Chinese GP - A busy day in foggy Shanghai
Shanghai, 15 April - Just a few days after the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Formula 1 cars are back in action on another of the calendar’s “modern” race tracks, this time at the biggest facility on the world tour, in Shanghai. Unseasonably warm weather could have contributed to the fact that the circuit sat under a haze of fog for most of the day, as the twenty four cars tackled the two 90 minute practice sessions.
Felipe Massa completed 61 laps of the track and Fernando Alonso completed 32: the clue to what sort of a day Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro had is there in the numbers, because the Spanish driver’s workload was interrupted in both sessions by an hydraulic problem, caused by a faulty part. As it was down to Alonso to evaluate new updates rushed through from Maranello, this was particularly unfortunate.
The Brazilian on the other hand had no such problems and was able to tick off all the items on his job sheet. This means that even with Alonso’s limited contribution, the engineers will have enough data on the two types of tyre and on car set-up to move forward tomorrow. Felipe was sixth fastest in both sessions, while Fernando was twelfth in the morning and fourteenth in the afternoon. This season’s only race winner to date, Sebastian Vettel, was again fastest for the Red Bull, with the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button not so far behind on the stopwatch in second and third. Next up and ahead of Felipe came another pair of team-mates, the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
The weather might be warmer than expected, but it is still much cooler than tropical Sepang and this is no doubt one reason why tyre degradation appears to be significantly lower than in Malaysia. This might not have such an influence on tomorrow’s qualifying, but could be a factor in the race, especially if it means there are fewer tyre “marbles” on the track surface, making it less risky to move off the racing line and encouraging more passing moves. But before then comes one more free practice session tomorrow morning and then the grid-deciding qualifying hour which for the first time this year takes place at the “standard time” of 14h00.