Will Ferrari take first back-to-back wins since 2010? Six Shanghai talking points

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

After the first race of the season it looks like we’ve finally got a championship fight on our hands between at least two teams. What will round two reveal?

Can Ferrari sustain their winning start?

Singapore 2010: Ferrari’s last back-to-back wins
Not since 2010 have Ferrari managed to win two races consecutively. Coming off the back of their Australian Grand Prix victory, a win in Shanghai would give them real conviction that they can end their nine-year title drought.

As was the case in Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel is playing down the progress they have made. But it was clear in Australia the team had a great race car – Vettel was chasing Lewis Hamilton hard for the lead in the early stages before manoeuvring his way ahead through the pit stops.

Although Vettel was out-paced in qualifying his Ferrari looked very beautifully composed, especially through the quicker corners. Shanghai has more of those than Melbourne, so they could be in good shape here.

Did Melbourne flatter Mercedes again?

Melbourne is usually an ‘outlier’ as far as the rest of the season goes and in the past two years has been one of Mercedes’ strongest circuits.

If that trend continues this year then Mercedes really are going to have a fight on their hands with Ferrari. Another team which historically has fared better once the championship has moved on from Australia is Red Bull. Look for them to also be closer to the pace at a track which requires more fundamental grip, although the long straight will hurt them.

How much quicker will the cars be?

Formula One’s overhauled cars knocked 1.3 seconds off the quickest lap around Albert Park two weeks ago. Yet some, including the driver who set the new record, had expected more spectacular gains.

Could Shanghai deliver them? Several of its corners are much quicker than Melbourne and it is these bends in which the more aerodynamic powerful 2017 cars really shine.

However in Albert Park the drivers also had the benefit of tyres which were one stage softer than those used last year. In Shanghai the softest tyre available will be the super-soft, as was also the case 12 months ago (though note this year’s compounds are harder than last year).

Is overtaking going to be any easier?

Last year’s race saw 181 passes
“What overtaking?” was the reaction from drivers when asked how hard overtaking was in Melbourne. Just a handful of on-track passes were made in Albert Park.

But that is not unusual for Australia’s round of the world championship. Shanghai, however, has a huge straight with a heavy braking zone at the end of it which provides an excellent passing opportunity. Last year’s hectic race saw frequent passes for position.

Does that mean we’ll get a better race this weekend? And if not, will F1 make changes to DRS to encourage more action?

Will Giovinazzi seal the deal?

Antonio Giovinazzi impressed with his hurried debut in Australia at a track where he hadn’t raced before.

But in China he will have the benefit of running in both practice sessions and doing so at a track he has prior experience of.

A strong performance will strengthen his case for a full-time seat. He came close to out-qualifying team mate Marcus Ericsson last time out, so the Q1 battle between the pair should be fascinating. A dream result for Giovinazzi would be to clinch a point for the struggling Sauber team.

What might a wet race reveal?

Pirelli have been working on their wet weather tyres
The early weather forecast for the race indicates a strong chance of rain in the morning. If we do get our first wet race of 2017, there will be several new variables to keep an eye on.

The first is the complex new rules governing wet race starts. The race director has new powers to use a standing start if conditions improve sufficiently. However it is still possible for rolling starts to be used on safety grounds.

Then there is the question of how well Pirelli’s new wet weather tyres will perform. They were criticised again following last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix and have been modified again since they were testing in Spain last month.

Finally, how will the increase in downforce alter wet weather races? Drivers should benefit from more grip and wider tyres should clear the racing line of water more effectively. We may also see a drivers having to make greater compromises between ‘full wet’ and ‘partially wet’ set-ups depending on the forecast, as the new cars offer so much more downforce.

Are you going to the Chinese Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to China for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Chinese Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all 2017 Chinese Grand Prix articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

28 comments on “Will Ferrari take first back-to-back wins since 2010? Six Shanghai talking points”

  1. Should be a great race wet or dry – I’m looking forward to it!

    Being able to overtake should be far less of an issue at Shanghai with it’s long back straight and heavy braking zone. For me it was promising how big the gaps between some team-mates were in Melbourne, which suggests that the driver is making a lot more of a difference than previous years, so I’m excited to see more of that.

