2017 Chinese Grand Prix track preview

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

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The more durable tyres Pirelli have supplied for 2017 should mean we see a very different race at the Shanghai International Circuit to those we have become used to.

“In Shanghai last year everyone had their eye on the tyres as wear is typically high there and we often saw graining,” explained Fernando Alonso. “But it’ll be interesting to see how the new compounds perform on this type of track.”

The new, quicker 2017 cars should also make for a spectacular sight on Shanghai’s quicker corners. But will be see a better race than we had in Australia?

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A lap of Shanghai International Circuit

Track data: Shanghai International Circuit

Lap length5.451km (3.387 miles)
Grand prix distance305.066km (189.559 miles)
Lap record (race)1’32.238 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Fastest lap (any session)1’32.238 (Michael Schumacher, 2004, race)
2016 Rate the Race7.85 out of 10
2016 Driver of the WeekendDaniel Ricciardo

Shanghai International Circuit track data in full

Last year drivers approached turn one at over 320kph, nudging 200mph, but had to back off considerably on the way in. With much more downforce underneath them the approach speed may be a whisker lower this year but they will be able to tackle it at much higher speeds.

“Turn one is actually my favourite corner on the whole calendar,” Fernando Alonso admits, “and it provides a good test for the driver with a high average speed compared”.

For Kevin Magnussen this is the only high point on an otherwise unremarkable circuit. “Turn one is pretty good fun.” says the Haas driver. “It’s a very unique corner where you turn in at very high speed and you end up at very low speed.”

“It’s an incredibly long corner and pretty unique for that. The rest of the track is pretty straightforward.”

Turn one gradually tightens, merging into turn two, which can cause some consternation among the drivers as they all pile in on the first lap. They then slow even further for the sharp left at turn three. The next two corners, four and five, are easily taken flat-out. Sector one comes to an end as the drivers approach the braking zone for another slow hairpin, turn six.

Some cars tackle the fast, left-hand turn seven in top gear, then scrubbing off a little speed as they flick right into turn eight. Again the drivers have to bring the speed down while cornering as they arrive at turn nine. A short straight brings them from turn ten to the beginning of the next sequence of corners.

After slowing for the sharp left at turn 11, drivers begin to build speed for the long back straight. Turns 12 and 13 used to be a serious drain on their tyres but they should be able to attack these corners harder with Pirelli’s more durable 2017 rubber.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Shanghai International Circuit, 2016
The new cars should be spectacular at turn one
“Historically, looking after the tyres has been hard work because turn 13 is another long right-hander that takes even more life out of them,” Nico Hulkenberg explains. “The tyres and the cars are very different this year so we’ll have a lot to learn on Friday.”

Next comes the 1.4-kilometre sprint to one of the hardest braking zones on the calendar. “There’s a big long straight where you have enough time to complete your tax return and have an espresso as you’re going in straight line with your foot hard down for so long, then you wake up and you’re hard on the brakes,” says Hulkenberg. “It’s really important to get your braking right there as it’s a pretty important corner.”

Last year cars were approaching 350kph before slamming on the brakes for a 60kph hairpin. The ferocious stopping performance of this year’s cars should mean they can brake even later now. The final significant corner is a quick dodge left which feeds the cars back onto the start/finish straight.

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    32 comments on “2017 Chinese Grand Prix track preview”

    1. Looking forward to smashed lap records and more overtaking. Roll on Shanghai!

    2. Looks set for being a wet race. Now that’s exciting.

      1. @hahotstolze 25% chance of rain with 0mm predicted for the afternoon with 18km/hr wind so according to the latest forecast it should be a dry race.

        1. Guess we have different forecasts.

          1. @hahostolze Quite possibly. Mine is from Accuweather.com Sunday afternoon forecast. Where did yours come from?

            1. I used one from Google and weather.com. I also won’t even begin to pretend I know anything about weather forecasts.

            2. Looks very wet before the race, with smaller chances of rain in the afternoon.

      2. I could do without rain for now, to be honest. When the rules have been shaken up so heavily, it’s always interesting to see a dry race to see where everyone stands, especially as Albert Park isn’t really indicative.

