“This circuit places some very unique demands on the cars”
Against a backdrop of leaden skies, practice kicked off for the 11th Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. Both of today’s sessions were cold and blustery, which made consistent lapping difficult. Additionally, a headwind along the start-finish straight made it even harder for drivers to tackle the difficult entry into the tightening Turns One and Two.
Armed with a number of useful aerodynamic upgrades and some driveability improvements, both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen spent the day attempting to overcome the typically high front tyre graining that always affects cars at this track.
After finishing FP2 in eighth and 12th place respectively, Jenson and Kevin both affirmed that more work needs to be done overnight to prepare the MP4-29 for Sunday’s race.
FP1 1m40.970s (+1.187s) 23 laps 4th
FP2 1m39.537s (+1.176s) 29 laps 8th
“In terms of driveability, I think we’ve improved the car in a number of areas since Bahrain. There are a few more things we can do overnight, and there are some positive steps we can take to move a little closer to the front. After all, two weeks ago, in Bahrain, we also struggled during our long runs in FP2, so perhaps we’ll be better in the race here. “Today, both my front tyres were graining – but then this place is very tough on front tyres, especially when you’re in traffic. There are a few things we can do with the set-up to ease the graining – and there are also a few things we want to do that will improve the car’s overall balance – so hopefully we’ll get a clearer picture tomorrow of where we stand – if it stays dry.”
FP1 1m41.366s (+1.583s) 20 laps 6th
FP2 1m39.744s (+1.429s) 29 laps 12th
“The first corner here is very tricky, and that’s where you do the damage to the front tyres.
“I don’t know why we’re not as competitive as we’ve been in the previous races, but we have a lot of front tyre degradation – and we need to investigate why. In fact, I’ve never had this much front tyre graining – it’s very difficult to deal with, so we’ll adjust the set-up and my driving style to compensate. It’s a new track for me, too, so I need to adapt to that.
“We’ll try to solve things overnight – but, if it rains tomorrow, at least we won’t have any front tyre graining!
“Let’s hope we can improve things for the race.”
Racing director, McLaren Mercedes
“This circuit places some unique demands on the cars – not least, the graining that the front tyres experience, particularly through Turns One and Two, and the long corner that leads onto the back straight.
“It’s clear that there’s a division between the cars that can make the tyres work, and those that can’t – it’s a difficult balancing act, and we’re not quite there yet, but there’s plenty of potential to make improvements to the set-up overnight.
“The radar suggests that there will be rain at the circuit tomorrow – that’ll be interesting, as it means that, not only will qualifying become more of a lottery, but also many teams will go into the race on Sunday without a clear idea on set-up, strategy and performance. And that always makes for very interesting and unpredictable races.
“So, while today has been a difficult day, we’ve got plenty of lines of investigation to pursue tonight, and, as ever, I’m sure our engineers can do their usual excellent job to help push our cars closer to the front in time for Sunday’s race.”