 7 laps 1m37.106s 1st
P2 programme 29 laps 1m36.145s (+0.172s) 2nd
“It’s been a great day – it stayed dry in the afternoon so we successfully got through our run programme. We’re still working away to improve the set-up, but the new bits on the car seem to be working: the guys back at the factory have done a great job.
“We look competitive – and I’ve been particularly focusing on the longer runs for this weekend. We still need to make a few improvements but our car looks good.
“I’ll be changing the gearbox on my car before P3. It’s going to be a close qualifying session tomorrow – it’ll be a good battle and hopefully we can start as high up the grid as possible because I think we’ll still be in the race and among the leading group. I love the challenge of coming through and gaining positions.”
P1 programme 6 laps 1m39.199s (+2.093s) 8th
P2 programme 28 laps 1m36.711s (+0.738s) 6th
“It’s been a little bit of a difficult day for me. I was trying to find a good set-up but the cold weather made it difficult to understand the car because the tyres weren’t working perfectly.
“Tomorrow should be a bit warmer than today – we don’t quite understand the tyre temperatures and can’t get them quite in the right area. And if we make a set-up change and the tyre temp changes by five or 10 degrees, then that change goes out the window.
“That’s something for us to sort out, but we’ve got a lot of useful information from the low- and high-fuel runs. It’s been a tricky day but there’s a lot of good information to go through – we’ll find a better direction overnight.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Today’s low temperatures meant it was difficult to chase the optimum tyre performance – particularly on Jenson’s side of the garage. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from today: our car looks to be quick, the upgrade package that we brought to this race also seems to be a positive step, and our long-run pace is also promising.
“This evening, we’ll be looking closely at how to best match the set-up to the tyre temperatures, and working further to refine the balance of the car, but this is undoubtedly a good place from which to start.”
|1||4||Lewis Hamilton||Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes||1:35.940||13|
|2||3||Jenson Button||Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes||1:36.063||0.123||12|
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.635||0.695||16|
|9||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:37.039||1.099||15|
|11||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.237||1.297||16|
|13||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.288||1.348||16|
|24||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:41.499||5.559|
|2||4||Lewis Hamilton||Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes||1:36.763||1:35.902||1:35.626||14|
|6||3||Jenson Button||Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes||1:36.746||1:35.942||1:36.191||16|
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.682||1:35.700||1:36.290||14|
|11||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.911||1:36.031||11|
|15||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:36.639||1:36.317||14|
|16||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:36.921||1:36.745||14|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:40.411||7|
|Q1 107% Time||1:42.931|
1st 1m35.940s 13 laps
Q1 10th 1m36.763s (on Primes)
Q2 6th 1m35.902s (on Options)
Q3 2nd overall* 1m35.626s (on Options)
* starts seventh following five-place grid penalty owing to an unscheduled gearbox change
“Very big congratulations to Nico [Rosberg] today. We first met back in 1997 and were team-mates in 2000. We’ve been good friends ever since. When we were team-mates, we always dreamed of qualifying first and second together in Formula 1 – and it’s crazy that we did that today.
“Looking at the race, we’ve got a good car but I’m going to have to work my way up through the field tomorrow. But as long as I move forward in the race, I’ll be happy.
“I’ve set my car up to be at its strongest in the race. So, although Jenson and I are a little bit further back than we’d like, and we’ve got a bit of work to do, we can still make it. There’s a good group of drivers ahead of us on the grid, but we’re right with them in terms of race pace. This is a track where you can overtake, and we’ve got DRS too – so I’m massively excited about tomorrow.”
2nd 1m36.063s (+0.123s) 12 laps
Q1 9th 1m36.746s (on Primes)
Q2 9th 1m35.942s (on Options)
Q3 6th overall* 1m36.191s (on Options)
* starts fifth following one-place promotion owing to Lewis’s penalty
“In Q1, we went out on the softer tyre and put a lap on it when most of the other teams didn’t. In Q2, I felt I had too much understeer, so we made a few adjustments for Q3. However, I could feel the temperature dropping in that final session: I think we just went out a little too late.
“Of course, that’s a little bit disappointing, but our race pace seems to be very good. It’s going to be tricky to get heat into the front tyres if it’s cold tomorrow though – but then that’s not unusual for me. But that’s the way it is and I hope we can have a good race from fifth on the grid.
“Our aim will be to go for victory. That won’t be easy, but we ought to be as quick or quicker than most of the cars in front of us in the race. The unusual one is Kamui [Kobayashi], who seems to have very good long-run pace.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“First of all, I’d like to offer our congratulations to Mercedes AMG, for whom Nico took his first ever Grand Prix pole position this afternoon.
“It was a peculiar qualifying session, in which the to-ing and fro-ing of grip levels was abnormally unpredictable. During Q3, the air and track temperatures cooled rapidly as the sky overhead became suddenly overcast, and the circuit became appreciably slower as a result. Nico, who had already cut a very good lap early in the session, was therefore unassailable. Jenson, who went out later, found that the track surface had become much less grippy than it had been beforehand, and the inevitable result was a slower-than-expected lap time from him.
“But that wasn’t his fault; pretty much everyone who was on track at the end of Q3 either recorded a slower lap-time than they’d hoped for, or indeed aborted it, as Lewis did.
“Tomorrow, though, we’re confident that we’ll have two competitive race cars, and, from fifth and seventh on the grid respectively, Jenson and Lewis will be approaching the race with their customary controlled combativeness.”
Fastest lap 1m40.422s (+0.462s, 3rd)
Pitstops Three: laps 11, 24 and 39 (Opt-Opt-Pri-Pri)
2011 points 43 (2nd)
“Congratulations to Nico [Rosberg] today – he drove a faultless race. But who knows what we could have achieved if we’d had a clear run at him in the final stint? Our pace was very good and the aim was to come out ahead of that following pack of cars – which we would have done if we hadn’t lost time in the pitstop – and chase him down and put him under pressure.
“The delay in the final stop was just one of those things though – all the other stops had been very strong this weekend, but that one in particular wasn’t. The delay pushed me back into the traffic, which was a little bit of a shock, but the pace and consistency are there in the car and I was able to get back into second position, after a good battle and a satisfying pass on Sebastian [Vettel].
“It’s disappointing not to have been able to challenge for the win, but it was a fun race with tons of overtaking and lots of battling. More important, it’s been a great day for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes because we’re now leading both world championships.
“It’s very important to be consistent, and it’s nice to be back on the podium, but there are just a couple of little things we need to improve upon to make life even better for ourselves.”
Fastest lap 1m40.530s (+0.570s, 6th)
Pitstops Three: laps 10, 22 and 38 (Opt-Opt-Pri-Pri)
Points 45 (1st)
“I had a great race! And, although neither Jenson nor I was sadly able to win, I’m really happy that Nico took his first win today, but I’m also really pleased for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team: both Jenson and I were able to get back on the podium and score some more good points.
“It was a tough race, though: I’d love to have been able to challenge Nico, and I think maybe I’d have been able to if I’d started on the front row, but we still managed to move forwards from the start I had a lot of fun overtaking people too. I reckon I got everything out of the car that I possibly could.
“It’s also a major positive to know that we’ve got a very consistent car. We just have to make sure we keep moving forwards, that’s all. Mercedes AMG, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Sauber are all up there – that’s a serious championship and it’s going to make for great racing for the fans to watch.
“It’s been a while since I was at the top of the drivers’ world championship – but we’ve got to remain focused. I think if I just continue to work as I am then the wins will surely come, and I’ll keep pushing for some better results in the future.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Nico drove a truly excellent race today, so first of all I want to say ‘bravo’ to him for taking his maiden grand prix victory.
“Well done, too, to Mercedes AMG, who were able to manage their car’s tyre wear this afternoon better than we’d perhaps anticipated.
“As for Jenson and Lewis, well, they both drove brilliantly this afternoon too, coping with a three-stop strategy that demanded that they attack, and overtake, again and again and again throughout the race.
“That’s never easy, and inevitably they both lost a bit of time on track in their efforts to make their passing manoeuvres stick, but they both kept at it and I’m sure the television spectacle was fantastic as a result.
“It was a tough race, but our strategy resulted in both our drivers getting onto the podium. Accordingly, we extended our lead in the constructors’ world championship, whilst Lewis and Jenson now lie first and second in the drivers’ championship.
“Would Jenson have been able to beat Nico if his final pitstop had gone more smoothly? Well, obviously, he’d have lost less time in the pitlane, and undoubtedly he’d have re-emerged onto the track with a clearer road in front of him; but, in all fairness, today was Nico’s day, and we may not have been able to beat him even if Jenson’s final pitstop had been an impeccably slick one.
“So, yes, at his 111th attempt, Nico fully deserved to win today.
“We’ve had three Grands Prix so far this year, and they’ve been won by three different drivers from three different teams. The performance differential between the fastest cars is minimal. It looks like we’ve got a great season ahead of us, doesn’t it? Bring it on!”