    Sauber will have a real “problem” if Giovinazzi outqualifies Ericsson (which I think he will) and even more so if he manages to grab a point. Perhaps even Kimi will be looking over his shoulder if he underperforms again in China.

    1. The Italians are excited by Giovinazzi, and rightly so after Melbourne. I imagine Ferrari will be most interested by his performance this week – Kimi will stay till end of year, but his time is run. If Giovinazzi does a Schumacher 1991 performance in first full race weekend, then Giovinazzi could get in early.

      1. Although he looks promising, he won’t be 6th on the grid for sure.

      2. The difference between Giovinazzi and Schumacher are like night and day, though. So, that is not going to happen at all.

        If anything, I’m expecting Ericsson to outqualify him again

    2. What was there 6 retirements in Australia? If Giovannazzi finished 18th would we be as excited? I think there might be too much hype at the moment.

  2. Intrigued by this weekend. Shanghai may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like it, and the long corners have always been pretty decent for allowing cars to follow one another. Overtaking happens around the outside of turn one, going into turn two, as well as in turn four and the final hairpin. Often drivers manage to stay close-ish during the longer bends. If that is the case this weekend as well, then the new rules aren’t the problem that some seem to think they are. If they are, well…

    1. I like the tack too.

      T1&2 are fantastic to watch and allow for battling (especially at the start). Then T4 also shows us some overtakes every year. The long fast T5 and T6 are awesome and sometimes lead to overtakes into the slow T7. Then the short straight into T9 presents an overtaking opportunity and even the long T10 has had cars diving up low for the inside pass on to the long straight, which itself ends in the best overtaking spot: the hairpin. We’ve seen fights out of that hairpin into the final corner and we’ve even seen Sebastian Vettel last year overtaking people into the pitlane!

      I think it will be a decent race in the dry but if it rains it might be even better.

  3. I have been reading a lot of people defending this years cars overtaking, most with “hopeful” thinking for better passing in next races, by going by the fact that Melbourne is supposedly not historically good for overtaking… I don’t believe that at all. historically cars in Melbourne, when equally matched have been able to overtake, it was usually from drivers getting a good run on the driver ahead in turn 1/2 or turn 10/11, they could get close enough for a slipstream or with drs assistance. this year no one could follow close enough through those turns at all, it was worse than ever, so there was no overtaking at turn 3 or turn 12 like previously. what is worse, is Mercedes powered cars with the most power couldn’t get close enough to lower powered cars like Renault on those straight – because of slow understeering exit in dirty air, even with drs assistance, and in Hamiltons case, even with fresh tyres and a faster car they still couldn’t make it work. I wont be surprised if f1 soon starts to make drs activation points sooner on straights, and maybe make drs activation at 1.2 seconds instead of 1.0 seconds, because in a few races fans are going to get over the new look, Ferrari up the front, and will just want to see racing and passing. cars on the straights in China might well be hitting the rev limiter halfway down the back straight even in 8th gear, and 20km/h slower than last year… drs wont help much… it could be an awkward and boring race to watch – in that scenario people still wont know who is better, Ferrari or Mercedes, and it could all come down to qualifying and pit stops again.

    1. @kpcart
      They arent even close to hitting the revlimiter.

    2. I dont think a single F1 car has hit the rev limiter since 2014….

      Correct me if I’m wrong.

    3. The two people above reminded me that, no, these cars don’t hit the rev limiter very often. I believe the rpm limit is something like 16,000 rpm, but when you watch the RPM counter that is sometimes displayed you can see the most common top RPM is less than 12,000 RPM. I don’t know if this is related to the fuel flow restrictions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was partially related to it.

    4. @ kpcart
      The rev limit is 15000 rpm, and Lewis Hamilton hit 327 kph in Australia at 11700 rpm. So he could theoretically reach almost 420 kph before hitting the rev limiter.

  4. Keith, there is a site posting the times of some drivers through all corners and straights of the track. Ferrari is already on par with Mercedes on all kinds of corners, it loses a bit here but gains a bit there…….

    They are still a little behind on the straights and because of that I think Mercedes will have a bigger advantage on China, at least on qualifying.

    You can check a brief compilation of those times, for instance, in this video:


    1. The interesting part to me would be to compare that data of the same car from 2016 too 2017 to see exactly where, and by how much, this years cars are faster or slower than last year.

