|Circuit||Shanghai International Circuit
|Distance||305,066 km / 189,599 miles|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||SF71H||–||Scuderia Ferrari||3.|
|7||Kimi Raikkonen||SF71-H||–||Scuderia Ferrari||8.
“Today’s result was definitely not the one we were aiming for, given that we were starting from the front row. Our race pace wasn’t bad, but this was a Grand Prix in which the many variables made the difference. Kimi made it to the podium and Sebastian limited the damage in a car which, after the collision, was not in the best of conditions for a fight. Now it’s important for us to maintain concentration and determination, already thinking about the next race in Baku.”
quote It was quite a painful race and not a very enjoyable one. At the start I had a good jump, but then I had to back off and this cost me a few places. After the pit stop the car was pretty fast and the feeling was good; at that point we were behind, but I could see the other cars at the end of the straight. The safety car helped us, at that time we had fresh tires. I would say it took us back in the race. In the end I had a decent speed with the Mediums against the guys that were on the same tires, but getting close to them and try to follow was really tricky. For sure we were faster than Valtteri, but when you get close it becomes more difficult, you lose so much grip in the process and lose so much downforce, especially in this kind of circuit. I just couldn’t get enough of a run on him. Today we take the third place, but obviously when you start from the first row it’s far from ideal. We’ll try to do better next time.”
“I was lucky to end my race. After a collision like the one I had, I think we could have even stopped there. Obviously, the lucky thing is that the car was still working, even if the balance was gone. We lost the lead after the pit stop and that was not ideal. We were quite sure we would have come out in front, but we didn’t. The timing of the Safety Car was bad for both me and Valtteri, because we had no chance to react. After that it was clear that Red Bull was faster and I think there was no point to resist much at the way Daniel approached from behind, and then the same happened with Max. I gave him some room just in case he had a bit of tire lock-up, but then obviously he had a big one and that’s why we crashed. I think he realized he was wrong. We were both lucky to continue but it was not necessary. However, I appreciated the fact he came to me straightway because that’s the way to solve things like this, face to face. But obviouslyM this is not the result we were looking for.”
Kimi third but Seb gets hit and finishes eighth. The Safety Car called the shots
Shanghai, 15 April –This race was decided by the arrival of the safety car and tyre strategy. Scuderia Ferrari finished on the podium thanks to Kimi Raikkonen’s third place, but having started from pole, Sebastian Vettel had to settle for eighth place after Verstappen ran into him, thus dropping him down the order. However, the German still leads the Drivers’ championship classification.
Both SF71Hs were on the front row, but the start was closely contested. Seb maintained his pole advantage, but Kimi had to give best to Bottas and also came under attack from Verstappen, who had the advantage of running the Ultrasoft tyres and had also passed Hamilton. The race leader extended his lead to a couple of seconds, to stay out of the DRS range and Kimi was also fending off Hamilton. At the moment, the very long Shanghai straight was not the scene of any overtaking.
Over the radio, it was time to discuss strategy. Red Bull did a double tyre change on lap 18 and Kimi made the most of the clear air to set his fastest time, while Hamilton headed for the pits to fit Mediums. One lap later (number 20) it was Bottas’ turn to pit and Ferrari reacted, but the pit stop took a few tenths too long and coming out of pit lane, Vettel found himself behind Valtteri, who had pushed really hard on his out lap.
Now there was a group of three: Raikkonen, yet to change tyres, was attacked by Bottas, but held him off at the hairpin. This allowed Seb to close and when Kimi had to give best before pitting, the number 5 car was in the DRS zone. Time for another thrilling duel, the third in as many races. On lap 32, the Safety Car came out to allow debris to be cleared away after the two Toro Rossos had collided at the hairpin. Our boys stayed out and Kimi gained ground on Ricciardo who had pitted.
The race resumed on lap 36 and, on new Softs, Ricciardo attacked Kimi who had lost time with Verstappen. Max himself went off track while attacking Hamilton, and Ricciardo got past. The Red Bull pair had the edge in terms of tyres and Verstappen was thus able to repass Hamilton, while Ricciardo got ahead of Seb. Verstappen also tried to get ahead of the German but instead, he tipped the Ferrari into a spin on lap 44. The Stewards investigated the incident and gave Verstappen a 10 second penalty.
Kimi was third, faster than Bottas, who had lost the lead to Ricciardo, but Sebastian had dropped down to seventh with damage to the side of his car, so that even Alonso barged past him. The world champion could do nothing other than defend his eighth place from a last attack from Sainz.
