After the drama of Bahrain, F1 heads to Shanghai for round three of this season for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Last weekend proved to be interesting with Sakhir being the first proper racetrack of 2018, so which teams still have work to do and who is ready to push on with their season?
Find out the answers as we look at the top things to watch out for this weekend following our track guide.
Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit
Number of laps: 56
Race Distance: 305.066km
Tyre Selection: Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft
|Date/Session||UK Time (BST)|
|Friday 13th April|
|Saturday 14th April|
|Sunday 15th April|
Can Mercedes get Lewis Hamilton right back into the title fight?
2018 hasn’t been Mercedes nor Lewis Hamilton’s year so far with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel taking lucky wins in Australia and Bahrain.
Currently 17 points behind Vettel, Hamilton needs a win here or the gap could widen before we enter the European leg.
Vettel however has to be the least of Mercedes’ worries given Kimi Raikkonen’s one lap pace so far.
Raikonnen has been quicker than Vettel in six of the eight free practice/ Qualifying sessions so far, so could very well be the more immediate threat given his no.2 position at Ferrari.
Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolf believes that ‘in order to win this year, we need to bring our A game’.
Well there’s no better place to bring that A game than China, where the Silver Arrows have won five of the last six Chinese Grands Prix.
In fact, only two races here has been won by a non Mercedes powered car so the omen are looking good for Mercedes.
Either way, this weekend is key for Hamilton’s hopes of a fifth world title.
Progress needed at Williams
Williams have had a nightmare start to this season so need to show progress here as they look to reverse fortunes.
After both drivers exited in Q1 before finishing last on the road (before post race time penalties dropped Brendon Hartley and Sergio Perez below them) last time out, improvement is needed in balance, grip and speed.
Given the number of straights here, Shanghai should provide a good test of those aspects ahead of Baku which favours speed and balance.
Chief Technical Officer, Paddy Lowe said that everyone at Williams needed to ‘work intelligently and diligently’ to overcome their problems.
Speaking in Williams’ preview, Sergey Sirotkin was keen to ‘deliver a better result’ and expects the team to ‘build our confidence’.
He’s right in a better result needing to be delivered but increased confidence might be slightly less than he might hope for, given that rain is forecast for Friday’s practice sessions.
If rain does affect Friday, any step forward on Saturday and in race will be a small confidence boost even if its just in speed.
In summary, progress is needed here no matter how big or small ahead of Baku, where speed will be key.
Can Force India continue their positive development?
Force India are slowly starting to get on top of their new car, having scored a point in Bahrain with Esteban Ocon.
China will see more updates being tested which pleases Perez who is confident that the team can keep on improving.
Previewing this weekend, the Mexican said; “We have more updates to test in China and we just need to keep working in the same direction, as we did in Bahrain.”
Ocon echoed Perez’s thoughts but was more reflective of the progress made in Bahrain, saying; “We learned a huge amount and we’ve taken a step forward with the car.”
Should Friday be wet, it should be interesting to see how Force India’s wet pace is compared to in the dry, after either driver went out in a wet FP3 in Australia.
Last year saw the team pick up their first double point finish in China since 2014, so this track could well be the one that sees their car begin to show its full potential.