The highly technical and challenging Shanghai International Circuit hosts the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where Bridgestone tyres will once more be seen in action after just a weeks break from the last race. Changes to the calendar mean that the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix takes place just six months after the last event here. That race was won by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton using a hard-hard-medium tyre strategy. This season the move to slick tyres means new tyre allocations for races, so China will see the medium and super soft tyres allocated the same tyres as used in the Australian Grand Prix – giving the teams and drivers a tough challenge for tyre management. Shanghai has two long straights and sixteen corners of varying types over its 5.45 km. Heavy braking, extreme lateral loads and high demands on traction are just some of the factors that Bridgestones medium and super soft compound Potenza tyres will encounter. Turns 2 and 7 are likely to induce tyre graining, whilst the high lateral G-force generated through the sequence of turns 7-8 will place strong demands on the tyres construction and heat durability. A two stop pit strategy has been the favoured option in the past, as running with a heavy car as required for a one-stop strategy is likely to be very detrimental to lap times and cause heavier wear to the tyres. There is an element of gradient changes over the course of a lap as well as an element of banking in turn 13. Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, said: What are the challenges of Shanghai? Shanghai International Circuit is severe on tyres. 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 thirteen. 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. We will see the super soft compound in use again, how difficult will tyre management be? In Australia there was a particular challenge of graining on the super soft tyre, however this graining varied across the teams between the front and the rear, which means that the correct compromise set- up for these new cars is still being found. For this reason we would expect less graining in China as the teams now have better understanding of their cars than at the first race. Also, Shanghai is a permanent race track so the track surface should be better.
Stats & Facts Number & Spec of tyres brought to China 1800 (Medium & super soft dry. intermediate/wets) Pole position time 2008: 1min 36.303secs (Hamilton) Fastest race lap 2008: 1min 36.325secs (Hamilton) Top three 2008: Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen