The expected weather will be similar to that experienced in Melbourne, and the Shanghai circuit in many ways resembles Sepang, which was designed by the same architect and is also a super stadium.
In both instances Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel ran away from the pack, and there is no reason to believe it will be much different here, particularly as it has only been five days since the Malaysian race. But, and this is a big but, Red Bull must get its KERS working fully, because this circuit has some long straights where the device makes all the difference, particularly in qualifying.
Some rain is forecast for Saturday, but for it to affect the outcome in any way it will need to fall during qualifying hour. Maybe we’ll eventually see what the Pirelli wet tyres are like for the first time in an official session, and that could shuffle the starting order a bit.
In Malaysia Pirelli delivered exactly what they were required and requested by the teams, and in most cases the KERS and the moveable rear wings worked well, so we have now had both extremes – in Australia we probably had too little overtaking and in Malaysia possibly a bit much. Let’s hope we can strike a happy balance now.
Once again it looks like McLaren will be able to take the fight to Red Bull, with Ferrari and Renault also in there. Nick Heidfeld drove a great race in Malaysia considering that he has not really been in the cut and thrust of Formula 1 for a while, and I think he will be a driver to watch this weekend.
To me the big story of the week is that Ferrari’s management headed back to Italy for meetings and to investigate why the car is not performing as they thought it should. In Malaysia they were aero mapping on Friday, which is not what you expect from the team, and this points to some serious issues with the car.
The team had some new parts, but the drivers seem to think it is too early to gauge their effectiveness. Let’s hope they find a solution soon, even if the results only work their way through the system for Turkey because it’s never too late to play catch up.
Fernando made a very basic mistake in Malaysia when he tagged the rear of Lewis Hamilton’s car, and that should fire him up in China. It’s a great pity he suffered hydraulic issues in both Friday sessions, which cost him a fair amount of track time. Hydraulic problems caused his DRS rear wing to malfunction in Malaysia, so that is another worry Ferrari don’t need.
It should be a real cracker on Sunday, but I think all the guys are more looking forward to getting home after a tiring month away and getting two weekends at home.