        1. @ecwdanselby There seems to be a small possibility of light rain in the morning so there is a chance that the race may start on a damp track. If that is the case, the track will dry very quickly when the race start which could add a bit of spice regarding strategy. Looking forward to it.

        2. Just prolong the suspense until the next race. Rain is always welcome in my opinion.

        3. The nice thing about a wet race is the real drivers seem to perform to their max . The car and tires are less important in the rain.
          Dry race: 20% TIRES, 30% ENGINE, 25% CHASSIS, 25% DRIVER
          Wet race: 25% tires, 20% engine, 20% chassis, 35% driver.

          1. watcha talkin bout @seth-space?

            if the car and tires are less important in the rain, how come in both your scenarios they add up to 45%?

            1. Less important is still important.. but the impact of the rain changes the values. That in itself has his impact on the driver who has to cope with the changing impact.
              Of course, my opinion my 2c.

      3. petebaldwin (@)
        5th April 2017, 17:51

        BBC says it’ll rain in the morning and after the race. There is rain forecast at some point on Sunday though and the various forecasts all saying different things is clear evidence that it’s not really possible to predict the exact timing of these things this far in advance.

    3. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      5th April 2017, 14:54

      So, last year they were doing 350 kph on the main straight. That will be lower this year because of the larger wings etc. But by how much? Anyone got an educated guess?

      1. Not that much lower– We were seeing 320 kph in Melbourne– and that was a Mercedes, which is running a pretty high drag configuration.

      2. @hanswesterbeek Not by much, as it is rumored that Mercedes and Ferrari have found maybe 60-70 bhp from last year.

      3. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        5th April 2017, 19:01

        Ah, hmm… so I must be terribly off in the predictions championship, as I expected that the loss in top speed would almost compensate the gains in the corners :-)

    4. Having played this track on the games, I don’t particularly like this track. Turn 1,2,3 is just too long and the back straight is seriously long and boring. If may be, they removed turn 9 and 10 and made it a gentle left hander leading on to the short straight between 10 and 11, it would help a lot in improving the flow of the track.

      1. Playing it in the games is not the same as the real thing. And anyway Alonso, KMag and other drivers disagree with you about turn 1,2,3 at the very least.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        5th April 2017, 18:02

        I agree with you in terms of gaming but I doubt going 350kph in a car can ever be boring….. Turns 1,2 and 3 are difficult on a game because you really need to feel what the car is doing under you. It’s not just a case of hitting the brakes, following the racing line and accelerating out of it like most turns.

      3. T1/2 is one of my favorites. Once you start nailing it in a particular car, it’s massive fun.

    5. Interesting that the drivers prefer T1 to the esses section, I always thought it looked a bit awkward.

    6. Now this is a circuit I wouldn’t mind seeing the back of. I’ve watched every single GP here, and I’m not proud of that! Liberty would do well to sack off this track and move it downtown so we can see the amazing Shanghai skyscraper backdrop, a la Singapore. A win for F1, a win for China and Shanghai.

    7. ‘Turn 1’ should have a name, like ‘The Spiral’ or something. Sadly corner naming seems to be a thing of the past.

      1. @john-h what an awesome name, I will always refer to it as that from now on!

      2. @john-h
        Agree, been calling it the “cinnamon roll” or “sweet roll” since I explained to my SO how weird and uiniqe that section is and she called it that

        1. @dr-jekyll nice! Or a Chinese equivalent to a Swiss roll. When I was young I designed a circuit with a spiral that looped over itself, sadly Tilke doesn’t hire crazed fools :)

    8. racerdude7730
      5th April 2017, 19:34

      Anyone have a early guess of Q times for this week? Last year Nico did a 1:37.669 My guess is we will drop in to the low 1:35 area. Whats everyones thoughts?

      1. He did a 1:35.402 last year.

    9. I reckon a 1:32 Q time on a dry track. I hope it stays dry just so we can witness the full potential of the new cars so as to compare against 2004 times.

    Comments are closed.