Seb: “The car was amazing”. Kimi: “We’ve been pretty consistent”
Shanghai, April 14 – Just one week after the Bahrain lock-out, Scuderia Ferrari once again qualified both cars on the front row as Seb Vettel beat Kimi Raikkonen by a mere 0.087 seconds in the qualifying session for the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix. This result marks pole number 215 for the team, the 7th for Sebastian in Ferrari colours. In very different weather conditions from the ones encountered at Sakhir last weekend, the SF71Hs delivered a strong performance with both the Ultrasoft and the Soft compound, the latter being the one with which both drivers start on tomorrow.
“It’s been a great result and I am really happy for the team”, said Seb. “Today the car was amazing and it was great fighting for the front row with both cars on our own. It was very windy and not easy to get the right feeling. However, when the car is quick and works, you get a lot of confidence and that helps. We didn’t expect to be so strong compared to our competition. We made some small changes today on our car, but it was pretty good yesterday already. I made some mistakes during my first lap in turn three and six, where I had oversteer. The tires here are very sensitive, so I knew that if I kept it clean, then the final part of the lap would be better. I didn’t know what the others were doing, but I was quite sure about getting the pole because I think I was one of the last cars and so could profit from track evolution. Tomorrow the weather should be sunny, which makes the asphalt hotter. We’ll see how it works, but I think we’ll be very close”.
Kimi added: “We have been pretty happy with the way things have been so far this weekend. Qualifying today was pretty close; we had two good laps, but unfortunately I lost some speed in the last sector and couldn’t improve. Obviously I wanted more, but tomorrow is another day. We ‘ll start the race with the Soft tires and our rivals start with the same compound: that will be slightly different compared to the other cars and I think it will be better like this. We did what we think is the best for us and is supposed to give us the best result in the end. Our aim is to win, first of all we need to do a good job tomorrow and take the most out of it. I think we have been ok in all the races so far; we have been extracting more out of the car and learning more about it. We have been pretty consistent and happy with things, obviously we need to improve here and there but that’s a normal and never ending process”.
Seb on pole, with Kimi alongside him
Shanghai, 14 April – It was a closely contested qualifying for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix. At the end of the session, Vettel took his 52nd pole position, the seventh with Scuderia Ferrari, in a time of 1’31”095. Kimi Raikkonen was second in 1’31”182. The two SF71H cars ran the Soft tyres (which they will use for the start tomorrow) and Ultrasofts. Qualifying took place under overcast skies, in cold and windy conditions, but it stayed dry. Tomorrow’s race gets underway at 14h10 local time, 08h10 (CET.)
Seb ahead of Kimi in a cold Shanghai
Shanghai, 14 April – Final practice at the Shanghai International Circuit was held under cloudy skies in cold conditions, with temperatures no more than 12° (16° on track.) Sebastian Vettel was fastest for Scuderia Ferrari with a lap in 1’33”018, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen second in 1’33”469. Both men ran the same tyre programme, using Ultrasofts. Qualifying starts at 14h00 (08h00 CET.) At the moment, the forecast is for dry conditions.
Kimi and Seb comment on free practice in China
Shanghai – Practice at the Shanghai International Circuit was ended prematurely by drizzle when Kimi and Seb had nearly concluded their long-runs, after setting second and fourth best times on the timesheet. Nearly all drivers set their best times on the Ultrasoft compound, while various types of rubber were tried in race trim simulations. The Chinese track is 5.451 Kilometers long and features a total of 16 challenging corners, but it looks like the fight for tomorrow’s qualifying session will be as close as ever.
“It was a pretty good Friday”, said Kimi “and I’m quite happy with the feeling of the car. I think we have a pretty good base line to start from, it looks pretty good. The car has been quite straightforward since the beginning, so it easy to fine tune things. On one lap we had some traffic, I’m sure we could have gone faster. In the long run we never really got a proper idea due to the conditions: it started to rain and we had limited running, so it’s a bit tricky to know where we are. Today it was close, but then tomorrow who knows what the weather will be; things can change a lot from one day to the next”.
Seb commented: “I think at this track it is very important to find the right feeling with the car and its setup. The track is long and the tires struggle here. But, overall, I think we are quite close. However, the car is not yet where I want it to be. So, we are still looking at how we can improve. I think the SF71H has the pace, but you need to make sure it works. Today it’s been a mixed day and I think in the afternoon it was a bit better and I was a little bit happier. Hopefully tomorrow I’m going to be very happy!”
