Pole, fastest lap, race win and the successful defence of the manufacturers’ title one race before the season finale – Shanghai couldn’t have gone any better for our car #1 and for the whole Porsche Team.
As we have already seen in the last few races, the field was extremely close together and especially Toyota didn’t make it easy for us in China.
I enjoy the track in Shanghai, even though it isn’t an easy one to drive. The first corner doesn’t really float my boat: the snail-like right-hander seems endless, it's getting tighter all the time and it is slow.
After that, the lap features very different cornering speeds. There are some mid-speed corners and a few corner combinations especially for which you have to position the car precisely.
Crucial pole after early drama
In the practice sessions, we tested various set-up options and made some steps in the right direction. Our lap times were competitive on single fast laps as well as on long runs.
In the second session, we had a small problem that cost us some time, but afterwards we managed to get the most out of the session and did a lot of set-up work for the race. We got a better understanding for the tyres and got several parameters right in their operational window.
The track was very dirty in the beginning but improved over the course of the weekend. We knew from free practice that we would be fast on a single lap and Brendon [Hartley] and Mark [Webber] managed to translate this speed perfectly in qualifying.
In the early stages of the session there was some excitement when Brendon’s first lap was deleted because he exceeded track limits in the last corner. Mark did a mega lap to put us back into contention, and Brendon secured pole for us with his second lap. It was an awesome team effort and everyone kept their cool.
The race on Sunday went very well for us too. Brendon had a great start and we were able to keep the lead and then extend it. I was second in the car and did a double stint. The number #6 Toyota with Kamui Kobayashi driving was really strong.
The traffic in the race was a real challenge and very often the limiting factor as you had to constantly balance between being aggressive or rather defensive when lapping slower cars. Our car ran absolutely smoothly, we had fast pit stops, the right strategy and got the win in the end.
I am extremely happy to have won another race with my two teammates and for the whole team it’s an amazing achievement to have been able to defend the manufacturers’ title.
Every member of the team at home in Weissach and at the race track has worked relentlessly over the whole season and it wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Now it’s onto the final race in Bahrain, where our sister car is fighting for the title in the drivers' championship. It will also be the last race for Mark, Brendon and I as teammates. I think I can speak for Brendon and myself that Mark will sorely be missed as a teammate and friend.
Also with Audi leaving the championship at the end of this season we’re losing a highly respected competitor in the WEC. Bahrain will without a doubt be another cracking race which you shouldn’t miss!