      I think that the cars are significantly faster in fast corners but the added drag might make them slower than last year’s cars coming out of slow corners (90 degrees or more) and in terms of top speed carried on the rest of the straight. That’s just my thought though, so I’d like to see the data of this.

  5. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    6th April 2017, 17:14

    If Giovinazzi is the real deal, how can Mercedes prevent him from sealing a longer stint in races?
    I guess Merc gives Sauber a good sum to have Pascal on the seat.

    1. It’s almost a proxy war between Mercedes and Ferrari. Don’t forget that Sauber is considering a different PU vendor for ’18.

  6. ”However in Albert Park, the drivers also had the benefit of tyres which were one stage softer than those used last year. In Shanghai, the softest tyre available will be the super-soft, as was also the case 12 months ago (though note this year’s compounds are harder than last year).”

    – This year’s softest compound (ultra-soft) is harder than not only the 2016 super-soft but even harder than the hardest 2016 compound, so, therefore, this year’s super-soft is harder than the compound of the same name last year as well, so pointing out the compound name differences is between this season and the previous is entirely necessary as even though the names have been the same for quite a long time already the compound formula is a bit different every year, and even more different this year.

  7. When I compared the lap times relative to the race leader at Melbourne for last year and this year it seemed to me the cars were further apart this year than last year, so I’m expecting the same situation to appear at Shanghai as well. The logical conclusion of that is to see less overtaking.

  8. The obsession with how many seconds per lap faster these cars are is getting very mundane and, quite frankly, is completely arbitrary. The cars look exciting and quick through the corners – a real hand full – which was the aim. They are slower on the straights as a result of the downforce which is why the lap time isn’t so different. Also, we are one race into new regulations with huge development potential…

    Got to see the forest for the trees, or something…

    1. Top speeds in Barcelona test and Australia were virtually the same as last year?

  9. I said it in the other article but it’s also well suited here:

    Not often I feel really excited about a driver. Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and lately Verstappen and Vandoorne all share thing that make them really special racing-wise. Of course there are other exceptional drivers but with those I have a special feeling. Giovinazzi has joined my list and given his GP2 season last year I was not surprised that he entered the Ferrari academy without any backing.

    Having a complete racing weekend will let him properly adapt to the new tyres and I’m optimistic about his performance. I am glad he can have some running time and hope he will soon have a full contract as I feel he can really shine in F1.

  10. Vettel is always pretty strong in China. Out of his career, 8 starts in China, 1 win / 4 Podiums, and all other races in the Top 5 or scoring positions. Ferrari have a great car to boot, I think they can pull it off this year and have a great run into the start of the season.

  11. Maybe there was less overtaking in Melbourne because the cars qualified and finished in their natural performance position?

    Regulation change always pushes teams apart due to performance differences.

    This year’s aero development should be amazing and we should see some convergence later in the season and even more next year.

    Basically the same thing that happens EVERYTIME there is a rule change. But hey, this is F1 so lets ignore the past and continue to keep asking the same questions and crying about the same thing.

  12. It seems to me strategy is more influential on the race outcome than engine performance is, which was why Vettel won at Melbourne.

  13. I think the most important thing is how big are the gaps between the teams. In australia merc and ferrari were completely on their own and the gaps between the teams were just too big. I’m hoping it is closer in china and the gaps are smaller.

  14. It’s time for Lewis to lay down the law. No more strategy kucfups by the team and he should be fine.

    1. @jay – Despite what Merc may have said, I don’t think this was a strategy issue. You’ve got HAM leading the race, unable to create distance to VET, and complaining about grip/tires. Mercedes could either wait for the undercut and hope that Ferrari don’t move ahead, or try it themselves. There was no third option. VET was running fine on his tires and all they had to do is say, “Do the opposite of HAM” and Merc would have looked the exact same.

      I think HAM should have stayed out longer on his first set. He has complained before unnecessarily (Monaco 2015), to ill effect. I’m not sure if this is a result of being left out far too long in China 2007, or if his internal tire wear barometer is always a bit early.

      Regardless, the issue in Australia was that Ferrari were close, were able to follow HAM, and Merc had to flip a coin. Maybe they chose wrong, or maybe both choices were going to have the same result. I don’t view it as a bungle, just how sport goes sometimes.

Comments are closed.