Formula One makes its fourth visit to Shanghai for the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix on October 5-7 where Bridgestone's hard and medium compound Potenza Formula One tyres will be put through their paces on the Hermann Tilke designed track.
At 5.45km in length the Shanghai International Circuit layout features a diverse mix of corners as well as two long straights. This configuration means that a compromise car aero set-up is required, with sufficient downforce for the turns, but not too much to compromise speed down the straights.
There are sixteen corners on the Shanghai track and their variety means that teams and drivers will have to work hard to perfect their chassis set-ups to get the most out of the two Bridgestone Potenza compounds on offer. There are also sections of heavy braking, extreme lateral loads and high demands on traction too.
Finding the correct balance between grip and wear will be crucial for a winning performance. 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.
The nature of the circuit means that the cars will be at full throttle for much of a lap, so fuel requirements will be quite high. 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 change over the course of a lap, as well as an element of banking in turn 13.
Bridgestone tyres have been used on the winning car in two out of the three previous visits of Formula One to this circuit, including last season when Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) scored his 91st and final Grand Prix race win.
Hirohide Hamashima, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development:
Q: What challenges does Shanghai present?
HH: Shanghai International Circuit is very severe on tyres and that is why we are bringing the two hardest compounds from our range. There are very high lateral forces acting on the tyres 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.