Panis reflects on Shanghai

Toyota's Olivier Panis looks back over the Chinese Grand Prix weekend Q: What do you think of Shanghai Olivier Panis: I have to say it's fantastic, almost a little bit too much! If we want high tech in Formula 1, this is it! It's amazing what...

Toyota's Olivier Panis looks back over the Chinese Grand Prix weekend

Q: What do you think of Shanghai

Olivier Panis: I have to say it's fantastic, almost a little bit too much! If we want high tech in Formula 1, this is it! It's amazing what they have done here.

Olivier Panis.
Photo by Toyota Racing.

Q: Why 'a little bit too much?'

OP: Well... Things like the blue neon lighting around the top of all the buildings. But I'm not being critical. It's fantastic, beautiful, and I'm highly impressed. But it's almost like something out of a science fiction film. When I saw the two high bridges across the track. I mean, it's unbelievable!

Q: What did you think about the track itself?

OP: It's very challenging, very tricky and I had a lot of fun on the first two practice days. I'm quite happy with the circuit, there are chances to overtake and I think it's a real success.

Q: Where were the overtaking opportunities?

OP: After Turn 13 - the long straight after the banked corner, because on the banking you are able to follow the car in front very closely because loss of downforce is not so big an issue when the banking holds you on the circuit. Then down at the hairpin there was obviously some fighting. Around the rest of the track it wasn't so easy. Turn 1 looked like an opportunity on the circuit map, but the entry was actually very quick.

Q: How did the car behave overall?

OP: Straightaway we saw that we had a competitive car in Shanghai. It was just like Indianapolis and that's probably because there are similarities because you need a good compromise set-up. With the aerodynamic and mechanical packages we were using, we found it. The car felt very good from the start. We were quick on the straight and good in the low speed corners as well.

Q: Were there any problems with the set-up?

OP: Well, it's never perfect. In Saturday free practice I had a lot of trouble with the rear of the car. It felt very nervous, with a lot of oversteer, and it hurts your confidence. I had a long talk with the engineers and with Mike (Gascoyne) and we decided to change a lot of things. We changed the set-up completely - springs, weight distribution, ride height, everything.

Q: Did the changes in the set-up make a difference?

OP: Absolutely! It's always a bit of a gamble but I knew as soon as I went out for pre-qualifying that the car felt much better. I had a lot more confidence and found that I could really push hard. It was a good lap and eighth place on the grid was a positive outcome for the team.

Q: Were you surprised by the oversteer because a lot of other drivers complained about the opposite - understeer?

OP: On the first day I had a lot of understeer, with quite a lot of tyre graining because the track was very 'green.' But on Saturday, I'm not sure why, maybe because the track conditions changed so much, the car felt so different - very 'pointy' around the nose.

Q: What did Ricardo feel?

OP: It was strange because we were using very similar set-ups. I think we have different driving styles. I reverted towards my opening day set-up and then it felt much better.

Q: What were you hoping to achieve in the race?

OP: On the longer runs practice runs, evaluating the tyres, the car felt strong. We were quick on the straight and the Michelins were very consistent. I was expecting to score points before I had my problems on the start line, when the anti-stall engaged as the revs dropped. It was so frustrating after such a good qualifying lap.

Q: What was your experience of the rest of China?

OP: Shanghai city is very new. Honestly, you think it's more American style, you don't feel like you are in the middle of China. But when you take the car to come here [to the circuit], it's a big difference.

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis
Teams Toyota Racing