Kimi 2nd, Seb 4th
Shanghai –The first day of free practice has come to an end at the Chinese track and the Scuderia Ferrari drivers were second and fourth, with Kimi Raikkonen’s best lap being a 1’33”489, while Sebastian Vettel’s quickest was a 1’33”590. The Finn used Soft and Ultrasoft tyres, while his German team-mate ran the Medium and Ultrasoft. The Scuderia Ferrari drivers concentrated on single fast laps, followed by some long runs in race configuration. But rain in the closing stages brought the work to a premature end. The final free practice session starts at 11h00 local time, with qualifying at 14h00.
Kimi and Seb 2nd and 6th fastest
Shanghai, 13 April – A few days after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula 1 is back in action on a completely different track, with fast corners and a 1.2 kilometre long straight. It’s also cooler than at the two tracks visited so far this year, with an air temperature of about 20° and on track, with strong winds. Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest for Scuderia Ferrari with a lap in 1’34”358, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was sixth in 1’34”861.
Kimi used Medium and Ultrasoft tyres, while Sebastian ran the Soft and Ultrasoft. The second session gets underway at 08h00 CET.
Seb and Kimi ahead of China: a demanding track, a different challenge
Shanghai, April 12 – Preliminaries to the third round of the 2018 championship took place under cloudy skies and lower temperatures than expected. Scuderia Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen reflect on the challenge ahead, before the action starts on Friday morning at the Shanghai International Circuit.
“I think we should be alright here in China” says Seb, “even if it is difficult to know. So far there have been only two races and both were very good in terms of results, but they were quite different and here, the track is quite different too. Conditions are not the same as in Bahrain and Australia either. So, we’ll see how it goes, but I am quite confident. I believe that if we have the right balance, then we should be competitive, I just don’t know how much yet. However, we’ll try to win. After this race I think we’ll be able to tell a little bit more, but overall the car is in good shape and it is working, so I know we can be competitive.
This track is quite demanding for tires, so in terms of strategy you try to make all of them work, to understand which one has the best chances. It will be an interesting challenge, so we’ll see. Temperatures are very important here too, because it is colder and it changes the balance of the car, and the limit of the tires. But it is difficult to predict and we need to be patient. We always try to do ourjob well and even if the first two races were ok, they are behind us now. We keep learning and look ahead”.
Kimi’s comments are on the same page as his teammate’s: “This track is completely different, and the layout and the surface of a circuit make a bigger difference than any other factor. Whether this is going to favour someone, or it is the same for everybody, we don’t know yet. We have had good speed at both tracks so far, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be the same here. We’ll start tomorrow, see how it is and do our normal program. Let’s see how it is going to play out over the weekend, if it will be raining or not. The weather can be a bit tricky here, it’s a bit hard to predict what will happen. It will be interesting to see where we are”.
Traffic, smog and charm
In the space of a week the scenario changes completely from the rocky desert of Bahrain to the giant metropolis of Shanghai, as Scuderia Ferrari hits China off the back of the victory in Sakhir. The majority of the team came straight here, while a few reached Shanghai after a brief stop in Maranello. Naturally, Francesco Cigarini also went home, after the unfortunate incident during last Sunday’s pit stop. He has undergone a successful operation on his left leg and is now convalescing.
Shanghai and Sakhir have probably just one thing in common, namely that they both first appeared on the calendar in the same year, 2004 and both resulted in wins for the Scuderia for Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher respectively. The tracks themselves are completely different, as the one in China puts the front tyres under a lot more strain, leading to understeer. The Shanghai International Circuit, shaped like the Chinese symbol “Shang” which means “to aim high” also boasts one of the longest straights on the calendar, measuring 1200 metres. That means top speed and the use of DRS are both important factors.
In terms of logistics, it’s quite a complicated race and not just because it’s the second Sunday of racing in a row. The circuit is quite a way out from the city centre, which is where most of the hotels are located and one usually has to factor in an hour in traffic before spotting in the distance, the vast lotus leaf shapes of the grandstand roof at the Hermann Tilke-designed facility. There’s never much time, but the city is worth a visit, with its strangely European feel, a result of the Chinese port city having always had an influx of foreign influences.
Then we have the weather: the sky is usually grey, because of the smog, but this weekend, that could be down to rain, which is forecast especially for Friday and Saturday. It’s one more variable to consider when looking at tyre choice, which skips one compound, running from white-banded Medium, to yellow Soft and purple Ultrasoft.